A Trip Through Time: The Mojave Desert Then and Now, Part II

Welcome to the second installment in our continuing series: A Trip Through Time: The Mojave Desert Then and Now. 

Ladies and gentlemen, Captain John has turned on the Fasten Seatbelt sign.  We hope you enjoy your flight on Desert Way Airlines as we return to the magical, majestic and oftentimes mysterious past of the Mojave Desert. It’s a short flight, so don’t expect candied peanuts.

We’ve added a few surprises along the way to keep you entertained and informed. Buckle up, buttercup. It’s going to be a heck of a ride. 

Hesperia School House.  Earliest photo courtesy: San Bernardino County Museum, Apple Valley, California. Composite video by John Earl.

Hesperia School House, located on Main Street near C Avenue, is the oldest building in Hesperia, California. Hesperia’s first school house was erected in 1883.

The earliest photo, taken in 1890, shows Pioneer Hall, the building which served as the original schoolhouse. The building still stands.

Photo courtesy: Mojave River Valley Museum, Barstow, California.

Former Canadian, Frank D. Ryerse, purchased the George Miller General Store in 1907. In 1908 it fell victim to a fire. Ryerse rebuilt and made it fireproof. The store is the first cement structure built in Daggett.

The store was later sold to Frank’s cousin and business partner, Homer Ryerse. It was robbed by safe crackers of $1600 dollars of gold dust in 1953. The crime went unsolved. To learn more about Daggett, please read our previous article here: https://www.thedesertway.com/daggett-ca/

Desert Market, Daggett, CA, 2016. 

The whimsical storefront sign with its classic hanging letter “T” has recently been replaced. The store was situated in a row of buildings that originally included The Daggett Hotel & Restaurant, People’s General Store, and the two story Stone Hotel, built circa 1875. The Desert Market is the only building still in operation.

 “Stagecoach.” Composite video by John Earl.

In 1938, possibly the best known cowboy action scene from the movie “Stagecoach,” was filmed in Lucerne Valley, California. We went exploring and after comparing movie stills and mountain ridges, we located the exact same spot.

Daggett Train Station.  Earliest photo courtesy: Mojave River Valley Museum, Barstow, California. Composite video by John Earl.

In 1903, the San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad (later owned by the Union Pacific Railroad) built their line from Las Vegas through Daggett on its line to Los Angeles and East San Pedro. 

Additionally, Daggett had two narrow gauge railroads (not pictured), both built to export silver and borax ore out of the Calico Mountains several miles north until they were moved to greener pastures 30 miles from Los Angeles following a colemanite discovery. 

In the background, notice the one-story Stone Hotel and Fout’s Garage, to the right. Turn up your volume to hear the whistle of a genuine steam locomotive!

Buzzard Rock. Earliest photo courtesy: Mojave River Valley Museum, Barstow, California.

Over the years, Barstow has changed many times. Buzzard Rock, located on First Street across the street from the Harvey House, remains virtually the same. The Harvey House, Western Train Museum and Route 66 Museum are located within view.

Tom Reed Mill.  Photo Courtesy: Eastern California Museum, Independence, California

In 1863, mountain man and prospector Johnny Moss discovered gold in the Black Mountains and staked several claims, one named the Moss, after himself, and another after Olive Oatman, whose story was by then well-known.

Gold was re-discovered north of Oatman AZ in 1901 at Goldroad and this led to the construction of better roads both west (to Kingman) and east (to Needles and Topock CA). 

Tom Reed Mine Photo courtesy: Google Earth

The ruins of Tom Reed Mine on Route 66, present day. Just as the Vivian mine was about to close, Tom Reed discovered another vein in 1910 and the United Eastern Mining Co. struck gold again in 1915. They were the largest gold mines in the US at that time, and population reached 10,000 during that period.

Rainbow Bridge.  Earliest photo courtesy: Route 66 Museum, Victorville, California. Composite video by John Earl.

More than 100 years of getting across the Mojave River between Victorville and Apple Valley in just a few seconds. For more details, please read our previous article here: https://www.thedesertway.com/mojave-narrows/

UH-1 “Huey.” Composite video by John Earl.

The recent #HolcombFire battle in Big Bear, California, inspired us to create another installment of “A Trip Through Time: Then and Now with yours truly series. Here, a UH-1 “Huey” from the 25th Infantry Division in Vietnam, suddenly becomes a venerable fire fighting tool of Cal Fire. These aircraft have been flying and fighting for more than fifty years.

Ladies and gentlemen, as we start our descent back into reality, please make sure your seat backs and tray tables are in their full upright position. Make sure your seat belt is securely fastened and all carry-on luggage is stowed underneath the seat in front of you or in the overhead bins. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

On behalf of The Desert Way Airlines and the entire crew of two, I’d like to thank you for joining us on this trip and we are looking forward to seeing you on board again in the near future.

For more exciting information and historic photos in your seat back pocket, please read part one of A Trip Through Time: The Mojave Desert Then and Now.

There will be a quiz in the morning.

Buh-bye! Buh-bye!

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One thought on “A Trip Through Time: The Mojave Desert Then and Now, Part II

  1. Love the pictures and it’s a good read. Thank you for providing these for us….

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