Charles Manson's Forgotten Getaway Truck

Illustration for article titled Charles Manson's Forgotten Getaway Truck

This Power Wagon has sat baking in the sun, broken down and abandoned for 41 years in the hills near Barker Ranch, the final hideout of Charles Manson and his crime family.


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. Though a general store does still exist, the last permanent resident of Ballarat, "Seldon Seen Slim" was buring there in 1968.

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. The only clue to the truck's seedy past are several pentagrams drawn on the ceiling, a symbol the Manson family represented themselves with.

The truck sits there to this day, just begging to be a Project Car Hell contestant.

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7shades: uɐıןɐɹʇsnɐ uǝʞoʇ

There's a Ballarat in the US too?

And here I was thinking it was a uniquely Australian (read: weird) sounding name for a town.