Category Archives: Historical

September 1883 – the Cajon Pass

September 1883 to California Southern Railroad, with Santa Fe backing, completed its line northward from National City ( just south of San Diego)  to San Bernardino. The next step was to build a line to connect with the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad’s line  from Albuquerque, New Mexico, to Needles, and the California Southern Extension Railroad was formed for this purpose. The A&P was known as the  35th Parallel Route and was a joint venture  by  the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad (the AT&SF  railroad became the AT&SF  railway in December 1895)   and the St. Louis in San Francisco Railway (Frisco).

Cajon Canyon

A railroad line across the Mojave desert from Mojave to needles, at the Colorado River,  had been built by the Southern Pacific in 1882- 1883 to thwart the A&P’s  westward advance,  but was later acquired by the A&P  in a trade wherein SP  obtained Santa Fe’s line to Guaymas, Mexico. Prior to this swap,  the A&P  least the  Needles-Mojave  line from the SP beginning October 1, 1884, and its trains make connection with SP trains at Mojave.

The SP plan to build a line overcome would pass to connect its San Joaquin Valley line with its line from Los Angeles to El Paso, and kept a watchful eye for any activity that might indicate that another railroad was intending to build through the Pass.  Thus, when CSRR’s  chief engineer, Fred T Perris, and his survey party settled up their horses and headed eastward from San Bernardino through San Gorgonio Pass  at Beaumont indents to Morongo Valley,   some 40 miles (64km)  east of Cajon Pass,  SP observers were confident that this CSRR  had a different route in mind and would not attempt to build through Cajon.

Then Perris, one certainly was not being followed, headed westward through Lucerne Valley in approach cone pass from the east by a more southerly route,  where the Pass  could be entered at a much lower elevation than the LA&I’s  abandoned, several miles to the northwest. No tunnel would be needed along this route, but extensive cutting and filling would be required in the first few miles below the canyon rim.

by the time the SP realized what Paris was up to, his party had staked a line through the Pass, and the California Southern Extension Railroad was soon being constructed between San Bernardino and Waterman Junction (shortly to be renamed Barstow after William Barstow Strong, president of the Santa Fe)  on the A&P The last spike was driven November 9, 1885, and the city of San Diego now had a rail connection to the east.

More than eight decades would pass before SP rails entered the Cajon Pass.

A network of railroads grew rapidly throughout Southern California, and in 1889  the California Southern Railroad  and two other short lines were merged into Southern California Railway Company.  in 1897, the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway Company took over the A&P  and reorganized it under the name Santa Fe Pacific. In 1902 the  Santa Fe Pacific became just another part of the AT&SF, and in 1906 the Southern California Railway lost its name to the Santa Fe system.

from:
Cajon,  Rail Passage to the Pacific by Chard  L. Walker
Trans-Anglo BooksGlendale, California

Massacres at the Amargosa Mine

As the first group of Mormon pioneers made their way across the Mojave in 1849, two of them looking for a water source for their livestock explored a canyon and found streaks of gold in the rock. They moved on to Southern California, purchased supplies and equipment, and immediately returned to develop the prospect.

Amargosa house at Salt Creek

Amargosa House

In 1852 the house was first built to provide a permanent shelter and protection for the operation. The ruins of the 3-room house on the hill aren’t much to look at, but the building more than served its purpose over the 100 years it was in use.

In late October of 1864 three miners named Cook, Plate and Gordon were working the mine and living in the house. A band of Paiute attacked the camp and killed Cook then burned the mill in the canyon below. Plate and Gordon survived the attack and high-tailed it off into the desert. Without water their deaths would be slow and painful. About 20 miles away the two men decided to avoid the agony and killed themselves.

Amargosa mine

View of mine from Amargosa House

December of 1864 (or possibly 1866) another company took over the claims. It wasn’t long until there was another Indian raid in which the mine was attacked. There was the advantage that the Indians had been spotted camped out at a nearby spring, so one of the miners made his way to Marl Springs 45 miles away to ask the military for help. The seven miners remaining had not realized the escape was successfully made and help was on its way. The next morning before dawn they attempted to make a run for it and all were killed.

