Ludlow Cemetery: Eternity Near the Tracks

Like so many pioneer towns in the Mojave Desert established by necessity for its connection to the railroads, Ludlow Cemetery is serenaded by the rumble of frequent trains.

The cemetery appears to have approximately 50 visible graves. All but three are marked by wooden crosses with no information. Only seven grave sites have been identified.

Ludlow was founded in 1882, brought about by the establishment of the Southern Pacific Railroad until May 4, 1897 when it became the Santa Fe Railway.

This was the main line and connection with Los Angeles…

Harper Dry Lake bed in the Mojave Desert was the site of secret flight test programs conducted by the Hughes & Northrop aircraft companies during the 1940s, including the first flight by an American rocket-propelled aircraft. Howard Hughes tested aircraft and built a hangar here. Years later, it was decided Harper Dry Lake was the best place to launch the space shuttle’s heir apparent, the Lockheed Martin Venture Star.

Harper Dry Lake Marsh, near the tiny community of Lockhart, California, is practically a stone’s throw away from the world’s second largest solar farm facilities.

Despite environmental challenges, peaceful Harper Dry Lake Marsh remains an enduring host to a wide variety of migratory waterfowl…

The Mojave Desert wears a coat of many colors. Both majestic and mysterious, Rainbow Basin is notable for miles of fantastical and beautiful shapes of rock formations, its fossil beds and geologic wonders.

Don’t expect a Skittles rainbow though. You will enjoy its varied palette of natural hues but it’s subtle and changes throughout the day with shadows.

Surprises await just off the beaten path. Park your vehicle to the side of the road and go for a walkabout. Hiking Owl Canyon offers many discoveries, such as lava tubes, dry water falls and…

Welcome to our second installment in our continuing series.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Captain has turned on the Fasten Seat Belt sign.

We hope you enjoy your flight with us as we return to the magical, majestic and oftentimes mysterious past.

We’ve added a few surprises along the way. It’s a short flight so don’t expect candied peanuts.

Buckle up, buttercup. It’s going to be a heck of a ride…

Remember, while exploring remote parts of the desert, the true test of character is doing the right thing, even if nobody else is watching.

Rustic cemeteries dot the outskirts of Old West ghost towns where the early inhabitants lay in eternal rest. We thank you for being mindful and respectful of the departed. Their lives touched many and in retrospect added to the complex tapestry of history known as the Mojave Desert.

Modern unsung heroes continue to pay homage to their legacies…

Driving along Pearblossom Highway (Hwy 138), it’s just you and maybe a few hundred cars and trucks passing by in both directions. Perhaps lost in thought, or just concentrating on surviving the drive, you look ahead and the roadway becomes a beacon to place unknown to most people, even though they may pass it every day. You’re approaching the ruins. Soon, you will know what others don’t. The history of a failed dream. Welcome to the Socialist community of Llano Del Rio…

John Cushenbury aimed to hit it big, and looking back, he did. A prospector and miner in 1860, Cushenbury discovered silver in the limestone deposit where Mitsubishi Cement Plant is now situated. Hopefully the next silver baron in California, Cushenbury set up a mining camp at the springs below his deposit. When word got out about the discovery the local desert came alive with dreams of grandeur that prospecting brings. Little did he imagine that someday his strike would result in a mega-million dollar kingdom of cement…

“There ain’t no sin and there ain’t no virtue. There’s just stuff people do.”

—John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

Perhaps no dusty desert town from the 19th Century exemplified Steinbeck’s quote better than Daggett, California. Shootouts, saloons, hangings and frontier justice, the old town had it all, and so much more…

Sandwiched between Old Route 66 and Interstate 40, Daggett Pioneer Cemetery goes virtually unnoticed by passerby’s. There is a distinct sense of peace among the weathered tombstones and grave markers found here. Even 20 years after my initial visit, it still is a palpable feeling and it remains one of our favorite historic cemeteries…

Originally, this path was an ancient Native American trade route that eventually led to the Pacific Ocean. In 1776, a Spanish Franciscan Friar, Francisco Garcés, traveled the same trail as he explored the desert on behalf of the Pope and the Spanish crown. By the time of the Civil War, the trail had evolved into what we now know as the Mojave Road…

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