Example: (see below for links to lists applicable to this index map)
Wilderness Area #34 Bigelow Cholla Garden Wilderness
is located approximately within;
Subsection 322Am – Piute Valley – Sacramento Mountains
Apple Valley’s Dinosaur Park – by Myra McGinnis
If you drove north on Central Avenue in Apple Valley, about 3 miles from Highway 18, a strange sight might give you a moment surprise: a group of dinosaurs would appear on the horizon. This meant figures represent the work of Lonnie Coffman, a soft-spoken, wiry, energetic man, who, in the 1960s, began the building of his childhood fantasy a dinosaur park.
With his Midwestern family to board to provide recreational trips and entertainment, Coffman spent much of his childhood in the public library reading about prehistoric animals and dreaming of the park he would someday build for other children to enjoy. According to a former neighbor, Rose McHenry, he worked from dawn until dark every day on his hobby. He never charged the busloads of schoolchildren that visited the park, climbing over this meant replicas, and listening to the man, usually of few words, expound on the life of the dinosaur.
He had written to Washington to get the exact measurements of Noah’s Ark to add to his collection, when, after 12 years of personal funding, his savings ran out. Coffman appealed to the county for help to continue building his 17 1/2 acre park, but was turned down. He had no other recourse but to give up his dream. According to Mrs. McHenry, Lonnie Coffman left the area about 1982 a heartbroken man, leaving his concrete dinosaurs to the winds and sands of the desert.
Adapted from Mojave V – Mohahve Historical Society
Courtesy the Goble Collection – Valley-wide newspapers
The Pictorialist perspective was born in the late 1860s and held sway through the first decade of the 20th century. It approached the camera as a tool that, like the paintbrush and chisel, could be used to make an artistic statement. Thus photographs could have aesthetic value and be linked to the world of art expression.
Death Valley was having one of its periodic wind storms when the tourists drove up in front of Inferno store to have their gas tank filled.
Hard Rock Shorty was seated on the bench under the lean-to porch with his hat pulled down to his ears to keep it from blowing away.
“Have many of these wind storms?” one of the dudes asked.
“Shucks, man, this ain’t no wind storm. Jest a little breeze like we have nearly every day. You have to go up in Windy Pass in the Panamints to find out what a real wind is like.
“Three-four years ago I wuz up there doin’ some prospectin’. Got together a little pile o’ wood an’ finally got the coffee to boilin’. Then I set it on a rock to cool while I fried the eggs.
“About that time one of them blasts o’ wind come along and blowed the fire right out from under the fryin’ pan. Blowed ‘er away all in one heap so I kept after it tryin’ to keep that fryin’ pan over the fire to git my supper cooked.
“I usually like my eggs over easy, but by the time 1 got one side done I wuz all tired out so I let ‘er go at that. Had to walk four miles back to the coffee pot.”
from; Desert Magazine – December 1953
Once I asked Shorty Harris how he obtained his grubstakes. “Grubstakes,” he answered, “like gold, are where you find them. Once I was broke in Pioche, Nev., and couldn’t find a grubstake anywhere. Somebody told me that a woman on a ranch a few miles out wanted a man for a few days’ work. I hoofed it out under a broiling sun, but when I got there, the lady said she had no job. I reckon she saw my disappointment and when her cat came up and began to mew, she told me the cat had an even dozen kittens and she would give me a dollar if I would take ’em down the road and kill ’em.
“‘It’s a deal,’ I said. She got ’em in a sack and I started back to town. I intended to lug ’em a few miles away and turn ’em loose, because I haven’t got the heart to kill anything.
“A dozen kittens makes quite a load and I had to sit down pretty often to rest. A fellow in a two-horse wagon came along and offered me a ride. I picked up the sack and climbed in.
“‘Cats, eh?’ the fellow said. ‘They ought to bring a good price. I was in Colorado once. Rats and mice were taking the town. I had a cat. She would have a litter every three months. I had no trouble selling them cats for ten dollars apiece. Beat a gold mine.’
“There were plenty rats in Pioche and that sack of kittens went like hotcakes. One fellow didn’t have any money and offered me a goat. I knew a fellow who wanted a goat. He lived on the same lot as I did. Name was Pete Swain.
“Pete was all lit up when I offered him the goat for fifty dollars. He peeled the money off his roll and took the goat into his shack. A few days later Pete came to his door and called me over and shoved a fifty dollar note into my hands. ‘I just wanted you to see what that goat’s doing,’ he said.
“I looked inside. The goat was pulling the cork out of a bottle of liquor with his teeth.