~ Source – BLM

The Original Inhabitants

Demythifying American Indians
from: The Original Inhabitants  – What They Lost and What They Retained
~ by Dr. Gayle Olson-Raymer

#5. The “Hindrance to Progress” Myth: In order to ensure the survival and progress of the civilized, European, Christian settlers, it was inevitable that the Indians be defeated.

Reality. European progress was impeded not because the indigenous peoples were uncivilized and incapable of living harmoniously with the settlers, but because Europeans were unwilling and incapable of accepting the American Indians’ political, social, economic, and spiritual traditions as civilized.  The real obstacles that got in the way of European acceptance of Indian peoples were that they were not Christians and no visible forms of worshipping God; they made no effort to subdue the land and make it profitable; they had no understanding of the importance of private property; and they were not willing to give up their land and submit to English rule.

So what are the facts?

  • Many first hand accounts describe the Indians of the North continent and of the West Indies as friendly, peaceful, and welcoming.
  • Juan Rodiquez Cabrillo, when writing about his voyage along the Southern California coast in 1542, observed, “very fine valleys [with] maize and abundant food … many savannahs and groves” that were “densely populated” and “thickly settled” when Indians who often greeted the Spanish ships in friendship and traded with them of peaceful ceremonies. (Stanndard, 1992:23.)
  • If such communities were not comprised of uncivilized savages who threatened European settlement and white progress, why has the myth persisted? Several historians have flatly stated that the image of native barbarism and savagery serves to rationalize European conquest. (Francis Jennings, The Invasion of America: Indians, Colonialism, and the Cost of Conquest. Chapel Hill: Univ. of No. Carolina Press, 1975; Robert F. Berkhofer, Jr., The White Man’s Indian: Images of the American Indian from Columbus to the Present. NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1978; and David Stannard, American Holocaust. NY: Oxford Univ. Press, 1992.)
  • What, then, were the obstacles that got in the way of European acceptance of the indigenous peoples:
    • The Indians were not Christians nor did they have any visible forms of worshipping God.
    • The Indians had made no effort to subdue the land – to make it profitable.
    • The Indians had no understanding of private property.
    • The Indians were not willing to be ignored.

http://users.humboldt.edu/ogayle/hist110/na.html

The 1866 Summit Valley Massacre

An 1866 massacre witness describes historic massacre

From a letter supplied by Harry L. Anderson  to  the Hesperia  Gazette, as printed in the Victor Press, January 12, 1956:

San Bernardino, California  March 31, 1866

Mrs. H. E. Parrish
Respected Madam:

According to your request, I will try to state on paper the circumstances of the death of your lamented husband. On the 22nd he came over to Mr. Dunlop’s ranch on the Mojave, 18 miles from this town across the mountains and joining reserve all went to gathering up cattle.

The foreman of Sunday the 25th myself and a Californian saw about 2 1/2 miles from the Rancho, the fresh trail of a party of the Indians –  precise number then unknown.

Arriving at the house, while snatching about 2 o’clock a hasty meal,  I made our discovery known, but no danger was apprehended by any of myself, and that was only to a slight extent.

Cottonwood tree

Cottonwood tree at the massacre site in Summit Valley

After dinner, Mr. Parrish, Nephi Bemis, and myself started afresh after stock, but as the mule I was riding was worn down, I was dispatched to take the place of Mr. Pratt Whiteside at the herd and to tell him to go with Mr. Parrish  in my stead.  That was the last I saw of those poor men until we found them cold in death, the victims of savage cruelty. While guarding the herd of cattle already collected being nearest the hills, the Californian already mentioned and on whose mind the Indian sign (steering  as it was for the Valley we were in)  had made an impression, came from the other side of the herd around to me and said he had heard eight loud rapid reports in the foothills at a point nearer to me than him, but the high winds that prevailed blue directly towards him but past the rest of us. the shots were considered by some of the men below me to have been shots fired at a vicious cow in the chemisal, which Mr. Parrish said that day he would shoot if bothered anymore.

After bloody moments talk, I returned to my post near the ill and immediately saw the horses of Mr. Parrish  and Mr. Bemis   running riderless from the hills. Sparing after them, the attention  of the rest was attracted and we soon got Mr. Parrish’s horse  with blood on his shoulder and on the saddle. No  More was needed to tell the sad tale and I immediately hurried to acquaint Mr. Dunlop, was lying sick of the house, with the facts, and to get more arms and men to finish the red fiend’s  if we met them in search of our friends.

