A photo of Seldom Seen Slim that was probably taken during the late 1960's.

In 1965 I moved to a small town on the edge of Death Valley, California called Trona. I had heard that the American Potash and Chemical Company was hiring, so I went to find work. Trona was the atypical company town. AP&CC owned the market, the department store, the hardware store, the movie theater, the credit union and, of course, the Snake Pit bar. I worked eight to ten hours a day in the blistering heat, and on my days off I either drank beer at the Snake Pit, or explored the old abandoned goldmines that were scattered throughout the adjacent foothills. In 1965 Trona was a thriving community. Now it's just a ghost town.

When I lived there, Death Valley was populated with a variety of interesting characters – mostly diehard old gold miners and prospectors who eked out a meager existence from the shiny flakes of gold they panned from the icy streams that trickled down through the mountains. But to me the most interesting character I ever heard about was a skinny, dried-up looking old-time prospector everyone knew as Seldom Seen Slim. Now I never actually met Slim, but it didn’t matter, because the locals talked about him constantly. He was so interesting. The things he did. The things he said. The sights he’d seen - his whole life. In fact, considering the times, and the remoteness of Trona from the rest of civilization – we used to call it the last stop before you fell off the edge of the world - Seldom Seen Slim was the equivalent of the modern-day celebrity.

I left Trona in 1967, and Seldom Seen Slim died in 1968. In 1971 Tom G. Murray wrote a book about him and a few of the other colorful Death Valley characters. Not surprisingly, the book is titled, SELDOM SEEN SLIM. All I can say about this book is, Thank you Tom, for making sure that bedrock characters like the Wildrose Kid, Jim Sherlock, Chris Wright, Silent George, Shotgun Mary, Harry Oliver, the Old Mirage Salesman, and, of course, Seldom Seen Slim, though gone, will never be forgotten.

From a sign on Seldom Seen Slim's shack:

"You S.O.B. don't take anything, I might be watching."

Source: SELDOM SEEN SLIM, By Tom G. Murray

1 comment:

w. des noyers said...


I'd like to read that cool sounding book..."Seldom Seen Slim." I'd like to visit ol' Death Valley some day. What a weird place to be born. It justs makes my own story that much more intereting.