“‘That goat’s drunk as a boiled owl,’ Pete said. ‘If I ever needed any proof that there’s something in this idea of the transmigration of souls, that goat gives it. He’s Jimmy, my old sidekick, who, I figgered was dead and buried.’
“‘Now listen,’ I said. ‘Do you mean to tell me you actually believe that goat is your old pal, whom you drank with and played with and saw buried with your own eyes, right up there on the hill?’
“‘Exactly,’ Pete shouted, and he peeled off another fifty and gave it to me. So, you see, a grubstake, like gold, is where you find it.”
Loafing Along Death Valley Trails
A Personal Narrative of People and Places
Author: William Caruthers
Thou shalt love the DESERT, but not lose patience with those who say it’s bleak and ornery (even when the wind is blowing).
Thou shalt speak of the DESERT with great reverence, and lie about it with great showmanship, adding zest to Tall Tales and Legends.
Thou shalt not admit other DESERTS have more color than the one on which you have staked your claim.
Thou shalt on the Sabbath look to the Mountain Peaks so’s to know better your whereabouts, so’s you can help others to know the DESERT, dotting on the map the places where you have camped.
Honor the Pioneers, Explorers and the Desert Rats who found and marked the water holes . . . they tell you about the next water hole and try to help you.
Thou shalt not shoot the Antelope-Chipmunk, Kangaroo Rat or other harmless Desert friends. (Keep your shot for a snake.)
Thou shalt not adulterate the water holes nor leave the campsite messed up. Be sure to take 10 gallons of water with you. Don’t have to ask the other fellow on the road for a quart, but be able to help the tenderfoot by giving him some water.
Thou shalt not steal (from the prospector’s shack), nor forget to fill the wood box and water pail.
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor; you know the mining laws; you know the whereabouts of his monuments.
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s sleeping bag, his gun, nor the contents of his canteen.
~ The End ~
In 1861 the county of San Bernardino contracted with John Brown to build a toll road through the Cajon Pass from Devore to Cajon Summit. That would do fine to get wagons and freight between San Bernardino and the Mojave Desert. At the same time the county also approved a subscription road to be built by Jed Van Dusen from near the summit through the mountains so equipment and supplies could be freighted to the mines in Holcomb Valley.
History in the Making
Mountain Road Cost Miners $2,000 in Gold
Back in the early 1860s the gold rich but food poor miners of Holcomb Valley decided the number one need for their mountain metropolis was a road. in typical pioneer fashion instead of looking to San Bernardino, Sacramento or Washington these miners resolved to build the road.
At the time supplies for Holcomb Valley were brought up by way of a packed train trail up Santa Ana Canyon from the San Bernardino Valley and thence to Holcomb Valley by trails threading either Polique or Van Dusen Canyons. these trails served for burros, mules or horses but the only way to get a wagon to the gold mines was to take it apart and load its pieces on pack animals.
Toll Road up Cajon
The Holcomb Valley mines were reputedly among the richest in California. Free gold, as the placers were known, was becoming hard to obtain in quantities up in the worked over streams of the Mother Lode and accordingly thousands of footloose miners poured into Holcomb Valley making an increasingly heavy strain on the thin supply line.
Down in San Bernardino John Brown Sr. a resourceful Rocky Mountain man, who was one of the leaders in the settlement both during and subsequent to the Mormon regime, had an experienced eye for trade routes. Brown was probably one of the first to vision San Bernardino as a trade center due to its central location and proximity of favorable mountain gateways.
Brown saw that San Bernardino could obtain an even better share of overland travel with better roads. Accordingly he planned to make the Cajon Pass gateway the preferable way east. He applied to the Board of Supervisors and was granted a toll road franchise. His road utilized the East Cajon route which he improved so it could accommodate wagons. Then Brown went farther and started a ferry over the Colorado River at Fort Mohave.
Builder Paid $2,000
The Brown Road diverted Holcomb Valley traffic away from the Santa Ana trail. A new trail was blazed down Holcomb Creek, Willow Creek and Arrastre Creek to reach the Mojave Desert floor in the vicinity of Deadman Point. From Deadman Point it was an easy open path to Brown’s road.
Miners and supply men who used the new trail saw that it could be widened to accommodate wagons. The usual method of making a road would have been for the Holcomb Valley miners to turn out with their picks and shovels, but that meant leaving their claims just when water was high enough for gold washing. Accordingly a person of $2,000 in gold dust was raised and Jed Van Dusen, the camp blacksmith, was hired to build the road. He did just that. Van Dusen was a resourceful fellow. He had assembled a wagon from parts brought up to Holcomb Valley by pack train. In between running his smithy he had some good claims he worked in the canyon that has been given his name. Van Dusen’s chief claim to fame, however, was neither his skill as a road builder, blacksmith or miner. it rested on the fact he was father of a very pretty little girl named Belle.
