Category Archives: Historical

The Salt Cave

Virgin River — Littlefield, Az

Campsite near confluence of Muddy and Virgin rivers.

“These Indians are Pa utch but not as wild as those above the Mt. their women and children did not run off. I saw at their Lodges a large cake of rock salt weighting 12 or 15 lbs and on enquiry found that they procured it a cave not far distant.”

Lake Mead near St. Thomas

Lake Mead near St. Thomas

Journal of Jedediah Smith – 1826
http://mojavedesert.net/jedediahsmith/journal-1-02.html

“I turned off to the right across a level piece of ground about 1/2 mile to the foot of a hill which appears to be two or three mile long and 100 or 150 feet high its course being about parallel with the River which is here running S E or E S E.”

Journal of Jedediah Smith – 1826

Callville Wash, Lake Mead

Callville Wash, Lake Mead

Assorted geology – Lake Mead

“One of my men found a singular substance Some hard and transparent pieces of stone about twice as large as a large pea were firmly fixed in the side of a flat stone. Appearance of an abundance of Iron ore are seen here. and most certainly if a country produces minerals in proportion to its barrenness this must be rich in mineral productions.”

Journal of Jedediah Smith – 1826

lack Canyon, Colorado River

Black Canyon – Colorado River

“The River entering a low but rugged mountain below I found it would be necessary to turn off from it to the left and as my guides informed me that it was more than a days travel to the next accessible point on the river between which place and this no water could be found”

Journal of Jedediah Smith – 1826

Looking for water

Union Pass, Arizona

Union Pass, Arizona

Union Pass

Avi Kwa Ame – Spirit Mountain

Avi Kwa Ame

The Needles

Colorado River

Open country west of Colorado River

Paiute Creek

Cedar Canyon

Looking across Kelso Wash toward Marl Mountains

Looking across Kelso Wash toward Marl Mountains

Mojave Preserve

Providence Mountains and Kelso Wash from Marl Springs

Chaguanoso

In 1839, Cucamonga Rancho was granted by Gov. Juan B. Alvarado to Tiburcio Tapia, a prominent businessman in Los Angeles, serving just then as alcalde there. like old Don Antonio Maria Lugo, Tapia was a native born Californian and had been a corporal in the Presidio in Santa Barbara. During the Indian revolt in 1824 he was head of the guard at Mission La Purisima, and conducted himself with credit there. He had held various public offices afterward. He was prefect in 1840 during the great Chaguanoso raid on Southern California stock, and directed the pursuit of the robbers.

California archives abound in references to this outlaw raid of 1840, the greatest robbery of California stock that has occurred in the history of the state. If furnished all Southern California with thrills for weeks. On May 14, Juan Perez administrator of Mission San Gabriel, electrified the dozing occupants of the office of the alcalde at Los Angeles with the announcement that Chaguanosos had just robbed the mission of three bands of mares. Reports of similar losses at other points followed. Shortly, and great excitement developed. Three armed parties when pursuit of the ladrones; the first party, under Ygnacio Palomares, setting out the very next day. Palomares was from Rancho San Jose adjoining the Cucamonga Rancho.

The route of the horses stolen across the Mojave Desert

Two days later Felipe Lugo, one of the two Los Angeles justices of the peace, sent a formal notice to every outlying judicial officer and every rancho mayordomo that horses add stolen from San Gabriel to San Bernardino, and that men were needed to reinforce the party that had gone out with Palomares. With these notices went a list of men delegated to this task, and a warning that anyone failing to respond would be fined 20 pesos. Men were drafted from every rancho. Apparently some of the calls came after the quotas had been furnished; for an unsigned letter from San Gabriel to Justice Lugo states that the mayordomo, four vaqueros, and seven men armed with bows and arrows had already started and the Mission could send no more. The party to reinforce Palomares left under command of Juan Leandry, the second Los Angeles justice.

Rabbit Springs – Lucerne Valley, Ca.

