Who Bought This California Ghost Town — And Why?

A ghost town near Joshua Tree in Riverside County just sold to a mystery buyer for $22.6 million, unleashing a flurry of speculation. SEC filings show the 10,000-acre site known as Eagle Mountain was bought by Ecology Mountain Holdings, LLC on April 17.

We don’t know who owns Ecology Mountain Holdings, but we know the company is based out of Cerritos, California. Cerritos is also home to a big rig company called Ecology Transportation Services, but it’s not clear if they’re one and the same. 

Eagle Mountain became an iron mining town when Kaiser Steel started operations there after World War II. The mine shut down in 1983 — just another victim of the U.S. steel industry’s decline. Plans for the site came and went, but the proposals (landfill, recycling center etc.) never came to fruition. 

The last known proposal was a $2.5-billion hydropower facility to be built by Eagle Crest Energy Co. Conservation groups immediately raised objections, citing groundwater depletion. Eagle Crest finally unloaded the property plus its mining claims to the mystery buyer, even though its website remains active.  

What’s the end game here? Lithium mining? Casino? A new season of Schitt’s Creek?

Ecology Mountain Holdings hasn’t responded to media requests so, for now, we’re kept in suspense.