When the miners cast about for a name for their town in Holcomb Valley they found W. F. (Billy) Holcomb reluctant to have it named for him. Then someone had an idea. Why not name the camp for Jed Van Dusen’s little girl? So Belleville became the name of the big roaring mining camp that had almost as many residents as the rest of the county.
For a dozen years or so the Van Dusen built road carried the heaviest traffic in the county. The travel to the mines, of course, was a great help to the Brown tollway. Heavy machinery needed for quartz mining was hauled over the road as gold veined ledges were discovered. The latter included two of the most famous gold mines San Bernardino County history, E. J. (Lucky) Baldwin’s Gold Hill property and Richard Garvey’s Greenlead.
During Civil War days the Van Dusen – built road carried a strange assortment of passengers and cargo. Liquors for Greek George’s notorious saloons and dance halls, staple goods, the inevitable blasting powder and large bullion shipments. Strangest of all travelers, however, was a ragged troop of filibusters recruited in Visalia who called themselves Confederate calvarymen and commanded by Mariposa County’s stormy Assemblyman Dan Showalter. Showalter and his motley horsemen were trying to reach southern lines in Texas but a few weeks later ran into California volunteers near Warner’s Ranch and were taken prisoner.
This was the same Showalter who had recently slain San Bernardino County’s Assemblyman Charles Piercy in a duel at San Rafael. The duel was fought with rifles at 40 paces. First shots of both antagonists went wild and Showalter allegedly jumped the gun and shot the second time at the count of two, killing Piercy. Showalter was a fugitive when he was in Holcomb Valley but secessionist sentiment plus that of roughs who wanted no government at all served to protect the fact it was San Bernardino County’s legislator he had slain.
The roughs around Belleville ran things with a high hand, at least until Greek George fell mortally wounded from the knife of ” Charlie the Chink” in the drunken aftermath of a Fourth of July celebration. In a reminiscent account written 35 years later Billy Holcomb told of that fatal July 4 and of George’s killing three men before his fatal combat with the celestial.
It was members of George’s gang, left more or less leaderless, who held up an outgoing stagecoach and relieved the Wells Fargo messenger of $60,000. It was the disgusted miners, anxious to drive out the roughs, who pursued the highway men and killed them all. The last bandit was slain a bit too quick for he died while trying to tell where the $60,000 was hidden. As far as is known it has never been found, a sizable cache of gold bars that has lured treasure seekers unsuccessfully for something like 90 years.
Baldwin Garvey Feud
The Van Dusen Road carried the ballot boxes in the weird election when Belleville tried to become county seat, and probably succeeded in polling a countrywide majority but lost on the official count by the “accident” of a Belleville precinct’s box being lost in a bonfire down in San Bernardino.
After the richer placer deposits had been worked Belleville and upstream Beardstown dwindled in size. The emphasis’s one to hard rock mining which required less men more capital and tools. In the hard rock field the giant was Baldwin, who at one time was running a 100- stamp mill at Gold Hill and the operation was supporting a good-sized town, the town of Doble.
Next in size to Baldwin’s operation were those of Garvey. Garvey had owned Gold Hill at one time and reportedly sold it to Baldwin for $200,000. The Garvey family always contended that Baldwin took a bill of sale for the mine but neglected to pay the Irish-born Garvey all the promised money. Garvey trusted his supposed friend.
Garvey held onto the Greenlead, which is almost at the side of the Van Dusen Road in lower Holcomb Valley. When hard times depressed Los Angeles real estate Garvey found he owed $300,000 on the land no longer worth the amount of the mortgages. Three shifts worked the Greenlead and Garvey paid all but $90,000 of the $300,000 debt. The family held onto the Greenlead. It had been leased, sold and worked from time to time. The new owner from Sherman Oaks was on the property a year ago with plans for reopening the long tunnels where there is still said to be quantities of ore rich enough to pay for mining even under current costs.
Long Cattle Drives
In the wake of the minors cattlemen moved into the San Bernardino Mountains. The old road to Holcomb Valley saw huge drives in both spring and fall as cattle were moved from desert ranges to the mountains and back again.