Four days after receiving the news of the robbery, Prefect Tapia notified Justice Lugo that inasmuch as it was imperative that more men be sent to the two expeditions in the field, and since a third-party was proving hard to raise, he was ordering that prisoners in the jail be set free under the bond of the commander. Next day the names of three prisoners released on parole were made public.

Ill fortune followed Palomares’ party from the start. On the fourth day after his departure, Leandry, presumably on his way to join him, received word that Palomares had encountered the bandits and had been worsted by them. On the next day, five days after the raid, the third party set out, under José Antonio Carillo.

The Monument

Palomares’ party evidently scattered after its defeat, four, on the same day that the third-party left Los Angeles, Ygnacio Alvarado, of the San Jose Rancho, sent word that two of Palomares’ men had arrived there. Their encounter with the robbers had been on the other side of the “Monument,” a great natural landmark about 12 miles northeast of Rabbit Springs on the Mojave Desert. The outlaws were evidently heading for the caravan trail at what was later called Fork of the Roads. They must’ve crossed the Mojave River east of the present village of Daggett, near Newberry.

Fork in the Roads

Fork in the Roads

The Spanish custom of making wordy reports of all official doings shows throughout this affair.in fact one is tempted to believe that report making was an important part of the entire pursuit. Palomares reported on May 19, after his defeat, that he had arrived at (Old) San Bernardino with eight of the 23 man that had gone out with him; that in the attack on the Chaguanosos one white man and one Indians had been killed and one other man wounded; and that their mouths had been either killed or taken from them when they were retreating from the Rancho de las Animas, a cienaga south of what is now Victorville. Evidently the robbers had ceased for a time to be fugitives and had turned pursuers, and Palomares’ retreat from then on had been on foot.

Las Flores Ranch, Summit Valley, Hesperia, Ca.

Leandry reported on the 20th that he had joined Palomares at San Bernardino and midnight the night before with 18 men; that their combined forces numbered 26, all supplied with firearms and cartridges; and that they had proceeded to Cajon Pass where they were then awaiting further orders. He stated that until the day before a detachment of the enemy, numbering as high as a hundred, had occupied the camp where he then was.

A possible site of Campo de la Puente (Camp on the bridge)

On May 22, Carrillo reported from a place he called “Campo de la Puente”– that a reconnoitering party of 10 had left him at 8 o’clock in the morning of the day before to spy upon the enemy. While the party was then about 10 leagues from where he was writing, while awaiting the arrival of ammunition and arms from Los Angeles preparatory to continuing the pursuit. He reported that he had 225 horses, 75 good men, 49 guns, nine braces of pistols, 19 spears, 22 swords and sabers, and 445 cartridges, all in good condition.

From now on he seems to have been in command of the entire pursuing party which, according to him, consisted of “80 citizens.” In his report of June 1, made after the grand chase was ended and he had returned to Los Angeles, we find his account of the campaign. Justice Leandry had been with him and had also sent reports regularly. What became of Palomares does not appear. The ammunition Carrillo had been awaiting evidently reached him, and he had joined the reconnoitering party.

Bitter Springs

From the tracks of the robbers’ party he decided that they were driving about 3000 stolen animals and were traveling directly north. At 8 o’clock on the morning of the 24th, he had reached a place he called “Ojo de Agua de la Mesa,” where the tracks were very fresh. This was probably what is now called Bitter Springs.

The party left their baggage and their extra horses here, and on writing about six leagues farther, cited an enemy outlook. They chased him to the mountain, but he escaped from them. At four in the afternoon they noted a cloud of dust in the distance, and saw that the horses were being driven in separate bands. A little before sunset of the 25th, the rearguard of the robbers was surprised at a place called “Agua de Ramon,” a point reported by Leandry as about 100 leagues from Los Angeles. It was probably either Resting Springs or some spring in that vicinity.