Many causes, chiefly the brushy character of the place and its extent, combined to baffle our search and it was not until sundown that we found poor Bemis–lifeless–  all circumstances around, indubitably proof of the work of the Chimchueva Indians, some 30 or 40 of whom by mistake and charity, almost criminal, had been allowed to stay around this town during the past winter and prepare for such hellish deeds as this.

Further search that evening for the other missing men proved unavailing and though much fatigued, who can sleep? Two men to whom we all felt attached, shrouded in all uncertain fate, the veil of which morning could lift and reveal.

Possibly only wounded, yet helpless, leading, alas dying instant death preferable to the anguish of a night of such a state.

Quietly as possible the next morning we marched again on our mournful errand. After about a two-hour search we found poor Whiteside, surrounded by evidence of having fought and fully, as the ground around in the uncommon number of wounded (some 23 in all)  knew sad evidence of a bravery that was all in vain.

Soon we found  poor Edwin– hid in a clump of young  oak, and covered in rubbish, except one foot, a portion of which uncovered, by its white appearance, drew our attention. He too had died fearlessly as was shown by this stone in his right hand, which as he had no pistol or other weapon with him, he had used for want of a better.

Mr. Bemis receiving a mortal wound by the passage of a large ball, cutting the jugular vein down through the lung  died instantly, or nearly so. Mr. Parrish,  I think and hope suffered not long.

The Indians carried off all of Whiteside’s  riding rig,  also the  clothes of all three of their victims and Whiteside’s pistol. His horse  they ate in the vicinity that night.

But I have already become tedious in this mournful story. As its object, however, is intended to spare you the frequent recital of your husband’s  sad fate, a full relation of particular’s will enable you to escape the laceration of the feeling of a widowed wife and mother by the many who do not realize your affliction.

Respectfully yours,
/s/J.W.  Gillette

An Invitation to Summit

Dear Sir:

When I came over here three months ago, I brought four copies of Desert with me. Needless to say they have become rather dogeared as I have read them from cover to cover several times, and passed them around to my friends who have enjoyed them immensely.

Desert Magazine, Oct. 1942

Desert Magazine, Oct. 1942

The last day I was in sunny Southern California (it rained all the time I was in Frisco waiting to embark), I made one last sojourn to our desert retreat—the summit of Cajon pass. Few people know of this unique retreat, except those who pass by on the trains, and then all they see is a street-car tucked awav on the side of a hill, 200 yards from the tracks.

The street-car is the former Los Angeles railway’s funeral car Descanso. A group of railfans, known as Railroad Boosters, became interested when it was known the car was to be scrapped,and decided something should be done about it. So far as we were able to tell the Descanso was the only funeral car in existence, and to delegate such an ornate car to the junk heap was not a very fitting end. The L. A. railway then told us that if we could find a place to put it we could have it as a sort of museum piece. After several months of scouting around, we decided on summit. On July 4, 1940, the Descanso was hauled up to summit by flatcar on the Santa Fe. Eight of us spent a very strenuous day unloading the car. It weighed 18 tons.

Chard Walker watching trains pass from the terrace beside the Decanso in 1954. From his book, “Railroading in the Pass”

Three weekends were spent in getting the car to its present position, by the tedious process of laying a section of track in front, pulling the car up with a truck by means of block and tackle, then picking up the section in the rear, placing it up front again, etc. Then began the process of scraping off the old paint, removing the seats, and taking out a few of the unnecessary controllers, etc.

Route 66, Cajon Pass

Route 66, Cajon Pass

In the two years that have passed since its arrival at summit, the Descanso has gradually transformed from a dirty looking old streetcar, to that of a newly painted, well furnished cabin. From the exterior it still has the same general appearance of a streetcar as it still is on wheels on a section of rail, the trolley is still up, and still has the stained glass in the upper halves of the windows.

