Where's Lonesome Gulch? (a thought experiment)
Last Post 1/1/2012 5:18 PM by Kerrick. 3 Replies.
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12/26/2011 5:31 PM
    Before I start, I just want to say that this is strictly a "because I'm bored" discussion - I don't think LJ ever had a location in mind when he created this town, so it's not likely we'll ever figure it out.  

    So... I'm reading Twilight Children. For those of you who haven't read it, the companions end up in in a strange gateway that seems to have been hastily thrown together. They exit into a cave that looks like it was recently carved from the living rock, and end up in a control room that was created from spare parts. They leave the "redoubt" to find themselves on a narrow trail high up on a canyon wall; the place is thick with acrid mist. They head down the trail, seeing all sorts of twisted creatures, and end up in a tourist ghost town called Lonesome Gulch. There, they're attacked by a flock of mutie lizard-birds, but they escape and flee back to the gate and jump out.

    My question for you, fellow forumites: Where the hell were they, and what happened?

    I was going to go with "They jumped to a parallel dimension," but as I wrote this, I came to another conclusion:

    They were still in Deathlands, somewhere in the American West. I couldn't say exactly where, but I'm guessing somewhere in Utah or Colorado, maybe even the Dakotas.

    So what happened? First off, let me just say that LJ was fond of easter eggs, and a lot of them were from Stephen King's works. Some of you might see where I'm going with this: The Mist.

    As it happens, The Mist is a story about a military experiment gone awry (gee, imagine that...): after a huge storm, a thick fog comes pouring down from the nearby military installation, and there are things in it. It's never adequately explained what, exactly, happened, but rumors are that they opened a portal to another dimension. In the movie, the military wins and things go back to normal, but the book has a darker ending - the characters keep heading south, but they never get out of the fog. As it ends, one of them is writing in his journal that they're heading for Hartford (they started out in Maine).

    What does this have to do with Twilight Children? Well... LJ had already established that some personnel from the TC survived skydark and continued on afterward (see the space station Enterprise), so it's entirely possible that someone, somewhere, was messing around with the gates and found a way to access parallel dimensions. They found an isolated spot (conveniently near a ghost town), slapped together a gateway nearby for easy access, and opened a portal. Unfortunately, things didn't quite work out the way they'd planned (like we expected anything less), and they either died horribly or fled back through the gate. Since the mist hasn't spread, it's likely someone managed to close the portal, or it closed on its own (maybe it was powered by a generator?)

    So why don't the lifeforms (especially those birds) spread to other parts of Deathlands, then? Maybe the mist has something they need to survive.

    Why hasn't anyone else found this place?
    Who's to say they haven't?  (The apparently recent construction of the gate also points toward the area not having been like that for very long, so there's not much time for rumors to spread.)

    Why doesn't Deathlands weather affect it? The southwest is infamous for horrific storms and high winds. That's why I'm guessing it's somewhere further north, not in New Mexico, Arizona, or Texas. It's also possible that it was, indeed, very recently constructed (like, within the last couple weeks), and that a huge storm hasn't hit the area yet. I doubt that the area could be so thoroughly corrupted in a couple weeks, though (at one point, they find a river and Michael sticks his hand in; he says "It's warm, it stings, and it's not water!", and that it has the "Consistency of very thin honey, or cooking oil."). But, who knows?

    Anyway, that's my take on it. Anyone have other ideas?

    (BTW... this book is pretty much one huge easter egg - the plot of the later part, when they get to Quindley, is based on Children of the Corn, a short story in Skeleton Crew. Guess LJ decided to have some fun with this one.)
    )3az )3aziah
    British Bloke
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    12/29/2011 1:01 PM

    Hope you had a good Christmas?

    I've go no idea where this book was set and never asked LJ about it sadly. There is however a Lonesome Gulch Lake located in Caroline County, Virginia, it's a man made reservoir.

    But Laurence was known to make up locations for his stories, the theme park in Dark Carnival for example and we also never get to find out the location of the redoubt in Chill factor when Ryan meets up again with Zimyanin.

    I think you are spot on with your thoughts that it is one huge "tip of the hat" to Stephen King. Sadly we now will never know!

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    12/30/2011 8:34 PM
    Hi I googled Lonesome Gulch and got three sites in the lower 48 states that are called Lonesome Gulch

    They are in Virginia , Colorado , & Oregon so maybe one of them was the inspiration for the one in the book .
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    1/1/2012 5:18 PM
    Baz: Yeah, it was good. And yeah, I know he took some liberties. Rider, Reaper, for example, featured the JC Wright Caverns - completely fictitious, but supposedly not as big as Carlsbad, nor as many bats (that's close to an exact quote; I just can't find it). Pony Soldiers places Canyon de Chelly in New Mexico, but it's actually in Arizona (see my note on the gateways page).

    The amusement park in Dark Carnival is easy - it's based on Disneyworld. As far as the redoubt in Chill Factor... the archives have it placed in the Yukon, just over the Canadian border (though how the US Government built a redoubt in Canada is beyond me...). I did some research and found that Alberta has vast sulfur reserves, but it isn't found anywhere else. Alberta's a bit far to travel, so he probably moved the mine up to Alaska.

    I'd really love to find out where Ryan went in Cold Asylum, and I wish LJ could've expanded on the constant hints he kept dropping about people still involved in the TC (he might never have intended to do so, but he was infamous for foreshadowing - the companions got hints and clues about the samurai several times before actually meeting them).

    twins: Colorado sounds about right - it's a ghost town cobbled together for the tourists, and the sign calls it "The Famous Ghost Town of the Old West". The real Lonesome Gulch is right near Arapaho National Forest, as well - chances are there's a redoubt there, and the whitecoats set up their experiment near the conveniently-located town nearby.