Carrillo reported that this rearguard consisted of 20 riflemen; and according to Leandry, who claimed to have found a list of their names in an abandoned coat, they were citizens of the United States. Carrillo wrote that, I’m being warned of the approach of the pursuing party, the bandits fled precipitately, leaving saddles, clothing, and cooking utensils, while along the road lay about 1500 of the horses that had perished from thirst and hunger. Leandry wrote that in their flight the outlaws abandoned even their hobbled horses. Carrillo explained that his party had not pursued the robbers farther because of the exhausted condition of their own mounts and the lack of food. Leandry reported their return to Los Angeles on May 28, and ended with the comment that the robbers gained very little from the raid, since in the marches, made a full speed without water, they had lost more than half the horses. The pursuing party gained even less. Thus ended the affair that through all Southern California into a fever.

There is nothing in the archives to indicate who the Americans in this raid were. Bill Williams and Peg leg Smith have been mentioned as possible leaders, and there are reasons for believing that one or both of them were at least connected with it.

from;  Heritage of the Valley
San Bernardino’s first century
George W. Beatie & Helen Pruitt Beattie – 1939

Luncheon at the Ladies Club

And Scotty went on soliloquizing:

“I was down in San Berdo the other day, and a man got me into one of them women’s afternoon fandangos;  you know, one of them afternoon affairs where they all talk and don’t say nothing.  And a “fly-up-the-creek” woman came up, all “a side-winding,” and said: ‘Now Mr. Scott, I’m sure in your desert travels you must  have lots of opportunities to do kind  deeds. What you tell the ladies the kindest deeds you ever did?”

Death Valley Scotty

“Well, lady,”  I says, ” let me think a minute. One time several years ago I been traveling all day on a horse, and I came in on a dry camp way up in one of the canyons. There was an old road leading up to it; hadn’t been used for years; but I noticed fresh tracks on it. When I got to the camp, there sat an old man and an old woman.  They must have been 70 years old  apiece. wagonWhen they saw me they both began to cry, and I said: ‘ my goodness, how in the hell did you two ever get up here?’ Well,  they said, they were driving through the valley, and it was so hot they thought they were going to die, and they come up to this road and they thought it led to a higher place where it would be so hot, so they took it and got up there, and it was night, so they camped there all night in the morning they found their horse had wandered off. They had looked for him but he was gone, and they’d been there most a week and had no food. Well, I open my packet built a fire and made them a cup of coffee and fried some bacon and stirred up some saddle blankets (hot cakes)  for them, and say, you ought to see them two old folks eat! It cheered them up considerable.  We sat around the fire all the evening and powwowed, and they was a nice old couple. We all slept that night on the ground. They was pretty cold, so I gave them a blanket I had. The next morning I made them some more coffee and gave them some breakfast. I had to be going, so I packed up and got astride my horse. I sort of hated to leave the old couple; they seemed kind enough sort of people; but there was nothing else to do; so I said goodbye, and they both was crying; said  they’d sure die; no way for them to get out. They couldn’t walk. It was 100 miles from help, and there was no automobiles in those days. But I got on my horse and started off, and then I looked around and saw them to old people a-standing there crying, and, you know, I just couldn’t stand it to leave them to old people there alone to die, so I’d just took out my rifle and shot them both. Lady, that was the kindest deed I ever did.”

“Oh, Scotty,”  I said, “Why did you tell those women such a tale as that?”

“Well, you know all them bandits you meet when you go out; you got to tell them something,  ain’t you?”

“I suppose so, but it seems to me you might think up something better than that to tell at a ladies club meeting.”

“Well, that’s what I told that bunch, anyway. You’ve got to send up some kind of a howl if you’re going to be heard. There are so many free schools and so much ignorance.”