When the first dam was built at Bear Valley in the 1880s A. E. Taylor hauled supplies over the old road, then completed and used the road up Cushenbury direct to Bear Valley. Advent of the Cushenbury gateway, now Highway 18, and the later Mill Creek and crest routes serve to diminish the importance of the old route but it was not closed.
Halfway down to the desert, at the well-known landmark of Coxey’s Ranch, the Forest Service had one of its early ranger stations. It was one of the picturesque log cabin structures typical of such stations 40 years ago. A search for the station earlier this summer disclosed that he had reverted to the status of a guard station and that two or three years ago it was burned when a gasoline lantern or stove exploded. The old corral remains Coxey’s. Today’s guards campout and have telephone service.
The old road is a popular one with Forest visitors who like to get away from the pavement and camp out. There are public grounds at Horse Springs, Big Pine Flats, and that Hannah Flats. Numerous Springs make the route a well watered one that it is no place for a pavement driver with a low center car.
L. Burr Belden
San Bernardino Sun-Telegram September 6, 1959
To the uninitiated there is something rather uncertain about the reasons why a person will take time to view a location or an artifact. Ask the visitor why they make the trek or handle an object. The response may take the form of a smile, and perhaps the timeworn cliché ” because it was there.” That smile in phrase only does partial justice in explaining personal gratification.
Why should we visit sites where history of any magnitude happened? Perhaps it is because a fresh vista creates a more objective insight in pursuit of historical knowledge. Personal enjoyment and related benefits require one to approach a subject with a receptive and determined mindset.
In stories about stagecoaches and freight wagons we may be entertained or learn about animals, load, dust, storm, good, evil, driver, passenger, comedy, sadness and so forth – a whole range of emotions. a writer may have captured our imagination in words, but obtaining a complete and satisfying grasp of the event is a personal quest.
Often our inquisitiveness may provide answers only by standing on the spot, embracing the environment, and getting the feeling of how it may have been back when. Imagine sound, smell of man, equipment noise in animals doing the work. Anticipate the next riser dip the road and how it must have affected progress. Consider the impact on those traveling in good, bad, or indifferent weather. Envision people, dress, available tools, and reasons for passing this way. Think of small but important details, such as animal harness, conveyancing station construction. Perhaps the preceding thoughts may help create for you a new perspective and enjoyment of history.
Indian Wells Valley Stage and Freight Stops
1874 – 1906
Comments and Directions by Lou Pracchia
Historical Society of the Upper Mojave Desert
The Walters family is an important part of Hesperia history. Starting with George Francis Walters, who moved his family from Illinois to California because his wife, Harriet C Finigan Walters had asthma.
The family first settled in the Riverside area where he went to work for the Santa Fe Railroad. According to Bolton Minister, son of George O Walters Minister, George was offered a transfer to Hesperia to manage the Hesperia Hotel.
The Walters family consisted of George and his wife Harriet, and their children, in birth order, Georgia Henry had to Walters Minister-Henry, Verial W. Walters Ormond and Roy Edward Walters.
According to Mr. Minister, both the daughters went to work in the hotel. They were later joined by Laura McClanahan who in 1921 transferred from the Goodsprings Hotel, in Goodsprings, Nevada.
Verial was postmistress, until she moved away when she got married, and then her position was given to her brother Roy.
Roy ended up marrying Laura McClanahan and having a daughter, Geraldine Henrietta Walters. Geraldine married first, Yeager and second Schwartz.
According to Mr. Minister, George Francis Walters built the Walters house in the Walters general store according to Geraldine, her grandmother Harriet was the midwife in the delivery of 32 Hesperia babies.
When George passed away the store was handled over to Roy, who operated it for many years.
I do not know where George and area Walters or Barry. However, I do know that Roy and Laura are buried at the cemetery in Victorville.
With the passing of time, their store had deteriorated and will eventually disappear from Hesperia. As eventually, the Walters name will.
Then and Now
by Mary Ann Creason Dolan Rhode
The most famous lost mine in the Death Valley area is the Lost Breyfogle. There are many versions of the legend, but all agree that somewhere in the bowels of those rugged mountains is a colossal mass of gold, which Jacob Breyfogle found and lost.
Jacob Breyfogle was a prospector who roamed the country around Pioche and Austin, Nevada, with infrequent excursions into the Death Valley area. He traveled alone.
Indian George, Hungry Bill, and Panamint Tom saw Breyfogle several times in the country around Stovepipe Wells, but they could never trace him to his claim. When followed, George said, Breyfogle would step off the trail and completely disappear. Once George told me about trailing him into the Funeral Range. He pointed to the bare mountain. “Him there, me see. Pretty quick—” He paused, puckered his lips. “Whoop—no see.”
