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April 2016 1 The Mohahve Historical Society invites you to come out and enjoy a presentation about one of the most historical areas associated with our own Victor Valley: the Cajon Pass. People coming in and out of Southern California have used this transportation corridor for centuries. Today, it plays an even more important role of supplying our local economy. So much runs through the pass including automobiles, trains, gas, and electricity. Although many people rush through the pass every day, not many know what was built in the pass, when events occurred or where they happened. BackRoadsWest.com authors Cliff & Ilene Bandringa will be speaking about how the Cajon Pass shaped up starting with the Brown Toll Road in 1861 and ending with the reconnecting of historic Route 66 in 2016. Their visual presentation will show places that you might be familiar with in the Cajon Pass and take you into the past to show how they looked back then. You will also be shown where and how places developed into what we all see today. Cliff has spoken to MHS previously on Death Valley. Cliff is the lead designer for "Virtual Tours West", a travel website. Cliff makes his living as a computer expert on logistics. His business takes him all over the US. Please join us on Thursday, April 28, 2016, at 7:00pm to hear their presentation! April 2016 2 President: Doug Shumway Vice President: Gary Kubik Treasurer: Lorena Gragg Recording Secretary: Fran Elgin Corresponding Secretary: Marcy Taylor Past President: John Marnell Directors: Mary Dutro Linda Chapman Jada Kaltenbach Newsletter: Stormie Reid Membership and Director at Large: Andrea M. Gutierrez You are welcome to share your newsletter with a friend and invite them to come to the next meeting with you! Next Meeting Date: April 28, 2016 Membership as of 4.1.16: ~ NEW MEMBERS ~ MARGIE SIMPSON CAROLYN VILLARS ~Renewals ~ GREGG & DANA BINGHAM Membership Questions: Contact Andrea by phone 961.2731 Or at the meeting Dues/Memberships are as follows: Dues/Memberships: Lifetime Single $150 Lifetime Family $200 ~ANNUAL~ ANNUAL Family/Couple $30 ANNUAL Single $20 April 2016 3 Our Speaker for March was Margie Simpson, who along with her husband was one of the former caretakers of the Big Bear dam. She told us of the duties they both had and some adventures with nature as well. Following the Pledge of Allegiance, we were treated to a flute solo of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” by junior MHS member, Dey’nelle Kaltenbach (13), who was commended by Margie Simpson for her touching performance of the National Anthem. April 2016 4 Do you have something you wish to contribute to the newsletter? Email it to Stormie: firstname.lastname@example.org Wow, another month gone and it is April already! This month I chose to write a bit about Oro Grande as April ninth and tenth are Oro Grande Days. This is their second year of honoring their town’s history. I wish I could attend, but I have to be at the museum both days, so maybe next year. There will be folks walking around in costume, which would be lovely to see, but me, being the History Geek that I am, would love to know the history of this fine town as well. So, I went to see Fran at the VVC Library Local History Room to explore the treasures in the archives. The town was originally known as Halleck, and was an Army trading post, a stagecoach stop, a ranching center, and it was headquarters for producing cement. This was truly an Old West Town with Saloons, pool halls, and a lawman who would shoot first and ask questions later. In 1862, Captain Lane located a trading post near the lower Narrows of the Mojave River, so as to take advantage of the fertile land, the Army made camp here and persuaded the trader to supply the Army with beef and other produced for the men stationed there at the forts. The ranch ended up becoming a hostel for those who stopped by on the stagecoach route from the Mojave to San Bernardino. This is the area known as the Spring Ranch, which is located on the Old Adelanto Road. There was a one-room Wells Fargo stage stop in a building constructed in adobe block. The depot was for the Panamint City and Fort Mojave routes, and was at the crossroads, which made this an important stop. There are mines located here, as the name Oro Grande implies, “Big Gold,” which is why the name of the town was changed. At one time there was a ten stamp mill on the hill, which is now the location of a cement company. In the 1880s, Oro Grande was in its heyday as a mining town. Oro Grande is located along Route 66, North of Victorville, and on the way to Barstow. It was still well traveled until the 1950s,when Interstate 15 bypassed the town instead of going through it. Once the mining began, they built homes and a post office. Later, the production turned to cement, limestone, and marble. Oh, and who could forget the Train Robbery April 20, 1898? Twenty-seven- year old Tolbert Jones and nineteen – year- old Clyde Bennington attempted to rob the mail and baggage cars as well as the passengers on board. There was a Wells Fargo safe in the express car they wanted as well. To read more of this fascinating story, please see Mohahve VI, pages 38-55, article by Larry L. Reese. Other information was taken from an article by Victorville Historian Jean Goldbrandsen, Oro Grande: Part of the Old West, found in the MHS archives and this week’s Kick’s Guide from the Daily Press. April 2016 5 From A to Z on the Desert or What’s in a Name? Article By John Marnell Place names in the desert range alphabetically from Abbott’s Well near Lucerne Valley to Zzyzx not far from Baker. The two unrelated places typify the wide range of attraction that the desert holds for many people – one place you have to search out and the other is just off the well- traveled I-15. Abbott’s does not show up in many records while Zzyzx is on most maps! Few have actually heard of the former while most of us are aware of the latter. Abbott’s holds little interest for the historian while Zzyzx (and its former name Soda