Thursday, June 9, 2011

This Power Wagon has sat baking in the sun, abandoned, for over 40 years.

Toby Fray—Oct 17, 2010 1:00 PM
Near the 100+ year old ghost town of Ballarat, CA, sits an eerie roadside relic of one of America's most notorious crime sprees. Ballarat is located down a dirt road in the middle of Death Valley about 150 miles Northeast of Los Angeles.
Barker Ranch is reached by ascending Goler Wash, making a 4x4 truck necessary for access. The Power Wagon was picked for its off-road prowess by murderous cult-leader Charles Manson, who acquired two Power Wagons not only as a practical hill-climbers, but also to hoon in the desert.
"One time Charlie and I drove two trucks through Death valley, just for the hell of it...We took two 4-wheel drive Army surplus Power Wagons...We wanted to hellraise and it was a blast" said Bobby Beausoleil, a member of the Manson family, in a 1981 interiew with OUI magazine.
As pressure mounted from the authorities, Charles "Tex" Watson took one of the Power Wagons and attempted to flee nine days before the Oct. 10th raid of Barker Ranch. Unfortunately for Tex, the truck broke down and he was forced to hitch-hike all the way back to his home in Texas, where he eluded the police for another month. Dry desert heat and the remote location of Ballarat have left the truck in relatively good condition.


LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

This is what Bob was trying to explain to you a couple times, on previous threads...

The white stars depicted in my earlier photo... were/are inside the power wagon.
(They're painted inside the roof of the cab, specifically)... as this video also illustrates.

BUT... that little pick-up truck... you saw at Ballerat... in front of the "Lynyrd Cafe" (LOL)... is NOT the power wagon.

The power wagon, as you can see here, is a much larger, and older vehicle.
The pick-up truck looks early 70's to me.
The power wagon, I believe is mid 40's.

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

BTW folks:

The brief write-up on the thread, was written by a gentlemen named Toby Fray, for a website that specializes in antique auto restoration.

The information may, or may not, be 100% accurate "Manson-wise"... as the guy is likely more of a truck expert, than a TLB expert.

Feel free folks, to point-out any in-accuracies, if you see any.

For instance:
Technically... I don't think the power wagon actually "broke down".
I believe it got "bogged-down" in mud.

Have Fun Folks!!!

Peace... Lynyrd.

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...


Remember when you kept asking me:
"C'mon Lynyrd... how can a truck from the 1940's, be considered a "power wagon"???

And I kept saying:
"When you see the photo, it will make sense". LOLOL

Does it make sense now? : )

It's a 4x4 MoGambo Army Truck from hell!!!

lurch said...

Who actually owns the truck now? I'm amazed after all these years no one has claimed it for their own and hauled it away!

MrPoirot said...

That is not a 70s model of anything. Its much older. I thought there were two power wagons. The other is at Barkers nearly decomposed.

I suspect that Tex tried to go around the Ballarat store and campground to escape notice as he fled. Only he ended up bogged down in the mushy lake bed. Except to escape detection there was no reason to leave the dirt road. Those dry lahe beds may look dry but they are very mushy. I think Tex was paranoid about being seen leaving Golar.

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

Hey Lurch!

Honestly my brother, I have no idea... who, if anyone, owns it now.

Lots of knowledgable folks come through here... maybe someone else can answer that question.


LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

Poirot said>>>>
"That is not a 70's model of anything. Its much older".<<<<

You're obviously not reading my posts closely.
I was referring to the pick-up truck, in a previous thread (when I said 1970's)... not this power wagon.
The truck on this thread, is from 1946ish.

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

Go back to the thread, which is dated May 5th.
You'll see the truck Im referring to, as being likely a 1970's model.

It's an old discussion.
Katie was confused, and thought that small pick-up was the power-wagon, just 'cuz it was parked at Ballarat.

It's an old discussion... that's why you have no idea what I'm talking about.

Kimchi said...

Nice video LS - good find!

Another thing to note, the building to the left of the "ex" cafe at :08 was the mobile home that belonged to Mrs. Barker and was towed to Ballarat from Indian Ranch some years ago.

That's where the caretaker presently lives.

One of the early scenes from Easy Rider was filmed in one of the ruins there (Ballarat)...the part where Peter Fonda throws his watch away...

Sometimes I think of that scene and wonder how Dennis Hopper knew about Ballarat or the location, it certainly is not a tourist attraction or a must see...I think that was filmed in 1968, right?

katie8753 said...

Hi everybody.

Lynyrd now this makes more sense. I thought Bobby was talking about that pickup/camper in front of your cafe. HA HA.

I think there are multiple accounts why Tex didn't make it with the power wagon. I read that he ran out of gas. Who knows. I can't imagine anything that big with 4-WD getting stuck in the mud.

The video says this power wagon was owned by Charles Manson and previously owned by Bobby B. Did either of them actually "own" this or was it stolen like most other vehicles? Where is the other one?