Quite a change has taken place on the interior though. Only two of the original seats are left in place with a folding table in between. A pot bellied stove, and a wheesy old phonograph well stocked with records, dominate the center of the car, while an icebox, a few chairs and another table and a small but complete kitchen take up the rest of the available space. Eventually we may put some folding bunks in one end, but due to material shortage, we content ourselves with sleeping on the floor in our sleeping bags.

Highway 138 entering Horse Thief Canyon - Summit Valley

Highway 138 entering Horse Thief Canyon (Summit Valley)

We find it an ideal spot to go on a weekend, either as a home camp for a small hunting expedition, or for hiking up and down the railroad, the mountains, or just to lie around in the sun and watch the trains go by.

For anyone wishing to visit Summit, just go up Cajon Pass on U. S. 66 to Camp Cajon, and turn east (right if leaving from San Bernardino). This road is known as the back road to Arrowhead. It’s about five miles from 66 to Summit which can’t be missed as the road leaves the twisting mountain road onto the level Summit valley road. Off to the left about a quarter of a mile is the railroad station of Summit with its scattering of section houses and the post office. The Descanso is directly behind the station.

Summit

Summit

In closing I wish to extend a cordial welcome to anyone visiting Summit, and wish I could be there and meet them personally. Until the war ends I’ve got to be content to visit the desert via Desert Magazine.

Robert W. McGrew – Honolulu, Territory of Hawaii

1917 Summit Valley History

From a hand written copy on file at the Victor Valley College Library – Author Unknown

More than 30 years ago the green grass and running water of Summit Valley attracted the white people who later became the first settlers here. Mr. Houghton  took up a Government claim, the plan now included in the Las Flores Ranch. Cattle were driven in from Arizona to be fattened and then driven to market San Bernardino. This entire family was given over as a cattle range. The grassy slopes afforded splendid pasture lands and Mr. Houghton was well pleased.

Las Flores Ranch

Las Flores Ranch

Still there were some hardships to be endured in this new country. Many wild animals roam the hills, mountain lions stole the young cattle in the small brown bears came in droves to find what they could  to eat.  At times Mrs. Houghton and the children were obliged to climb into the attic of their house to be safe from the bears.  After robbing the  hives  of honey, these bears would go back into the nearby hills and mountains, disturbing nothing more.

The Indian inhabitants of the valley were unfriendly and while Mr. Houghton owned the ranch three men were killed by the Indians in ambush.

About 30 years Mr. Bircham  bought the ranch and continued to run it as a cattle ranch. Each year more cattle were put on the range. A great many horses were brought into the valley too. These proved to be a temptation for horse thieves, who made a regular practice of stealing horses and selling them in other places. Finally the two neighboring canyons received the names  of Big and Little Horse Thief Canyon. At length the horse thieves were driven out but the smaller of the two canyons still retains the name of Horse Thief Canyon, the larger known as Summit Valley.

Little Horse Thief Canyon

Little Horse Thief Canyon

All traveling was done with horses until a railroad called the Southern California was built. This road went through in the year 1883 and 1884 and followed the old Santa Fe Railway Company.  The highest point along the road was called Summit and a station was established there at once. It was located about 6 miles west of the Bircham Ranch  and became their shipping point for supplies.

At the time when it was believed that oil was hidden in the land all through Southern California, the Summit Valley was located for oil, but the government authority on oil found that it was not present in this land.

The Arrowhead Reservoir and Power Company  wish to buy up lands in the mountains in order to gain the water rights attached. Mr. Bircham’s  holdings of 1200 acres were bought and various other lands nearby.

The ranch was now owned by a company, it was no longer the Bircham Ranch  or the Houghton Ranch,  so another name was to be found. The name decided upon was “Las Flores,”  meaning The Flowers, and a very fitting name it was as one looks towards Mount Baldy and its companions, the fields in the summer time seem yellow with flowers.

Summit Valley with San Gabriel Mountains

The ranch was still conducted as a cattle ranch but it was not long before the range, on which the cattle had Rome, was disputed by new settlers. In 1912, Mr. Searle  and family filed on government land for a home. Later in the same year, Mr. Blumberg’s  family moved in, then Mr. Watson, and so it has been ever since that time.

There were enough children in 1913 to form a new school district and open the school. Within the next year  a post office and store were opened. Fertile land with quantities of water upon it rock about these changes in Summit Valley.