And Scotty lighted another fifteen cent cigar (he always smoked the best), …

 

from Death Valley Scotty by MabelBessie M. Johnson
– Death Valley Natural History Association

Death Valley Scotty

Springs & Things — Before Time Began

desert waterhole

I have heard that the Paiute Indians have a legend–a story they would tell about a giant who crossed the desert with an olla full of water in each arm. With each step he would leave his footprint in the ground, and water would spill from the olla into the hole as he walked on. The giant was so large that these waterholes were one day’s walk between each for a normal-sized man. The Indian learned this and used these waterholes to travel great distances and trade with other Peoples beyond the desert. As time went on and things went the way things do, one such trail became the Mojave Road. — Editor

History of Eastern Mojave & the Mojave Road

Mojave Desert Springs

Salt Lake Road

Mojave Road

Camp Cady

Legend of the Hassayampa

Wickenburg, Az.

Hassayampa River, Wickenburg, Az.

At any rate, it was not people who went into the desert merely to write it up who invented the fabled Hassayampa, of whose waters, if any drink, they can no more see fact as naked fact, but all radiant with the color of romance. I, who must have drunk of it in my twice seven years’ wanderings, am assured that it is worth while.

~ Land of Little Rain – Mary Austin
Country of Lost Borders

The legend of the Hassayampa River — The Hassayampa rises in Yavapai county on the northern slope of Mount Union- flows south and enters Gila River at Powers Butte in Maricopa county. It is said to be named by Pauline Weaver  and to mean–beautiful waters. One legend says–He who drinks above the trail is ever truthful – While he who drinks below is lost to the truth.

The Hassayampa Legend
-Andrew Downing

There’s a legend centuries old
By the early Spaniards told
Of a sparkling stream that “lies”
Under the Arizona skies
Hassayampa is its name
And the title of its fame
Is a wondrous quality
Known today from sea to sea
Those who drink it’s waters bright
Red man, white man, boor or Knight
Girls, or women, boys or men
Never tell the truth again!

Earp, California

Earp, California is an unincorporated community in San Bernardino County in the Sonoran/Mojave Desert transition next to the Colorado River at the California/Arizona state line in Parker Valley.

Welcome to Earp, California

Welcome to Earp, California

Earp, Ca. post office

Earp post office at the eastern end of Highway 62, ZIP 92242.

In 1910 the little town was named Drennan. In 1929 Drennan was renamed Earp in 1929 in honor of the nefarious Old West lawman and entrepreneur Wyatt Earp. Wyatt and Josephine Sarah Marcus, his common-law wife, lived in the area seasonally from about 1906 staking more than 100 claims near the base of the Whipple Mountains.

Vidal, California

Downtown Vidal, California

Wyatt Earp Cabin

Wyatt Earp, the legendary law man, gunfighter, gambler, businessman and miner along with his wife, Josephine, inhabited this “dream-come-true” cottage from 1925 through 1928, winter and spring months, while he worked his “Happy Days” mines in the Whipple Mountains a few miles north of this site. This is the only permanent residence they owned in their long lives.

They bought a small cottage in nearby Vidal and lived there during the fall, winter and spring months of 1925 – 1928, while he worked his “Happy Days” mines in the Whipple Mountains a few miles north. It was the only place they owned the entire time they were married. They spent the winters of his last years working the claims but lived in Los Angeles during the summers, where Wyatt died on January 13, 1929.

Happy Days Mine

Josie & Wyatt and dog at Happy Days mine west of Parker, Az.

Vidal/Parker area map

Sagebrush Inn: Route 66

Now, there is no question that Bessie catered to some wild goings on at the Sage Brush Inn, but the thing that seems to titillate people is the rather persistent rumor that she was a madam and operated a brothel. This rumor is wide spread and taken as a given by many, maybe most, and it is certainly strengthened when Bill Bender is one of those who states it to be a fact.

Sagebrush Inn

Bill lived right across the street from Bessie, was well acquainted with her, and was in a position to be in the know. He put it this way:

During World War II that [living] room did overtime as a ‘junior brothel’ for any lonesome airman stationed at George. Annie could always get in touch with a shady lady or two when the demand was there. It never really became a steady part of her business, but she was for anything that turned a profit.

