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Published: February 22nd 2015
EHRENBERG CEMETERYMINERAL CITY
The E. Clampus Vitus Society erected this monument at the entrance to sad little neglected cemetery in Ehrenberg. It looks rather much like a phallic symbol. Those Clampers are a fun loving bunch.
In 1866 when the capricious Colorado shifted its channel and left the bustling community of La Paz high and dry a committee of local miners and merchants agreed to hire Herman Ehrenberg to locate new dock facilities. Herman found a suitable site six miles downstream and for good measure surveyed a town site. The committee called the new place Mineral City. By 1870 the placer diggings at La Paz had played out and most of the miners had moved on to better prospects. The local merchants had relocated to Mineral City for better access to the river. Herman Ehrenberg in the meantime had gone to San Francisco in order to try and raise money for the foundering La Paz placers. He was making his way back to La Paz by stagecoach along the Bradshaw Trail and spent the night at the Dos Palmas Station near the Salton Sea. It was a warm evening and Herman decided to sleep outside in fresh air. The next morning he was found murdered and robbed. The station keeper did it, of course, but blamed it on skulking Indians. When news of the murder reached Mineral City the committee of merchants and miners
The E. Clampus Vitus Society began in California during the Gold Rush. Its chapters are pretty much still limited to California. The society still thrives because it is full of fun loving old rips who like to erect monuments that look like erections in obscure places like Ehrenberg. Their monuments are found all over California.
decided to honor the deceased by renaming their town Ehrenberg. By 1875 the town of Ehrenberg had grown to 500 residents which qualified them for relocation of the post office at La Paz. When Laguna Dam was completed in 1907 it stopped all riverboat traffic above Yuma. The population of Ehrenberg declined and the good citizens lost their post office on December 31, 1913. Remnants of the old town have disappeared until all that remains is a small cemetery full of unmarked graves of forgotten people. Ehrenberg is now a thriving trailer park for snowbirds.
Herman Ehrenberg ought not to be forgotten. He was born in 1816 in Austria and came to America in 1834. He stuck it out in New York City for a year and then moved on to New Orleans where he got swept up in the hysteria of the Texas War of Independence. He enlisted in the New Orleans Grays and took part in the Battle of Bexar in which the Mexican General Cos was driven out of San Antonio. Some of the Grays wanted to defend the Alamo as San Houston requested because the Mexican army was soon to return in stronger numbers. Some of them wanted to go on the offensive with an attack into Mexico hoping that the Mexican army would be forced to go on the defensive; Herman wanted to attack Mexico and joined a group gathering at Goliad under command of Colonel Fannin to do so. Houston had ordered Fannin to stay where he was with the sad result that he was defeated at Coleto by General Urrea. Fannin surrendered his army and they were taken back to Goliad and murdered under orders from General Santa Ana. Very few of those Texans survived, but Herman was one of them. He eventually returned to Germany and got some schooling as a mining engineer at the University of Freiberg. While there he wrote a book about his experience in Texas in which he described the country in such glowing terms that the Texas Hill Country was settled by German immigrants whose descendants still live there. Herman returned to America because of the political unrest in Germany that drove the settlement of the hill country. He went to St Louis and then over the Oregon Trail, but found the prospects for mining in Oregon were just as dreary and grim as the weather. He signed on with the crew of a merchant ship bound for Hawaii. There wasn’t much mining there either so he took command of a schooner in the China trade with La Paz, Mexico. He eventually left his ship in La Paz, got himself caught up as a suspect in the Walker Filibuster but made his way into Arizona where he joined the Sonora Exploration and Mining Company. He drew the first map showing the boundaries of the Gadsen Purchase lands. His influence in the early development of Arizona mining was substantial. It may well be that he surveyed the town site for the placer diggings that Weaver found along the river and suggested that it be called La Paz; although it is evident from his writing that he hated all things Mexican.
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