At the present time and option is held on the holdings of the Arrowhead Reservoir and Power Company, to be closed within the next eight months. This land is to be sold with the water rights, for the purpose of irrigating 100,000 acres of land in the Victor Valley changing it into a great garden.

 San Bernardino looks upon this great undertaking with interest. It will mean much to that city since this section in San Bernardino are connected by a automobile and railroad.

Scrapbook of Memories of Summit Valley & Cedar Springs
from before the Tin Lizzy until after Silverwood Lake – collected by Isabelle Rue Rentfro

1864 Travel Tip – Hold Hostages

From the diary of Sarah J. Rousseau , 1864:
Regarding traveling with Indians across the Mojave

Sunday, November 6 … The lava that has been thrown out looks like cinders. The mountains, some of them have a grand appearance, some a red color while others have a white appearance. Some of them I think must be 400 feet high. This canyon is called Diamond. at the mouth it takes us into Santa Clara Valley which we traveled through and down a pretty dangerous hill to Santa Clara Creek where we got food and shelter for horses. Here came a number of Paiute Indians. they are a tribe that is very fond of horse flesh to eat, and will steal anything they can lay their hands on. We have came today 20 miles.

Santa Clara/Virgin River divide

Monday, November 7. Started from camp late this morning. It is a cold, windy time. The Dr. had to prescribe and deal out medicine for a little child that belonged to a Mormon Bishop. About breakfast time a number of Indians came to the camp and we gave some their breakfast. When we started four of them started with us, three of them on foot and one on horseback. They are miserable looking creatures. Some of them almost entirely destitute of clothing. I believe it is their intention to go to the Muddy with us. as for me I would rather have their room than their company. I am afraid of them. We have crossed the Santa Clara 15 times this morning, and have now camped. It is cold and windy, a real disagreeable time.

Sarah Jane Rousseau

Sarah Jane Rousseau

Tuesday, November 8. A cold blustering morning, the wind blowing hard all night. Started from our camp rather late with an escort of from 10 to 15 Paiute Indians. Last night two of them stayed with us as prisoners. Our guide, Mr. Hatten, said it would not do to let them leave camp after dark, as they might get some other Indians, come back and do us some mischief. We started from camp with five, which increased to 15 of them. We crossed the Santa Clara this morning 14 times in after going 12 miles made a dry camp at Camp Springs, having filled our kegs the last crossing place. the Indian chief told the guide we must all give them something for traveling through their country, to renumerate them for using water and grass. We all gave them some flour. We intend to let them have the care of our horses tonight, they are going to take the cattle as well. The Chief with four others we kept as prisoners till morning when they bring back the stock. Then they will be free.

Virgin River

Virgin River

Wednesday, November 9. A pretty warm morning. Started from camp about sunup. The Indians brought back the stock safely back. Left camp with our escort, traveled over some rough roads till noon. This afternoon the road’s much better. Passed over the summit between the Clara and Virgin, went 5 miles in the canyon and camped. Some grass for the stock but no water.

Wagon Master Nicholas Earp Wyatt's dad.

Wagon Master Nicholas Earp

Thursday, November 10. A cool but pleasant morning. Last night the Indians were prisoners again. They left the stock go on to the mountains to feed. We fed five among us. All are willing to do so but Mr. Earp. He swears and cuts up about it, although he derives the same benefit as the rest of us. I fear he may cause us some trouble when we get to the Muddy. … “

Oro Grande

Trains & Railroads

Victor Valley

History of Lucerne Valley

by Ethel V. Owen

In the early days, natural springs in what now is Lucerne Valley provided good camping grounds for Indians on their way into the San Bernardino Mountains together pinon nuts. The Indians  resented white pioneers settling in the territory and committed some violent acts against them. Instead of discouraging the settlers, caused them to marshal forces and attack the Indians  who were of the Paiute, Chemehuevi and Serrano tribes. in February 1867 a decisive battle at chimney rock caused the Indians to retreat and leave the territory to the white pioneers. (Chimney Rock is at the north edge of Rabbit Dry Lake. A quite complete story of the Chimney Rock Massacre is available at the Lucerne Valley branch of the county library.)

