Emmett Harder

Death Valley Explorer Emmett Harder

Death Valley Explorer Emmett HarderModern day adventurer, prospector and gold seeker, Death Valley explorer Emmett Harder is a story teller without equal. He introduces readers to what it is really like to try and strike it rich in the Death Valley region.

Emmett Harder could be called the real “Indiana Jones”. He has no movie double and has enjoyed unconventional opportunities. Born during the 1930’s economic depression. He grew up as latch-key child through the 1940’s, while his father and mother and his four older brothers were caught up in the nation’s WWII war effort.

Emmett Harder’s Military Service

Even before his life was interrupted to take part in the Korean conflict, and he was be sent on a clandestine attempt to save the French at Dien Bien Po, in what later became the Vietnam war, he was out prowling the great desert. Having traveled to many far away places and worked on a variety of projects, he still says, “I feel most at home in the wastelands of Death Valley. I have always been a child of the desert, starting at 14 years old and dragging my 11 year old brother with me. And like the old prospector in the “Treasure of The Sierra Madre” story, I’m still out there looking for the next strike.”

Emmett is a writer, lecturer, historian and researcher. He teaches at Cal State University San Bernardino’s Extended Education Division. Often he leads organized safaris into historic and mysterious places. As reader at the Huntington Research Library, with his unique understanding of how things really happen, he is often lost in the distant adventures.


Born on Aug 1, 1932 in San Bernardino, CA, Death Valley explorer Emmett Harder is a natural adventurer.  At the time, his parents owned a farm in Fontana, CA. He blames his adventurous streak on his great-grandmother, Emma J. Rich, his mentor as he grew up. During WWII, being next to the last of six boys, he was a latch key child. His family was separated and spread out. Emma had come to Los Angeles in the 1880s from a gold mining town in Arizona and she shared with me her adventures with miners and gold and Indians. The seed was cast. Emmett was further inspired by listening to the radio program, The Old Ranger, on his big cabinet radio alone in his upstairs bedroom.

During part of the Korean and Vietnam conflicts he was in the service and I was involved in clandestine operations; later while working for Lockheed Aircraft, Harder was again involved in classified operations. He worked in construction as an Explosives Engineer. However all his life, starting with his father when he was six years old, he was out in the desert at times and when he was 14, Harder took my younger brother to Death Valley and the two of them alone started exploring there whenever we could.

He has written three books and published several papers. Harder has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois and University of California. He teaches extended education courses at California State San Bernardino. He is also a member of the International Society of Explosives Engineers.

High Resolution Color Press Photo
High Resolution Black and White Press Photo
Photo credit: Timothy Linsdau

 These Canyons are Full of Ghosts

Death Valley Explorer Emmett Harder | These Canyons are Full of GhostsOne only has to pick up a copy of These Canyons are Full of Ghosts to learn about the hard baked life of Death Valley explorer Emmett Harder.

These Canyons are Full of Ghosts information page

From the inside cover

“If you love the desert and it’s mysteries, if you enjoy California’s wester lore, if you are an adventurer, This is your book. You will find it quite different in style and story than you have ever read before– and it’s true!”
J. P. Elingsworth

“These Canyons are Full of Ghosts will take you back to the miles of mountains and valleys and Canyons of Death Valley. Read it and you will begin to feel what Emmett Harder felt so many times when he was prospecting and Mining in the Panamint Mountains.”
Edward Leo Lyman, PhD, Western Historian

From the author

“This is the true account of my own adventures as a gold miner with the last prospectors in Death Valley. At a time when the area was still the old west, with people of that era, colorful adventurers. Before the common man lost out and the government took over everything.  It might be said that the theme of this tale could be-Gold is a Devilish Thing, if I might borrow a line from the Treasure of Sierra Madre story.”

“I don’t know of anyone else left that had packed with burros, a pick and shovel and gold pan.”

Experience the bounty and cruelty of the desert with Death Valley Explorer Emmett Harder