The Los Angeles Times reported on Cerro Gordo, or "fat hill," which in the 1860s and 70s averaged one murder every week.
Numerous California ghost towns have been turned into parks, such as Bodie and Calico. Cerro Gordo, however, is privately owned, and Patterson's goal is to keep the dusty, paint-peeling town in a state of "arrested decay."
Patterson told the Times he is restoring the town in honor of his late wife, Jody Stewart Patterson, whose family owned the town.
Cerro Gordo reportedly prospered after the Civil War, but was abandoned in 1888.
To keep the town's dilapidated look, Patterson has braced sagging buildings and taken other steps so nothing looks new. Patterson said the only sound in town "is the whistle of the wind blowing through all the bullet holes in every building up here."