Rabbit Springs

Rabbit Springs

In July, 1873 five men, L. D. Wilson, John E. McFee, W. S. Manning, W. P. Morrison and (?) Holmes located the springs known as Rabbit Springs. They laid claim to the Springs and 100 surrounding acres 20 acres each according to a recorded document.

In 1884 Peter Davidson operated a way station at Rabbit Springs. Travelers could get fresh water, exchange news, rest and sleep over. “Uncle Pete” died in 1906. His grave is at the corner of Kendall Road and Rabbit Springs Road.

Pete Davidson's grave

Pete Davidson’s grave

In 1886,  W. W. Brown brought his family to this valley, which was without a name at the time. Brown had the water rights at the Box S. (The Box S ranch is where the drainage ditch now crosses Highway 18.) The family stayed at “Uncle Pete’s” until an abandoned house could be moved on to the Box S property.

Box S Ranch, Lucerne Valley, CA.

Box S Ranch, Lucerne Valley, CA.

In 1896 Al Swarthout  acquired the Box S, intending to raise cattle. There was plenty of water but not much  forage. Swarthout and a friend found a place about 15 miles to the east, that had even more water and lots of forage.  after one year he gave up on the Box S  and moved to Old Woman Springs Ranch. (It is said the Indians used to leave their old people camped here while the young ones went into the mountains to forage for pinon nuts.)

In 1897 James Goulding came to the Box S  with his wife Anna and two small children, Mamie and George.  Three more children, Minnie, Jim, and Nelly were born in Lucerne Valley. “Dad” Goulding proved the fertility of our soil with his apple orchard, vegetable garden and alfalfa fields.  He also raised cows, horses and other animals. He dug a well which proved to be artesian.

Alfalfa field in Lucerne Valley

Alfalfa field in Lucerne Valley

In 1905 a friend suggested to Goulding that this valley should have a name.  Because of his success in growing alfalfa (also  known as lucerne)  he christened this place Lucerne Valley.

Dad Goulding is generally acknowledged as the founder of Lucerne Valley. In 1907 Goulding legally established Lucerne Valley School District. Hanna Brown, a cousin whose family lived in near by Oro Grande, came to live with the Gouldings so the requirement of six students could be met. The school building was a former cook shack on wheels, 8′ x 18′.  With wheels removed and one end of the inside painted black for a blackboard, the school opened on September 9, 1907 on the Box S Ranch.

In the meantime, more families were settling all over Lucerne Valley, and Goulding donated property in 1910 for a new school where the Baptist Church now stands.

In 1912, people in the east end of the valley thought the  school should be closer to them,  so they formed a new school district  to be known  as Midway. Still another school district, Rodman, was formed in North Valley, in 1915.

View of Lucerne Valley from North Valley

View of Lucerne Valley from North Valley

Then, in 1916, windstorms and fire destroyed both Lucerne Valley and Midway schools. all the students attended Rodman school until the other two were rebuilt, which took a couple of years  because of wartime problems. In 1920 Rodman School District lapsed and joined with Midway, which by then was in its present form.

In 1941 was certain school was condemned as unsafe and all  students went to Midway. The building and grounds were purchased by the Community Church ( not the present Community Church) and used until 1952. It was then that the building burned to the ground during a terrific  windstorm at night.  Construction was begun in 1952 on the new Lucerne Valley School at its present site.

Lucerne Valley’s library began in 1912 with 140 books in the front room of the Box S ranch house. Most of them were for school use, but some could be borrowed by local residents. In 1915 the library was at Midway school. In 1916 storm damage some of the books in the library was moved to the Boom Ranch on Wilshire, northeast of Midway. After being closed during World War I, both Midway school and the library reopened in September 1918. The library continued as a combination school-public library until March 1928, when it became a community branch of the county library system.

The Lucerne school building was condemned for school use, so the library moved in. When the church  bought the building, the library was moved into a smaller room there. Later it was moved into a small, narrow trailer behind the present China House.  Ethel Windschanz Clapton, the librarian, said that looking out the little, porthole shaped windows during a strong wind made her feel like she was on a sinking ship.

The library moved begin to the building which was occupied by the Sheriff’s office. Mrs. Vera Russell was one of the librarians at that location. The library then moved into the building generously provided by John Russell (Vera’s  son) at very low rent.  From there moved into its beautiful new permanent home for which ground was broken March 17, 1988.

