Mathilde “Ma” Preston: Queen of the Desert

Cafes and rooming houses in Daggett sprang up. These were used as meeting places for business, as well as entertainment. One of the more popular joints was known as “Ma Preston’s”…

Let’s face it. Most of us would rather be exploring somewhere in
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“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…

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