History

  • Ghosts & Gold
  • Mojave Trail
    Mojave Trail Monument at Las Flores Ranch This secluded valley once bore primitive traffic and knew the lithe tread of native feet. The ancient Indian trail from the Colorado River to the coast led up the Mojave River into the mountains and climbed Sawpit Canyon to the summit of the range. The Piute Indians, using this trail, ...
  • The Fault Route
    Click the map to view a larger image It seems that people have made use of the San Andreas Fault long before automobile or even wagon roads were developed along its seam. Shown is a 1901 U.S.G.S. map where I have traced the route leading from near Blue Cut in the Cajon Pass, just about straight ...
  • Cerro Gordo
    Cerro Gordo The “fat hill” produced silver, lead, and zinc for a century. At its peak, over 1,000 people lived here working in mines as the San Felipe and Union. At the time the smelters were the best there were. Silver was roasted and formed into bullion, sent down the Yellow Grade road by mule ...
  • By-Passing Barstow
    Bits from an interesting 1961 article about by-passing downtown Barstow and modernizing transportation infrastructure at the geographical descendant of ‘Forks-in-the-Road‘ of pioneering times. Speaks to the morphology of the transportation corridor from the classic Route 66 to the modern Interstate 15 Freeway. Also, see Sidewinder Road for maps between Victorville and Barstow. On July 5, ...
  • Historic Victor Valley Wagon Roads
    Primary regional road network — USGS 1901 Not all-inclusive, this 1901 map shows basic transportation routes between the Cajon Summit on the west and east from there through either the San Bernardino Mountains or Lucerne Valley to where the two roads meet in the Big Bear Valley. This map below was made in 1883 and shows an ...
  • The Northers
    Then there were the “Northers,” which the heavy winds that swept down the Cajon Pass from the Mohave desert were called. They were much more severe then and sometimes very cold, blowing for about three days at a time. Many people treated them as they would rainy weather, and by way of derision, they were ...
  • Agua Mansa
    Traders in the caravans coming to California did not just trade with those at the missions, but with any group or community they came across. The little settlement of Agua Mansa enjoyed the benefit of being the first village of any size once the mule trains dropped in from the mountains after crossing the deserts. Agua ...
  • Lost on the Trail – Ellen Baley
    During this phase of the journey the wagon train was doing much of its traveling at night, owing to the great daytime heat of the desert and the long distances between water holes. At regular intervals during the night they would stop for a short rest. At one of these rest stops, eleven-year-old Ellen Baley, ...
  • Lake Adelaide
    by Walter Feller A small dam was erected to raise the water level up against a gate to a flume that could be opened letting water from Deep Creek flow into a stone-walled channel. This channel ran along a carefully continuous slope to a headwater, into a pipeline across the Mojave River, then on to an ...
  • Technology Advancements in Wells
    from; A Quick History of Water Wells by Hanna Landis Until the early 19th century, water wells were still dug by hand. In 1808 in the United States, mechanical drilling was invented by the Ruffner Brothers. The Ruffner Brothers successfully first used mechanical drilling in Charleston, West Virginia to access water and salt at Great Buffalo Lick. This ...
  • Undesert
    “It is often said that America has no real deserts. This is true in the sense that there are no regions such as are found in Asia and Africa where one can travel a hundred miles at a stretch and scarcely see a sign of vegetation—nothing but barren gravel, graceful, wavy sand dunes, hard, wind-swept ...
  • Millie
    Georgia Walters – circa 1917 Millie was undeniably beautiful. She was quite clever also. She developed a system wherein she could chop wood without lifting a finger. Living at the post office and only store for miles around, she became quite astute at knowing when the cowboys and other such young men would be coming ...
  • Massacre – Murders and Mayhem
    from; The Captivity of the Oatman Girls — Chap. II “Though the sun had hid its glittering, dazzling face from us behind a tall peak in the distance, yet its rays lingered upon the summits that stretched away between us and the moon, and daylight was full upon us. Our hasty meal had been served. My ...
