By LAURA QUEZADA News Review Staff Writer–
Randsburg is situated in the mountains off Highway 395. Take the drive and go up a piece on the little mountain road and you will enter the Old West Mining Town of Randsburg. There you can step back in time through a Living Ghost Town. You will find original buildings, interesting shops, great food, great stories, a museum filled to the brim, and a saloon.
You won’t find ghosts at The Cottage Hotel. You will find a sparkling clean environment that is hard to believe it first opened as a hotel in 1930 and was built in the late 1800s or early 1900s. It oozes the charm and ambiance of the Old West but has contemporary amenities.
Marty Gomez co-owns the hotel with his wife, Debbie. Marty tells us the building was originally a home for a family of five. “He raised five kids here, so it was perfect with five kids. Once the kids grew up and the mining fell away, he sold it. I don’t know who bought it right after him. But then, a couple came here from South Africa in 1930. They opened up as a hotel and sold pizza.”
Although it appears to be on Butte Avenue, the main entrance is at 27888 Lexington Ave, which runs parallel to Butte Avenue. There is a parking lot from where you make your way on a stone pathway past the fire pit to the entrance to the lobby. The wallpaper and décor are antique; the lobby has comfy leather sofa recliners and soft lighting. The reservation desk where you check in is original, with the old telephone switchboard on the side and a glass-fronted desk filled with Randsburg memorabilia. The book, Ghosts of Randsburg: The Madame’s Secrets by Marie Mason, is on display and for sale. You can read about Mason and her book on the News Review website at https://news-ridgecrest.com/marie-mason-uncovers-the-history-of-the-ghosts-of-randsburg/.
Marty tells us, “We have four single rooms in the hotel.” Two of the rooms have verandas outside of the rooms. “We have two outer units in the back. They each have a queen and two twins, refrigerators, coffeemakers and bathrooms with showers. Next door, we have a full cabin with a full kitchen and all the utensils, a barbecue, a separate bedroom, and two twins in the front room. It’s perfect for the family.” All rooms have WiFi and internet TV, and modern bathrooms.
From the lobby, if you go right, you go through the room where continental breakfasts are served and into the restaurant dining room. The wood floors are gorgeous, and the rough-hewn wood paneling is made of fencing material. Marty says, “The restaurant is not open all the time because all the action is down by The Joint in the center of town (a quarter mile down the street). Except we open on Old West Days, the Friday after Thanksgiving, and New Year’s Day.” However, if large groups book the hotel, they often throw in meals as part of the package. Outside the dining room is a large porch where the hotel hosts bands during Old West Days.
Marty grew up in Long Beach and first came to Randsburg when he was ten years old. His off-roading family would camp in California City and take a day ride to Randsburg to eat burgers and ice cream for lunch at the General Store. He continued to come every time he was out off-roading in the desert. His buddy Rusty Cours bought a cabin in Randsburg, gave Marty a key, and Marty came up almost every other week. Nine years ago, Marty bought his own cabin, which needed lots of work. It had running water and an outhouse, “It looked like a chicken coop.” He is still working on it.
Early in their courtship, Marty brought Debbie up to Rusty’s cabin and the town took her. She told her mother, “I’m dating this guy, and he took me up to this cabin in this little town that reminds me of a Clint Eastwood movie.” Her mother told her that when Debbie was little, the family went up to Randsburg to stay in the Hotel because her dad’s best friend, Dwayne owned it.
Debbie subsequently bought and managed four Airbnbs in town. She had Marty inquire about buying the Hotel and, after consideration, decided to buy it. “At first, we thought, ‘No, this is gonna be way too much work,’” Debbie says. “We’re going to be married to it, but, actually, with Marty’s background and his connections with dirt bikes and off-roaders, because he’s been riding his whole life and worked with pro teams, it was actually a perfect fit for him. I decided I wanted to ride, so I got a quad. He took me out and taught me how to ride the quad.”
On her 50th birthday, Debbie told Marty, “ I want to get married, live in Randsburg, and live there till I die. I just love this little town.” They married in 2013 at High Noon on the back patio of one of Debbie’s Airbnbs and had a reception at the White House.
They purchased the Cottage Hotel about three years ago. It was in great condition, but they continued making improvements during the off-season.
It is interesting to learn that during the off-road season, September to April, folks camp far away and can ride off-road to Randsburg without ever getting on a paved road. Coyote Trail Adventures out of Palmdale brings lots of visitors to the Hotel. “They come here probably every other weekend with riders from all over the world,” Marty says. “It’s pretty incredible, riders from all over the United States. They just had some guys from Belgium and Europe, they come here and just love it. You know, they don’t get the riding as they do here in the California desert.” Folks off-road into Randsburg from as far away as Barstow, California City, Hesperia, and 23 miles from Jawbone Canyon.
Marty tells us, “I still get excited when I see the first kid coming down on a little mini bike Saturday morning.” He remembers, “I rode right by the Hotel on my mini bike. We rode 23 miles to get here. I thought we were in Arizona. But you know I was ten years old. It’s pretty crazy. But it’s so fun.” That was in 1970. It was a family and community affair, with five families coming to the desert to camp and ride. That tradition continues every year, with new groups returning to Randsburg year after year. “I have two or three groups from Barstow; they come here. They ride right from their house, off road all the way and have fun. It takes them a day, but there’s like six vehicles and everybody knows each other. They’re all friends.” These folks spend the night at the Hotel, have breakfast in the morning, and head back home.
“What I like about off-roading is you meet a lot of nice people. The kids love it, and everybody’s happy. That’s one thing I like about this place. Everything’s happy.”
The Cottage Hotel is Old West all the way, except there is motorcycle memorabilia on the walls of the pool table piano playroom. If you get to see the garage, you will see Marty’s “Boatload of motorcycles.”
Randsburg, California – an Old West Mining Town, Living Ghost Town just up the road from Ridgecrest.