6 miles off the main road quite literally in the middle of absolutely nowhere we came across the town of Darwin sat in the base of the mountains, shrouded in dust and sand and abandoned in the sheer deffening silence that you experience only in places like Death Valley.
Darwin itself is a truly amazing place and we really didn’t know what to expect as we pulled onto the dirt track that carried us into this sleepy little abandoned area in the middle of the valley with a reported population today of under 40 even though the sign brags a few more that have since packed up and moved on away from the town…
The town was first established by American explorer Dr Darwin French in 1874 after he discovered silver ore deposits in the mountains, just south of Death Valley but the mining area is now closed off and out of limits to people with many signs warning of the dangers of open mines still being there and potential death traps to those that wander into the area. Just a year later, 700 people were found living in the town where around 20 mines were discovered - the population peaked in 1877 at several thousand people.
In its heyday, Darwin was buzzing with saloon bars, miners, busy general stores and even brothels.
As with many ghost towns across the U.S., once the industry has died, life in the town becomes lost and soon after years just simply disappears. However in Darwin, a small community of artists and those preferring life in the wilderness, has remained in settlements further down the valley from the ‘original’ settlements. The population is made up of mainly couples and with no one under the age of 18, so no children at all exist there. There are no stores to buy anything and nowhere to stay - the nearest supermarket is well over 90 miles away and the tiny community that remains in the dust had only a local post office where residents could gather to pass the time of day and even this now is shut and abandoned forever.
Just further down the hill we started to come across the houses of those both past and recently present, many just left abandoned and with the contents still in place, refrigerators, clocks and books still on the shelves…
We shot there for over an hour, being respectful to those that still call this dusty town home and exchanged a few hearty hello’s to those few that we met along the way walking through the small town.
Darwin is in many ways a place of both sadness and wonder and it remains sat in the middle of Death Valley and the days and nights pass like a ticking clock with no impact or change on anything that remains, a modern day time capsule sat baking in the desert sun….