Good question Lurch. I wonder who does own it. Nobody? The plates look like they're gone. I'll bet it's not even registered at all anymore.

So Ballarat consists of Lynyrd's Cafe, Mrs. Barker's trailer and a shack? That looks like miles and miles of nothing by miles and miles of nothing. LOL.

katie8753 said...

It's amazing that the tires aren't flat!!! Does someone air them up??

MrPoirot said...

I thought I saw a pic once with the Ballarat Powerwagon with the axels on blocks. Yea Katie I cant imagine tires 40 years old being able to hold air. Tires dry rot in just 5 or 6 years. Ive even bought new tires from mailorder houses that arrived by UPS already dry rotted. They had been stored in a warehouse and were wrapped.(moyorcycle tires)

MrPoirot said...

Oops! Katie if you look closely you'll see that truck is suspended on blocks and a jack.

katie8753 said...

Mr. P., I see the jacks on each wheel. The front tires look brand new with good tread. Can't see the back tires very good.

I don't know why they would go to the trouble to put new tires on!!!

Mary said...

they don't look like new tires to me...they are flat...sure they are dry rotted

Mary said...

oh no, Katie...I disagreed with you...what will Lynyrd say :) LOL

katie8753 said...

>>oh no, Katie...I disagreed with you...what will Lynyrd say :) LOL>>

Did you disagree with me to throw him off??? HAHAHA.

Just kidding.

The front tires look like they have good tread. Maybe I need some new glasses!! Maybe those cokebottle glasses that Charlie left by the steamer trunks at Cielo. LOL.

Mary said...

I don't want him to think I am playing favorites:)

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

: )

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

Folks... please.
Look under the truck.
The truck is being completely supported by four floor jacks.

If you took the truck off those jacks... the tires would flatten like pancakes.

I'm not a mechanic... but, that seems like a pretty safe assumption. LOL

Mary said...

I agree with you Lynyrd

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

See that Katie...
Mary agrees with ME... NOT YOU!

Meah! (sticking my tongue out).

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

Also folks...
Bear in mind, this is basically an Army truck.
Those tires are freakin' huge.
Heck, those tires likely have 5-10 times the amount of rubber, used on a modern compact car.
One of those tires has much more rubber, than a typical Toyota Corolla tire.
Heck... maybe even 25 times.

I highly doubt those tires could hold air... but, the sheer thickness of the rubber alone, allows them to retain their shape, while suspended on the jacks.
Also, the sheer volume of rubber, likely allows them to last 3 times longer than a modern automobile tire.

Just thinking out-loud now.

Jeepers... these blogs are getting WAY too freakin' technical lately.
It's a f#cking thread, not a science project. LOL

Sorry folks... but, I'm NOT hiring a physics major, to test that rubber!! : )

Any physics/DNA experts out there??

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

When you get a chance... be a sweetheart, and run out there to Ballarat, and grab a rubber sample off those tires, and bring it back to the lab, for analysis. hahaha

katie8753 said...

That left front tire has some deep tread marks on it. Looks pretty new to me. Don't know about the others. The point? I don't know, but I think someone put a new tire on that wheel.

What's the point in jacking up the car anyway unless you're working on it???? Maybe someone is.

I thought I was everybody!!! I guess I just me again. LOL.

Well, I'll quote Popeye: "I am what I yam, and that's all that I yam".

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

In fairness to Katie...
those front tires DO look fantastic for their age... almost too good for their age... I agree.

It IS possible someone threw different tires on there at some point... that's entirely possible.

Heck... someone took the time to put the truck on jacks right??

So... like everything else in this case... who knows?

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

Hey Bob!

There's a short quote from Bobby's "OUI" interview, included in this thread "blurb".

He mentions two trucks, right on there.
Maybe there's a third?

katie8753 said...

Hi Bobby!! Good to see you!

I know BB mentions 2 of these trucks.

My questions are these:

#1: Did either BB or CM "own" these or did they steal them?

If they owned them, where did they get them, from an army base? And if so, how?

#2: Where is the other one???

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

Actually... LOL

The more you look at the photo, it seems likely... the tires may have been replaced.
Firstly... the jacks were obviously not standard equipment on the original truck. LOL
AND... that white paint on the hood/front... is obviously not original either... and fairly recent-looking at that.
Someone obviously added the jacks, AND the white paint, since it was abandoned... so, different tires, are not so far-fetched.

katie8753 said...

Thanks Lynyrd. I really do think that left front tire looks pretty new. I'm thinking that someone jacked up that car to restore it.

Even though you explained that the rubber was durable, I don't think it would have endured 40+ years, even an army vehicle tire!! :)

Course I'm just a "dumb ole girl" and don't know "man thangs". But I think I know tire tread. LOL.