Lucerne Valley post office was established in 1912 at the ranch of John and Rosa Koehly, who came here in 1909. It was on the southeast corner of Rabbit Springs Road and Post Office road.  (Have you wondered about the road name?) Rosa Koehly  was postmistress. Some days only eight cents worth of stamps were canceled, so that was the postmistress’s salary.

In 1935, the post office moved to a one-room building on the highway, west of the Box S Ranch, with Ed Smith as postmaster.  (Ed Smith was also a licensed electrician  and Scoutmaster of Troop 71,  Lucerne Valley’s first Boy Scout troop, from 1928 to 1933. Some of those scouts are still living here, among them  Harold Reed and Dick Owen.)

Downtown Lucerne Valley, CA.

Downtown Lucerne Valley, CA.

Later the post office moved again, to shared the Clark building with John Hutson’s and Irving Seeberg’s hardware store. ( The Clark building is now occupied by the China House.)  Flora and Clark was postmistress. The post office moved again to “the triangle”  on Verdugo Road at Oracle Road ( now renamed Oracel  by the county street sign makers.)  Early postmasters there were  Vern Ely and Ray Bonin. The post office is now in its permanent location on Highland Avenue south of Highway 18.

A volunteer fire department was first organized during World War II, along with fire watchers, skywatchers, plane watchers, civil defense, etc. In the early 50s a fire house was built with donated material (cinderblock) and volunteer labor.  it was located about where Shell gas station/ Halleck’s Market  is now. They had a unique system. People would phone Dick’s Center Store to report fires. Dick Grobaty would then press a button on his wall, which was wired to the siren on top of the firehouse. That was how the  volunteer firemen were summoned. The building was torn down after a  short period and the present County fire district was formed in 1962-63. At that time it still operated with volunteer firemen and one paid chief.

Lucerne dry lake

Lucerne dry lake

Some of the descendants of the early settlers still live here. John Russell’s father, William Russell in 1911 had filed on land called Lucerne Springs which brought son John here to live in 1949. He has been building houses and commercial buildings ever since. Also in 1911, Theodore P. Owen filed on 640 acres to miles north of Midway school his son, Dick, has come and gone but has lived here steadily since 1950.

View from shack at Gobar Ranch

View from shack at Gobar Ranch

Athene Siewerda  was another very early settler. She was the first to have pistachio trees here. Her son, Joe Sherman, lives here now  Orlando (Jake)  and Mildred Jacobs came here in 1928. There were about 250 people in Lucerne Valley then. At the Jacobs home in North Valley, Jake bake 60 or 70 loaves of bread, sweet rolls, cakes and pies on Saturdays and sold them through Max Lewis’s grocery store. Later he rented from Goulding  the building now housing the Rosebud Gift Shop and established Homestead Bakery and Grocery. At that same time Mildred ran the Jackrabbit Café, located on land now occupied by Halleck’s Market.  In 1936 Jake in Mildred moved their house onto land they bought from the Southern Pacific Railroad, the southeast corner of Barstow Road and old woman Springs Road. The Jacobs  donated 10 acres of their land which is now Pioneer Park. As Jake’s health failed, Mildred gave up  the café  and ran the Homestead Bakery. She, along with other citizens, still found time to clear implant for the park, along with other citizens. The Jacobs had two daughters, Shirley Ann  and Millie Lou. Millie Lou lives in Maryland and Shirley Ann (Mrs. Bob Fuller)  lives in Apple Valley.

Ethel Owen came in 1946 as Ethel  Johnston and built Lucerne Valley’s first beauty shop.  Ethel  and Dick Owen  were married in 1950 in the old community church and their daughter, Lilli Ann, born in 1952, was dedicated there shortly before it burned down.

The foregoing was prepared by  Ethel Owen  on March 25, 1988 from material obtained from Lucerne Valley library and from her own memory. She apologizes for any inaccuracy of dates of facts and/or  omissions. There is much to be added that could not be contained in these pages.

From: History of Lucerne Valley by Ethel V. Owen
Mohahve V – Scrapbooks of History – 1991, 2016
Mojave Historical Society