There are also wild stories about how youngsters were not allowed in the place, not even during the day, and about thatched cribs, little shed-like structures, that dotted the back yard. However, in the early days as a service station this would seem most unlikely. Nor does it seem reasonable to suppose that Sagebrush Annie’s roadhouse would have brazenly had cribs on the premises with her family and friends in close proximity. Of course, in later years, with her relatives and friends gone, the situation would have been different.

from; Sagebrush Annie & the Sagebrush Route
By Richard D. Thompson

Walking the Mojave Indian Trail

Travel in General

Mataviam described travel in general to Kelly (1933: 23:7)  in the following way:

Travelers packed everything on their backs, and wore any kind of foot gear.  Children always wore shoes; if the children were too small to walk, their parents took turns carrying them.  They also took turns packing the water jar, which was carried in a burden basket (ais) or a net.  Blankets, etc., were taken.  Women took cooking utensils, including  manos, but not metates.  Men took weapons and walked ahead.  Dogs accompanied the party.  Children were given something to carry; perhaps a small skin sack, but not a burden basket or net.  Travel along certain routes had to be timed so that people could be sure that there would be water available in drier sections.  Timing  was particularly important if some of these sources were tanks and sandstone potholes.

Manos atop metates

from:
Southern Paiute – Chemehuevi Trails Across the Mojave Desert:
Isabel Kelly=s Data,  1932-33 (Darling/Sneed Symposium, AAA 2004)
Catherine S. Fowler
University of Nevada, Reno

Shorty Harris — Out to Lunch

 

Companion & Harris, Shorty, 1857-1934

Shorty Harris and companion eating next to an automobile somewhere in Death Valley during the 1920s. Rhyolite, Nevada was founded in 1904 after Shorty Harris and Ed Cross discovered Rhyolite Quartz at the Bullfrog mine. By 1906 the town had two railroad lines and a population of 10,000. The mines, however, did not produce as expected and by the early 1910s Rhyolite was abandoned. Aurora, Nevada was a silver mining boom town founded in 1860. The heyday of Aurora ran throughout the 1860s (Mark Twain briefly lived there), but it slowly declined after 1870. It went through a rebirth in 1912 when a new stamp mill and cyanide plant were built at the mines. In 1917, however, the mill closed down and by the early 1920s Aurora was abandoned. Calico, California was initially founded as a silver mining town in 1882 but by 1890 the cost of recovering the silver became prohibitive. The town, however, continued to exist until 1907 due to the production of Borax.

Shorty Harris

At Furnace Creek ranch, Mr. Harris learned of the finding of three partially decomposed bodies between Lee’s camp in Echo canon and the Lida C. [sic] borax mine, at the foot of a low hill on the north side of the Funeral range. The presence of the bodies was first reported at Ash Meadows by an Indian, who was attracted to the spot by a band of coyotes and a …

The Prospector

Shorty Harris, Death Valley

Shorty Harris

The prospector is one of the unique, one of the most exceptional and most worthy of all those remarkable characters who have exploited and led the way for the development of the west. The west owes him a debt of gratitude which the west can never pay. Always poor, often homeless, self-reliant, hopeful, generous and brave, he has been the solitary explorer of desert and mountain vastness. He is the one who unlocked from its imprisoned silence the countless millions of what is now the world’s wealth. He penetrates the most remote and inaccessible regions, defies hunger and storms alike, sleeps upon the mountain side or in improvised cabins, restlessly wanders and searches through weeks and months and years for nature’s hidden and hoarded treasures. Often-times his search ends in poverty and distress and failure, sometimes in success. Without the prospector – this poor isolated wanderer – the great mining centers of the west would not exist. Without his uneasy, never-tiring efforts, millions of dollars now on their way to minister to the happiness and comfort of the country would never have been poured into the channels of business and commerce.

(Excerpt taken from “100 Years of Real Living” by the Bishop Chamber of Commerce, 1961)

Prospectors & Miners

Shorty Harris