Secretive company buys California ghost town for $23M

Eagle Mountain started out as a Kaiser Steel mining town in the 1940s

Nipton, CA and a mystery buyer

Nipton, CA and a mystery buyer (Google Maps, Getty)

How much would you pay for a ghost town?

There’s one in Arizona that comes complete with a refurbished general store. The owner is asking $1.1 million. A cannabis company tried selling the desert town of Nipton in California for $5 million, but ultimately only got $2.5 million from the adult circus that now owns it. 

Putting those meager millions to shame, a secretive company with the nondescript moniker Ecology Mountain Holdings just bought a California ghost town for $22.5 million, SFGate reported. 

The only publicly available information about the buying entity is its name; its Cerritos, California address; and that it bought the ghost town, Eagle Mountain, California.

The seller was Eagle Mountain Acquisition LLC, an apparent affiliate of Kaiser Steel, the long-gone steel company that established the town in 1948, according to the outlet. Kaiser Steel was one of many companies owned and led by Henry J. Kaiser, a 20th century industrialist who had shipbuilding, health care, automobile, aluminum, real estate and media enterprises. His most visible legacy remaining today is the health care giant Kaiser Permanente.

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Kaiser’s Eagle Mountain, a three-hour drive inland from Los Angeles and far out-shined by its neighbor, Joshua Tree National Park, became a thriving steel town for a few short decades, according to the outlet. The mine’s employee base swelled to just under 1,000, and they were served by an early model of the Kaiser prepaid health care plan.

The town opened a post office, a 350-seat rec center and a 100-student high school in its good years. But Kaiser Steel closed its doors in 1983, and so did the Eagle Mountain mine. The prosperity of blowing iron ore out of the hillside had withered. 

After the mining business died, a private prison called the Eagle Mountain Community Correctional Facility briefly operated in town.

While some ghost towns like Nipton have been rebranded into tourist attractions, Ecology Mountain Holdings’ ambitions for this redevelopment remain, like most things with the company, unknown.
–– Kate Hinsche