Breyfogle left a crude map of his course. All lost mines must have a map. Conspicuous on this map are the Death Valley Buttes which are landmarks. Because he was seen so much here, it was assumed that his operations were in the low foothills. I have seen a rough copy of this map made from the original in possession of “Wildrose” Frank Kennedy’s squaw, Lizzie.
Breyfogle presumably coming from his mine, was accosted near Stovepipe Wells by Panamint Tom, Hungry Bill, and a young buck related to them, known as Johnny. Hungry Bill, from habit, begged for food. Breyfogle refused, explaining that he had but a morsel and several hard days’ journey before him. On his burro he had a small sack of ore. When Breyfogle left, Hungry Bill said, “Him no good.”
Incited by Hungry Bill and possible loot, the Indians followed Breyfogle for three or four days across the range. Hungry Bill stopped en route, sent the younger Indians ahead. At Stump Springs east of Shoshone, Breyfogle was eating his dinner when the Indians sneaked out of the brush and scalped him, took what they wished of his possessions and left him for dead.
Ash Meadows Charlie, a chief of the Indians in that area confided to Herman Jones that he had witnessed this assault. This happened on the Yundt Ranch, or as it is better known, the Manse Ranch. Yundt and Aaron Winters accidentally came upon Breyfogle unconscious on the ground. The scalp wound was fly-blown. They had a mule team and light wagon and hurried to San Bernardino with the wounded man. The ore, a chocolate quartz, was thrown into the wagon.
Breyfogle recovered, but thereafter was regarded as slightly “off.” He returned to Austin, Nevada, and the story followed.
Wildrose (Frank) Kennedy, an experienced mining man obtained a copy of Breyfogle’s map and combed the country around the buttes in an effort to locate the mine. Kennedy had the aid of the Indians and was able to obtain, through his squaw Lizzie, such information as Indians had about the going and coming of the elusive Breyfogle.
“Some believe the ore came from around Daylight Springs,” Shorty said, “but old Lizzie’s map had no mark to indicate Daylight Springs. But it does show the buttes and the only buttes in Death Valley are those above Stovepipe Wells.
“Kennedy interested Henry E. Findley, an old time Colorado sheriff and Clarence Nyman, for years a prospector for Coleman and Smith (the Pacific Borax Company). They induced Mat Cullen, a rich Salt Lake mining man, to leave his business and come out. They made three trips into the valley, looking for that gold. It’s there somewhere.”
At Austin, Breyfogle was outfitted several times to relocate the property, but when he reached the lower elevation of the valley, he seemed to suffer some aberration which would end the trip. His last grubstaker was not so considerate. He told Breyfogle that if he didn’t find the mine promptly he’d make a sieve of him and was about to do it when a companion named Atchison intervened and saved his life. Shortly afterward, Breyfogle died from the old wound.
Indian George, repeating a story told him by Panamint Tom, once told me that Tom had traced Breyfogle to the mine and after Breyfogle’s death went back and secured some of the ore. Tom guarded his secret. He covered the opening with stone and leaving, walked backwards, obliterating his tracks with a greasewood brush. Later when Tom returned prepared to get the gold he found that a cloudburst had filled the canyon with boulders, gravel and silt, removing every landmark and Breyfogle’s mine was lost again.
“Some day maybe,” George said, “big rain come and wash um out.”
Among the freighters of the early days was John Delameter who believed the Breyfogle was in the lower Panamint. Delameter operated a 20 mule team freighting service between Daggett and points in both Death Valley and Panamint Valley. He told me that he found Breyfogle down in the road about twenty-eight miles south of Ballarat with a wound in his leg. Breyfogle had come into the Panamint from Pioche, Nevada, and said he had been attacked by Indians, his horses stolen, while working on his claim which he located merely with a gesture toward the mountains.
Subsequently Delameter made several vain efforts to locate the property, but like most lost mines it continues to be lost. But for years it was good bait for a grubstake and served both the convincing liar and the honest prospector.
Nearly all old timers had a version of the Lost Breyfogle differing in details but all agreeing on the chocolate quartz and its richness.
That Breyfogle really lost a valuable mine there can be little doubt, but since he is authentically traced from the northern end of Death Valley to the southern, and since the chocolate quartz is found in many places of that area, one who cares to look for it must cover a large territory.
From: Chapter XXII
Lost Mines. The Breyfogle and Others
Loafing Along Death Valley Trails by William Caruthers