Desert ghost town where Hollywood got fake snow

midland-bldgblog.jpg
Google Maps via Bldgblog

Out near Blythe in the lower desert, the abandoned industrial settlement of Midland, California has been empty for nearly half a century. It was "deliberately burned to the ground in 1966 when the nearby mine was closed," writes Bldgblog, which finds an interesting facet of the ghost town's history.

What's so interesting about this place—aside from the exposed concrete foundation pads now reused as platforms for RVs, or the empty streets forming an altogether different kind of geoglyph, or even the obvious ease with which one can get there, simply following the aptly named Midland Road northeast from Blythe—is the fact that the town was built for workers at the gypsum mine, and that the gypsum extracted from the ground in Midland was then used as artificial snow in many Hollywood productions.

As the L.A. Times reported back in 1970—warning its readers, "Don't Go To Midland—It's Gone"—the town served as the mineral origin for Hollywood's simulated weather effects.

"Midland was started in 1925 as a tent city," the paper explained, "with miners in the middle of the Mojave Desert digging gypsum out of the Little Marias to meet the demands of movie studios. All the winter scenes during the golden age of Hollywood were filmed with 'snowflakes' from Midland."



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Desert ghost town where Hollywood got fake snow
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