Traveling on State Route 395 north, folks will come across a turn-off called “Garlock Road”. The road will take you to one of the most impressive sight-seeing areas in the high desert – Garlock, California.
GARLOCK - formerly known as Eugeneville is an unincorporated community in Eastern Kern County located approximately 6.5 miles east-southeast of Saltdale and has an elevation of 2,169 feet above sea level. A local post office ran from 1896-1904 then again from 1923-1926; Roberta Ruth lived in the town during the 1960’s and managed a curio shop.
Garlock is a ghost town that was also known as El Paso City and Cow Wells; the little town provided water for cattlemen and freighters wishing to avoid the treacherous washes in Red Rock Canyon. Some gold had been found in the canyons on the El Paso Mountains, which was enough to establish the town in 1887. In 1893, a gold nugget was brought in worth $1,900 from the Goler Heights area and the gold rush began. In 1894, Eugene Garlock who lived in Tehachapi at the time moved in an 8-stamp mill and miners would talk about going down to the “Garlock Mill” then “down to Garlock” and finally, just named it “Garlock”. A historical marker #671 was designated in December 1958 and is approximately 74 miles west of State Route 395 on Garlock Road and 13.4 miles northeast of the Cantil post office. The marker reads “NO. 671 SITE OF THE TOWN OF GARLOCK – In 1896, Eugene Garlock constructed a stamp mill near this spot to crush gold ore from the Yellow Aster Mine on Rand Mountain. Known originally as Cow Wells by prospectors and freighters during the 1880’s and early 1890’s, the town of Garlock continued to thrive until 1898 when water was piped from here to Randsburg and the Kramer-Randsburg rail line was completed”.
GARLOCK FAULT – The Garlock fault is a left-lateral strike-slip fault, which runs northeast-southwest along the northern margins of the Mojave Desert; much of its length runs along the southern base of the Tehachapi Mountains. The fault stretches 160 miles and is the second longest fault in California. It marks the northern boundary of an area known as the Mojave Block as well as the southern ends of the Sierra Nevada and the valleys of the westernmost Basin and Range province.
The Garlock fault runs from a junction with the San Andreas Fault in the Antelope Valley, eastward to the Death Valley Fault zone in the eastern Mojave Desert and is named after the historical town of Garlock, which was founded in 1894. Few communities lie directly along the Garlock fault as it’s primarily situated in the desert; Frazier Park, Tehachapi, Mojave and Johannesburg are closest to the fault.
The last significant ruptures on the Garlock fault are thought to be in the years 1050 and 1500 A.D. Research from the U.S. Geological Survey has pinned the interval between ruptures on the Garlock fault as being anywhere from 2,000-3,000 years depending on the segment of the fault.
The Garlock fault moves at a rate of approximately 2-11 millimeters per year with an average slip of about 7 millimeters; it’s not considered to be an active fault, seldom producing any shaking detectable by humans although, it has been known to generate sympathetic, seismic events when triggered by other earthquakes and in one instance, the removal of ground water. These events as well as continuing micro-earthquakes and the state of scarps from previous ruptures do indicate that the Garlock fault will produce another major earthquake at some point in the future. The most recent and notable events in the Garlock fault zone was a magnitude 5.7 earthquake which occurred near the town of Mojave on July 11, 1992 and thought to have been triggered by the Landers quake which occurred 2-weeks earlier. No slippage had been recorded in modern time until July 2019; following a series of quakes on nearby faults in late July 2019, the Garlock fault was observed moving about 2 centimeters between July and October 2019 accompanied by numerous minor quakes (a state known as fault creeps) producing a bulge in the land which can be scene by satellite radar. A study which was published by the journal SCIENCE in October 2019 indicted that a part of the Garlock fault slipped after being triggered by the series of earthquakes in the Ridgecrest area in July 2019; reports in the Los Angeles Times indicted that a magnitude 8.0 earthquake along the Garlock fault would have a potential for grave disaster.