Some 75 people live in Hornitos. It’s the type of place where most of them would have been peering at the three outsiders.
A sign above an entrance says Guns have only two enemies, rust and politicians. Another sign, this time on a gate, says Do not expect a warning shot.
For our visits to Yosemite, we stayed in a lovely isolated Airbnb out in the sun-kissed grasslands of Catheys Valley. Hornitos was just down the road.
At the height of the gold mining boom it had a population of 15,000. The name, meaning “little ovens” in Spanish, was derived from the town’s old Mexican tombstones that were built in the shape of little square baked ovens.
We spent an hour wandering round looking at rusted machinery and rotting buildings and reflected on how quickly towns are born, grow up and dwindle.