Digger Creates Bottle Tree Ranch in Barstow CA #Vintage

Photos are screen shots from Google Image Search

Elmer Long's Bottle Tree Ranch Near Barstow CA

Gotta put this place on my route, next trip out West! You just know there are some good old bottles mixed in there.

Dad Took Him Bottle Digging In The Desert

Here's what Elmer Long has to say about his bottles:

"I started out with my Dad's bottles. He and I used to collect them in the '50s. We went camping and went into dumps. They were pretty. My Dad was an interesting man. You're not going to find too many people who'd leave Manhattan Beach and go out in the desert and dig a hole to find bottles. You just aren't. 
"This is really a tribute to my Dad. He never did anything with the bottles. But I think differently than other people." 
Being his father's son, he collected bottles and discarded items in the desert and mountains for years, until his collection nearly rivaled his father's garageful of bottles.
"It just kind of came to me," Long said. "I took my Dad's bottles and what I collected. So I put one (bottle tree) up in a corner here and, shoot, within a half hour, someone was taking pictures of it. I did it for two years. And I figured it's more fun to do this than (to) work, so I retired in 2002. I've never looked back." [Read the recent Sacramento Bee interview:  by Sam McManis here.]

When Elmer spoke to Mike Anton of the L.A. Times, he talked about his Dad's fascination with bottle digging:

"He got into collecting bottles and sort of went crazy. He had thousands of them."
The elder Long would spend hours at the library researching the Mojave Desert's ghost towns and mining camps. He would spend days in the field with a metal detector unearthing hand-blown antiques and modern machine-made trash. ..."


Bottles Helped Make Him A Better Person 

More from the L.A. Times interview:

"There is no charge to wander the Bottle Tree Ranch, only a tip box. Some people leave items for Long to use in future sculptures. Others steal stuff.
"You can't stop it," Long says. "What are you going to do, put up a 10-foot-tall fence? Why worry about it?"
By his own account, Long was once judgmental of people, easy to anger, a man who settled scores. But a decade of building bottle trees and topping them with other people's discards has changed him, he says.
"I'm not a people person," Long says, "but if you get a thousand people coming by to say howdy and shake your hand .... it changes you. It changed me. I'm a much better person than I was."

The Bottle Tree Ranch is at 24266 National Trails Highway in Oro Grande, between Victorville and Barstow in the Mojave Desert.

Elmer Long welcomes visitors during daylight hours.

There's a fan page on Facebook, too: http://www.facebook.com/ElmersBottleTreeRanch

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