Chronology of Events

The 1785 Land Ordinance provided that all federal land would be surveyed into townships six miles square. Townships are subdivided into 36 one-mile-square sections. Sections can be further subdivided into quarter sections, quarter-quarter sections, or irregular government lots. Each township is identified with a township and range designation. Township designations indicate the location north or south of the baseline, and range designations indicate east or west of the Principal Meridian. A meridian is an imaginary line running north to south.

1861 Central Pacific Railroad is incorporated.

1862 President Abraham Lincoln signed the Pacific Railway Act, a law that authorizes the federal government to give land grants and loans to aid construction of the Central Pacific Railroad as the Western part of the Transcontinental Railroad and the Union Pacific as the Eastern part.

1863 Central Pacific begins construction at Sacramento.

1864 The United States Congress passes the Pacific Railway Act of 1864, which doubles the land grant to 20 alternate sections per mile, with a 20 mile checkerboard corridor on each side of the right-of-way.

1865 The Southern Pacific Railroad Company is incorporated.

1865 Central Pacific Railroad establishes a Land Department in Sacramento. Benjamin B. Redding, former mayor of Sacramento, was chosen to lead to design and manage the new organization.

1866 The Pacific Railway Act is amended to allow a railroad to select lands outside of the land grant area in exchange for unavailable land grant land.

1866 The federal government gives Southern Pacific Railroad a land grant to complete the western section of the Atlantic & Pacific line through California via Mojave to Needles.

1867 First land patent is issued to the Central Pacific Railroad by the federal government.

1868 September 25: The Central Pacific Railway owners acquire control of the Southern Pacific Railroad.

1869 The California & Oregon Railroad receives a federal land grant to build a line northward from Davis to connect to the Oregon & California Railroad at the California and Oregon border.

1869 The Central Pacific Railroad begins operating the California & Oregon Railroad.

1869 The Golden Spike ceremony held at Promontory, Utah, marks the completion of the transcontinental railroad between Sacramento, California and Omaha, Nebraska.

1870 California & Oregon Railroad is consolidated with the Central Pacific Railroad, and becomes a branch line of the Central Pacific Railroad.

1871 The federal government gives the Southern Pacific Railroad land grants and loans, allowing it to build to meet the Texas & Pacific at Yuma, California and build from Los Angeles to Colton, California.

1875 The Southern Pacific Railroad opens a land agency in San Francisco. 1876 Jerome Madden, Benjamin Redding’s assistant, became the land agent for Southern Pacific.

1886 Southern Pacific Company assumes control of the Oregon & California Railroad.

1899 The Central Pacific Railroad is reorganized as the Central Pacific Railway in order to pay off its federal debt.

1912 The Southern Pacific Company transfers some of its remaining land assets to Southern Pacific Land Company.

1916 Oregon & California grant lands are returned to the Federal Government.

1927 Southern Pacific purchases the Oregon & California Railroad.

1984 The Southern Pacific Company merges with Santa Fe Industries, parent company of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway, to form Santa Fe Southern Pacific Corporation (SPSF).

1985 The Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) denies permission for the railroad operations to merge.

1986 Appeal of the ICC ruling fails.

1986 The renamed holding company, the Santa Fe Pacific Corporation, retains all of the non-rail interests of both companies except one. All of the Southern Pacific Railroad California real estate holdings are transferred to a new holding company, Catellus Development Corporation.

1996 The Southern Pacific Railroad is acquired by Union Pacific Railroad and its operations cease.

2005 Catellus Development Corporation is merged into ProLogis, another land development company based in San Francisco. ProLogis remains one of the largest real estate holders in California.

California State Railroad Museum Library and Archives

Intermodal Freight Transport


Barstow, California. Intermodal freight transport involves the transportation of cargo in an intermodal container or vehicle, using multiple modes of transportation (e.g., rail, ship, and truck) without any handling of the freight itself when changing modes. This system reduces cargo handling, improves security, reduces damage and loss, and allows freight to be transported faster.

Barstow is a significant hub in the intermodal network due to its strategic location along major freight rail lines and highways. It facilitates the transfer of goods between different transportation modes, playing a critical role in the logistics and distribution chain, especially between major ports and inland destinations across the United States.

