This town was founded back when the Gold Rush was in its dying stages in 1896. It was established to serve as a supply point for the mines, miners and camps that were located in the canyons.
South of this town one can find the Post Office Springs, used as a much-needed source of water by 1850s prospectors and for the animals and travellers that were crossing the desert.
The name Ballarat was suggested by a young immigrant from Australia who proposed that this place should be named after Ballarat, Victoria (Australia) the place where the second largest gold nugget was found.
During its peak years, Ballarat had no more than 500 residents. For those that chose to live here or were just passing by, the town offered seven saloons, three hotels, a post office and even a Wells Fargo station.
Not excluded from the list is the school that served the local children, next there is the morgue, and of course the most hated place of them all, the jail. This Wild West town had no churches included in its initial design.
Ballarat served as the place where travelers and prospectors could relax and have a good time. The town started to lose its popularity when the Ratcliff Mine, located in the Pleasant Canyon east of town shut down its operations.
The same fate followed the rest of the mines located all around Ballarat, adding salt to an already opened wound. The post office saw no need for it to serve this town anymore and so closed its doors in 1917.
What Ballarat left behind were abandoned houses, stubborn prospectors and even more tenacious desert rats. The abandoned and quiet environment under which the town was resting was more than ideal for Charles Manson that decided to live here in the 1960s. He and the Manson Family of killers moved into a ranch south of Ballarat.
The lonely town of Ballarat was even depicted in a movie starring Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson called Easy Rider, as well as in an episode of Top Gear USA.
Today there is only one full-time resident the refuses to leave his home and Ballarat behind. His name is Rocky Novak and together with his two dogs Potlicker and Brownie, Novak continues to inhabit this abandoned town. He runs a general store for the tourists and works on repeating the pipes for the water supply.
During the hot summer, a woman named June and her son join Novak in Ballarat. The reside in the former jailhouse/morgue. If you ever get the chance – drop into this amazing time warp.