Lake) has a long legend of traceable history. For this article, we will forget Abbott’s and focus briefly on Zzyzx, the end of the alphabet. Where do we go from here? I’m not especially into the archaeology of the region but suffice to say that there was some good work done at Soda Lake as early as the 1930s – and with the CSU Fullerton lead, desert research is on-going and much more will be learned. Early Native American culture here dates to maybe 10,000 years ago, after the Ice Age, and there are studies reflecting this research if that is your interest. Spanish interest began with Padre Francisco Garcés in 1776, trekking from the Colorado River to the mission at San Gabriel, led by Mojave Indians. Following that was another Spanish intrusion originating at the Santa Barbara Mission and going as far east as the Soda Lake area. Americans first saw the desolate and forbidding Soda Lake in the person of Jedediah Smith in 1826. Once again led from water source to water source by the Mojaves, he succeeded in reaching the coastal region. A year later on his second expedition, half of his companions were murdered by the same Mojaves. Military and civilian explorers visited Soda Springs, in fact, Lt. Williamson while on an 1853 railroad survey was the first to determine conclusively that the Mojave River indeed did not flow into the Colorado but turned north in times of flood, emptying into Silver Lake north of present day Baker. Lt. Amiel Whipple’s soldiers and civilians stopped near Soda Lake; in fact, one of Whipple’s scientists provided the first written account of the name Soda Lake. Water, Water – that is what make this place so important. There was water flowing at the base of a limestone hill creating a small source for Native Americans and future explorers and travelers. Never mind that it was unpleasant to the taste, caused some intestinal problems, and as a later traveler remarked, “made the vilest tea.” An army outpost was established there in 1860 initially called Hancock’s Redoubt. Soldiers were stationed there off and on for a number of years. Their duty was to curtail Indian attacks and to provide an escort the U.S. Mail. By the early 1870s, the Indian outrages had ceased for the most part and civilians took over the location, establishing a stage stop. In 1906, the Tonopah & Tidewater Railroad came right through the middle of the Soda Lake area. Other settlers tried making a go of it at Soda Lake with mining operations. Then after the early 20s, it was mostly quiet, that is until Curtis Howe Springer arrived on the scene in 1944 and dubbed the place Zzyzx. A name meant to be the last word in the English language. And it stuck. Pay a visit to the Desert Studies Center; much of its history is there for the visitor to see, and it is just five miles off the freeway - truly an oasis in our desert. Sources: Mojave Desert Dictionary, Pat Shoffstall (book is available at our meetings) Zzyzx: History of an Oasis, Anne Q. Duffield-Stoll April 2016 6 Sidewinder Mine Fallout Shelter When Victorville was incorporated as a city in 1962 there were only about 10,000 people living there. About that time it was discovered that the Russians were installing armed missiles in Cuba. Soon, many private citizens built defense shelters in their back yards, and some cities planned shelters in the basements of large buildings. The newly-formed city of Victorville decided to do something to protect the local citizens in case of fallout from a nuclear disaster. The location chosen was the abandoned Sidewinder Gold Mine, 17 miles northeast of Victorville. Hardware store owner Bill Melton was one of the leaders of the project, which had support from over 200 volunteers, who donated at least 24,000 hours of planning and labor between 1963 and 1968. Plenty of food, water, and medical supplies for a 20-bed portable hospital were provided by businesses, citizens, church groups, and youth clubs. The cement companies provided graders, bulldozers, generators and fuel. A communications system was installed by the telephone company. A runway for air transport was built close to the mine. By the time of the open house and dedication in 1966, the unique project (that some called "Operation Mole") was being publicized in newspapers throughout the country and on the evening news shows. Optimistic leaders reported that they could provide shelter for as many as 2,000 people in case of a disaster. Unfortunately, vandals also heard about the contents of the shelter. They managed to break down the doors, and over several invasions had stolen almost everything. By 1972, several fires had been set, and the severe damage made the shelter uninhabitable. Intrepid volunteers made an effort to salvage the project but finally gave up. Mr. Melton and others tried to find other possible shelters in the area, but it was difficult to recapture the enthusiasm and support they had enjoyed when everyone was pitching in for this community effort. This article is submitted by the Mohahve Historical Society. Our mission is to research, record, teach, and publish the history of the people and communities of the Mojave Desert Area. Visit us at www.mohahve.org. Visitors are welcome at our monthly meetings at the Victor Valley Museum. Call 760-961-9343 for more information. April 2016 7 April 28: Cliff Bandringa Topic: The Cajon Pass May 26: Doug Shumway Topic - Cushenbury Springs Field Trip: May 20 Cushenbury Springs, Blackhawk Mine. June 23: TBA July and August: No Meetings September 22: John Marnell Topic: TBA October 27: Norm Meeker – Geologist Topic: TBA November 17: Bob Barker Topic: Springs and Bighorn Sheep December: Date TBA Holiday Party at the Lone Wolf Colony April 2016 8 Mohahve History Society PO BOX 21 Victorville, CA 92393 The Mohahve Historical Society meets the fourth Thursday of the month at the Victor Valley Museum, located at 11873 Apple Valley Road, Apple Valley, CA 92308. Please visit our website: http://www.mohahve.org t was established there in 1860 initially called Hancock’s Redoubt. Soldiers were stationed there off and on for a number of