The history of the Barstow Intermodal facility is closely tied to the development of transportation infrastructure in the Barstow area, which has long been a key junction point for major rail and road routes.

  1. Railway History: Barstow’s role as a transportation hub began with the railroad. The area became a key railway center in the late 19th and early 20th centuries with the arrival of the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway (now part of the BNSF Railway). This established Barstow as a critical point in the transcontinental rail network, facilitating the movement of goods across the country.
  2. Intermodal Development: The concept of intermodal transport—moving goods in the same container or vehicle by multiple forms of transportation—gained popularity in the mid-20th century. Barstow’s strategic location made it a natural choice for developing intermodal facilities. The Barstow Intermodal facility allows for efficient transfer of containers between trains and trucks, optimizing the transport of goods to and from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and across the wider United States.
  3. Economic Impact: Over the years, the intermodal facility has played a significant role in the economic development of Barstow and the surrounding region. It has created jobs, spurred the growth of logistics and support industries, and contributed to the local economy by facilitating efficient and cost-effective transportation of goods.
  4. Expansion and Modernization: The facility has continuously expanded to accommodate the growing demand for intermodal transport. Technology, infrastructure, and equipment investments have enhanced its capacity and efficiency, allowing it to handle larger freight volumes and adapt to changing transportation needs.

The history of Barstow Intermodal reflects the broader trends in transportation and logistics, showcasing the evolution from rail-centric freight movement to integrated, multimodal transport systems that support the dynamic flow of goods in a globalized economy.

Victor Valley Developers

Who was Penn Philips, Hesperia, Ca.

Penn Phillips

Penn Phillips was a real estate developer known for his work in various parts of the United States, including Hesperia, California. Born M. Penn Phillips, he was a prominent figure in the mid-20th century, recognized for developing planned communities. In Hesperia, he was instrumental in transforming the area from a rural community into a more developed suburban area. Phillips was known for his aggressive marketing strategies and development projects that often included building infrastructure and amenities to attract residents and investors to the areas he developed. His impact on Hesperia and other towns he developed is still evident today in the layout and infrastructure of these communities.

What other towns was Penn Phillips involved with developing?

Penn Phillips developed several towns across the United States, particularly in the 1950s and 1960s. Some of the notable towns and communities he developed include:

  1. California City, California: Perhaps his most ambitious project, California City, was intended to be one of the largest cities in California, with Phillips investing heavily in infrastructure and marketing to attract residents and businesses.
  2. Coos Bay, Oregon: Phillips was known for his development work in the Coos Bay area, significantly impacting the local economy and landscape.
  3. Boron, California: Similar to his work in other towns, Phillips aimed to transform Boron into a thriving community through extensive development projects.
  4. Salton City, California: On the shore of the Salton Sea, Phillips attempted to develop Salton City as a resort community, capitalizing on its unique location and potential for tourism.

Phillips’ approach to development often involved buying large tracts of land, creating basic infrastructure, and then promoting the areas aggressively to attract residents and businesses. His legacy is mixed, with some of his projects turning into successful communities, while others, like California City and Salton City, did not fully realize the grand visions he had planned.

Was Phillips and Mendelsohn together in California City?

Yes, Penn Phillips and Nathan Mendelsohn were indeed associated with the development of California City, California. While Penn Phillips was a prominent real estate developer known for his work in various communities, Nathan Mendelsohn, a sociology professor turned developer, was the main force behind California City’s development.

Mendelsohn purchased the land and envisioned a new city that would become a significant community in the Mojave Desert. He planned and developed the infrastructure, plotting streets and laying out residential, commercial, and industrial areas to attract residents and businesses. Penn Phillips, known for his development projects in other areas, was also involved in the real estate development aspect of California City. However, Mendelsohn was the primary developer and driving force behind the city’s creation and initial development.

Nat Mendelsohn

Their collaboration in the development of California City was part of the larger trend of ambitious planned communities in post-war America, where developers sought to create new cities and communities from scratch in undeveloped areas.

