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Solitary life suited hermit of Hardrock Gulch just fine

Solitary life suited hermit of Hardrock Gulch just fine

April 1967: Christine Love, the 94-year-old hermit of Hardrock Gulch, has lived a life of solitude since 1931. She prefers it.

This portrait by staff photographer John Malmin accompanied the article below by staff writer Charles Hillinger in the April 30, 1967, Los Angeles Times:

Informed that Ronald Reagan is the new governor of California, Christine Love, the 94-year-old hermit of Hardrock Gulch said:

“Never heard of him!”

Gov. Reagan needn’t be concerned though. The old prospector hasn’t paid much attention to the ways of the outside world since moving to her miner’s shack in 1931.

Christine has lived by herself all these years, seven miles up a jeep trail from the nearest paved road.

She has no electricity, no running water, no radio. Her closest neighbor is 10 miles away in Oro Grande, a tiny Mojave Desert town north of Victorville.

Up until 10 years ago, Christine left her place once a month or so, walking 20 miles round trip with her burro “to get water and grub” at the Oro Grande general store.

Since the burro died, she’s never gone far from the shack.

Famed desert painter Bill Bender, his wife, Helen, and two other couples have “looked after” her since the burro died.

“One of us takes a four-wheel drive truck up there at least once or twice a month to make sure Christine’s all right, that she has enough food, water and wood for her stove,” Bender said.

“Christine is an individualist. She doesn’t like to be disturbed. We don’t intrude. We don’t wear out our welcome by going by up there too often.”

Old-timers say before the burro died, no one was welcome at the hermit’s shack, built by Christine with her own hands 36 years ago. The story goes she had a cache of ammo and fired at anyone who came near.

“She’s never shot at me,” Bender said.

The artist suggested the old prospector come down off the mountain and live in town, where she’d be more comfortable.

“Too many livin’ off the government as it is. Let me be,” retorted the hermit of Hardrock Gulch, her stubborn streak reflected in an icy stare from her sharp blue eyes.

“Don’t want anybody worrying over me,” she snapped. “I can take care of myself. Always have. Will till I die.”

Christine has never seen television.

“Don’t want to. Had enough of radio when it first came out,” she said.

Christine was born in Denmark but left there at an early age. She married Rufus K. Love, who, she explains: “hired the talent, provided the costumes and produced vaudeville shows all over the West for years. We had a good life, but no kids. Rufus died in Los Angeles in 1920.”

Christine remained in the city 10 years, working in a restaurant. In 1931 she chucked her job to prospect in the hills north of Victorville.

“Lots of ’em came up here in the Depression. I had a claim; mined talc, limestone, calcium aluminate. They hauled it out by truckloads. Had three, four men up here working for me.

“Claim jumpers swarmed over the place like a bunch of hornets. Took this and that. Now all I have left is the house.”

The stone and board miner’s shack sits on a side of a desert mountain a few feet from a pile of old tailings.

Its soot-filled interior, charred from years of cooking and heating with a cast-iron, wood-burner stove, is furnished with an antique bed, an ancient rocker, pots and pans hanging from nails.

Lonely?

“Hell, no! I like it this way,” snorts Christine. “I’ve got enough to do. Cook my meals. Keep up the place. Feed the quail. Still get paid you know. Caretaker, $100 a year, for watching over mining interests up here.”

As to her health, Christine says she’s never been to a doctor in her life.

“Oh, I saw one about 20 years ago,” she admits. “Passed him on the street when I was down in town getting groceries.”

There is no further information on Christine Love in the Los Angeles Times archives.

scott.harrison@latimes.com

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