Barker Ranch – Panamint, California - Atlas Obscura

Barker Ranch

Panamint, California

The location of the last stand of Manson's doomsday cult. 


It is easy to think of Charles Manson as simply a mass murderer, and he was surely that. What people tend to forget is that the murders were simply a tactic to bring about Doomsday. The Manson family was first and foremost a Doomsday cult.

Of course when Arlene Barker rented her ranch to them she didn’t know that. An older lady, Mrs. Barker rented her ranch to the Manson family who she believed were a group of musicians who needed space to practice. Manson even gave her a Beach Boys gold record (which he had been given by, or stolen from, Dennis Wilson) as thanks for letting them stay there. Of course, this was one of the places from which the Manson family would plan a series of murders in an attempt to start an apocalyptic race-war, his “Helter Skelter.”

But as Manson orchestrated the killings of nine people, his followers also conducted raids in Death Valley stealing dune buggies and vandalizing National Park property. It was these relatively petty crimes, not the murders, that led to the Manson family’s arrest. When a joint force of National Park rangers, California Highway Patrol and Inyo County Sheriff’s officers burst into Barker Ranch and dragged a crazed Swastika-tattooed man out from under a bathroom vanity, they thought they were nabbing a group of local troublemakers. It soon became clear that the Manson family was much more than that.

In 2008 a search of the site was conducted looking for the remains of additional Manson family victims, long rumored to have been buried by Barker Ranch. Though bullet casings were found, no new remains were uncovered and the dig was called off. In 2010 much of the wooden structure of Barker Ranch and the infamous vanity in which Manson hid himself burned down. The stone structures are still standing.

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