  • Cajon Pass Trails — Notes
    Originally, possibly a footpath for trade and society. There is no written record of that. After explorers, and then trade caravans wore in mule trails and braided paths as travelers do, to find the path of least resistance. Following the Mojave River, and to get to the hills and valleys of southern California ...
  • A Lonely Ride
    by Bret Harte – Francis Brett Hart, known as Bret Harte (August 25, 1836 – May 5, 1902), was an American short story writer and poet, best remembered for his short fiction featuring miners, gamblers, and other romantic figures of the California Gold Rush. I stood with my shawl and carpetbag in hand, gazing doubtingly on ...
  • Steam Locomotives in the Cajon Pass
  • Enrico Caruso Island
    This is Lake Tuendae (to be beheld) at the Desert Studies Center, Zzyzx. In the center of the lake is an island with a fountain. The name of the island in Enrico Caruso Island. Enrico Caruso Island is named Enrico Caruso Island in honor of Enrico Caruso but not Enrico Caruso the famous singer but ...
  • The Prophet and a Vision
    John Brown senior was prolific in early San Bernardino County history. He was a man of many careers; sailor, soldier, frontiersman, store owner, road builder, and community leader. John Brown was also a Spiritualist and wrote a book about his experiences titled ‘Medium of the Rockies.’ John Brown had a Spirit Guide who would come to ...
  • Death Valley in 1926
    About this Collection The Death Valley Automobile Trip photograph album containing 76 prints appears to be the record of a sightseeing trip made from Los Angeles to Death Valley in 1926. A written record–in the form of diary entries–is also included and consists of a series of detailed captions describing the landscape, landmarks, and individuals encountered ...
  • About Mr. Cushenbury
    “As miners and ranchers moved into the area looking for wealth, the foothills quickly filled. The first of these documented miners was a man named John Cushenbury. In the 1860s he discovered silver and limestone near the spring, and thus began the rush of miners and “get-rich-quick” dreamers. However, like most get rich quick dreams ...
  • Wagonero!
    Sport Utility Vehicle of the 19th Century
  • Fort Piute 1925
    Small mining operation ruins at abandoned Fort Piute in 1925Jenny Reynolds collection
  • Broken Leg
    Somewhat behind the scenes . . . Death Valley A gentleman named Bill had a hankering to wander about the desert. He had been told the way to really see the desert was to walk through it. He liked the idea and drove as far as Death Valley to start a good distance from all humanity ...
  • This Tragic Struggle
    What histories of tragic struggle with fortune and of defeat there are written in California! How many young men, for whom still fond hearts of sisters or mothers beat lovingly in vain, have fought the battle of life here unsuccesfully, and have died, as men know how to die, in solitude without a murmur or ...
  • Backroads
    SR 173 (decommissioned) When the air has a bit of a chill and the days are short it feels good to spend time idling down a back road in that golden light with no intended time of arrival, anywhere. Roads & Trails:https://digital-desert.com/road-trail/
  • Cajon Pass Wagon Road Divide
    Road traces just below the Cajon Summit Just east of the Cajon Summit is where the historic traffic corridor in and out of the Mojave Desert narrows and the various alignments come within hollering distance of each other as they cross over the divide between the high desert and Cajon Canyon. Traces and fragments of footpaths, ...
  • Macadam
    In 1873 Scottish inventor John Loudon McAdam created an inexpensive type of paving that used rocks and gravel, was put down while it was soft and cured as it was driven on. Stretch of macadam pavement on old road to and from the summit John Loudon McAdam and Macadam Merriam-Webster: In 1783, inventor John Loudon McAdam returned to his ...
  • Egg Business
    Bill owned a chicken ranch out in the great wide-open desert. He was called to go to the big city to do some business and would be gone for several weeks. He asked his friend, Buck, to watch his chicken ranch while he was gone. Buck accepted and each and every day he fed the ...
  • Walkah
    From: Edward Fitzgerald Beale, a Pioneer in the Path of Empire, 1822-1903 Walkara Walkara and his brother Arapeen The water of Little Salt Lake is as briny, we were told, like that of Great Salt Lake, and we noticed that its shores were covered with saline incrustations for a mile or more from the water’s edge; but the ...