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

There IS a lot of tread on those front tires.
Like I said... someone obviously added the floor jacks AND the white paint, AFTER it was abandoned.

Also... swapping the tires, is likely the most obvious reason for putting a beast like that on jacks, in the first place.
Why else waste that kinda time... and four perfectly good jacks? LOLOL

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

I want a full lab analysis run on that truck. LOL
I want the age of the tire rubber, the white paint AND the jacks. : )
(Just Kidding)

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

Also... scour what's left of the interior for Bobby's "DNA". LOLOL

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

: )

MrPoirot said...

The relationship between Bobby and Charlie is a strange one. They were ten years apart in age. When I look back at when I was 21 I remember most of my close friends as being very close to my age. I could not have imagined hanging out with an ex con 10 yrs older than me yet Bobby was very close to Charlie. This was a relationship that led Bobby to commit a murder that never would have ocurred without Charlie's influence.

starship said...

It was the music, man. No differences in age can tear apart the togetherness that is felt through the creation of beautiful music.

Oh, and there were girls there too.

katie8753 said...

I don't understand why a good looking young man like Bobby would have spent 2 seconds with a con man like Charlie. Bobby had/has musical talent...Manson didn't/doesn't.

I guess he was just one of many who fell/still fall for his bullshit.

Surely Bobby could have been better connected elsewhere.

It's a shame that Bobby chose the low road and ended up in prison because of his poor choices in his younger years.

Kimchi said...

Katie said"

>>I don't understand why a good looking young man like Bobby would have spent 2 seconds with a con man like Charlie.<<

Bobby swung both ways...

Not saying that was the influence, Bobby did like the music and he LIKED THE LIFESTYLE...he always said he had the same gig going...Bobby was not innocent himself...

katie8753 said...

"Bobby swung both ways...

Not saying that was the influence, Bobby did like the music and he LIKED THE LIFESTYLE...he always said he had the same gig going...Bobby was not innocent himself..."

Hi Kimchi.

Bobby swung both ways? HA HA.

I like your comment, however, I don't agree.

"Bobby was not innocent himself".

I'm not sure what that means, but I'm sure it doesn't mean that Bobby killed anyone before he met Manson.

Bobby could have had more women (and men) than Charlie in a single swoop.

Why? Because Bobby was good looking and Charlie was a gnarled old crone. Even back then.

But...Charlie had the gift of gab.

I can't see that Bobby needed anything from Charlie.

He had talent, women and cars. What more could a young man want???

I don't know why he would give Charlie a second look. And while we're at it, I don't know why ANYONE would give him a second look. HA HA.

Maybe he saw something in Charlie that he thought he needed. I don't know. That's up to him to disclose if he so chooses.

But.....the end result of his association with Chuckie was prison for life. End of story.

katie8753 said...

Kimchi, I'll say "this about that".

I know that Bobby was into devil worship before he even met Charlie. Everyone does.

But I don't know of him killing anyone before Hinman.

I also don't think that Charlie ordered Bobby to kill Hinman.

But...I think that the reason Bobby was at Gary's house in the first place was because Charlie ordred him to.

I think Bobby's decision to kill Gary was his own. He has admitted that.

But...if he hadn't been ordered to go there, he wouldn't have had to make that decision.

Does that make any sense?

MrPoirot said...

Katie; Charlie told Bobby, "you know what you have to do". An older man tells a young man this and slices Hinman's face with a sword to get Bobby in the mood to kill. in hindsight Beausoleil knows he could have just walked off after realizing hinman had no money in the house. Hinman sealed his fate by telling Bobby he was going to the cops. What could Hinman say? Hey this guy claims my mescaline was poor quality and wants his $2000.00 back!!

katie8753 said...

Hi Mr. P. I agree with everything you say. Charlie said "you know what you have to do".

I just think it was Bobby's decision to kill Hinman. Like you said, he could have just walked away, but he didn't.

He says he killed Hinman because he was going to the police, but then he turns around and steals his cars, a decision that ended him up in prison???

No sense makes sense. :)

MrPoirot said...

Does anyone know why Tex left Barkers when he did? He escaped the raid. Did he sneak away from Charlie? What was the date he marooned the truck at Ballarat?

beauders said...

tex claims he left barker ranch because he didn't want to kill anymore people, manson wanted him to kill the sheriff of shoshone. of course i think he just wanted to get out of california, hoping if he was far away no one would look into his direction as the murderer of tate, etc.

MrPoirot said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Tex made his escape from Barker for one reason, they were almost out of drugs. I would of liked to of herd what Charlie said once he realized his chief killer had flew the coop

As far a s Bobby goes, he was making poor choices before he met Charlie. He even stole money and a van from the guy who was trying to make him a famous movie star, for what? more drugs! Why after all these years does Bobby deny that Manson came to Hinmans house and sliced his ear? I just watched Bobbys parole hearing again, and just can't beleive he says that. Does anyone know why?