Was Phillips a con man?

Penn Phillips had a reputation that some considered controversial, and some accounts label him as a con man, particularly in his real estate dealings. He was known for his aggressive and sometimes deceptive marketing strategies. Phillips would often sell land in undeveloped areas, promising potential buyers that these would become thriving communities with various amenities and infrastructure. However, in some cases, the promised development and amenities were not fully realized, leaving buyers with worthless plots of land.

For example, in his development projects, Phillips was known to sell plots of land through high-pressure sales tactics, often exaggerating the potential for growth and development. Buyers sometimes found themselves owning land in remote areas with little to no development, far from the bustling communities they were led to expect.

While Phillips was undoubtedly a successful developer in some respects, creating legitimate and thriving communities, his methods and the outcomes of some of his projects led to a mixed legacy. The perception of him as a con man stems from these practices, where the reality did not always meet the expectations he set for his investors and buyers.

Did Newton Bass in Apple Valley ever work with Penn Phillips?

Newton Bass and Penn Phillips were prominent real estate developers in California’s high desert region. Still, they are generally associated with different communities, and no well-documented collaboration exists between them. Newton Bass was one of the key figures in the development of Apple Valley, California, while Penn Phillips was known for his work in places like Hesperia and California City.

Newt Bass at Hilltop House

Both men were active during the mid-20th century and were instrumental in the development of the Mojave Desert area, but they operated largely independently of each other. Bass, alongside his partner Bud Westlund, developed Apple Valley into a thriving community, promoting it as an ideal place to live with a focus on quality of life and community amenities.

While both Bass and Phillips had similar careers in developing new communities in California’s desert regions, there is no significant historical record of them working together on a development project. Their approaches to development and the communities they built were distinct, reflecting their individual visions for high desert living.

Were there any other city developers in the Mojave Desert at the time?

Besides Penn Phillips and Newton Bass, other developers were active in the Mojave Desert area during the mid-20th century. These developers also played significant roles in shaping the region’s landscape and communities:

  1. Bud Westlund: Partnered with Newton Bass in developing Apple Valley; Westlund was instrumental in promoting and building the community alongside Bass. They worked together to create a desirable living environment that attracted residents and businesses to the area.
  2. Ray Ryan: Involved in developing Indio, California, and other areas in the Coachella Valley, Ryan was a notable figure in the real estate and oil industries. His contributions to the region’s development were significant, although controversy and connections to organized crime also marked his career.
  3. Mervyn Dymally: While more known for his political career, Dymally was involved in various development projects in the Mojave Desert region, particularly in the Antelope Valley area. His work in real estate and politics intersected as he contributed to the growth and development of the area.
  4. George Alexander and H.L. Waliser: They were involved in developing Victorville and the surrounding areas. Their efforts helped shape the growth and structure of these communities in the high desert.

These developers, among others, contributed to transforming the Mojave Desert from a sparsely populated area into a region with growing towns and communities. Each brought their unique approach to development, impacting the economic and social landscape of the desert region.

Antelope Valley Developers

In the Lancaster and Palmdale areas of the Mojave Desert, several developers played significant roles in shaping the growth and development of these communities. Some of the notable figures include:

  1. M. Leroy Gilleland: Gilleland was an early developer in Palmdale, playing a crucial role in its development during the mid-20th century. He was instrumental in promoting the area and attracting residents and businesses.
  2. Tom Carrell: Along with his partner, Carrell was a significant figure in the development of Lancaster. They were responsible for much of the residential and commercial development in the area, contributing to Lancaster’s growth and structure.
  3. Jack Kyser: Kyser was a key player in the economic development of the Antelope Valley, including Lancaster and Palmdale. His efforts in regional planning and economic development helped shape the future of these cities.
  4. Fritz Huntsinger: Involved in industrial and commercial development in Palmdale, Huntsinger played a vital role in the city’s economic growth, contributing to its status as an important industrial and aerospace hub.

These developers, among others, were pivotal in transforming Lancaster and Palmdale into the significant urban centers they are today in the Antelope Valley region. Their contributions included residential, commercial, industrial, and aerospace developments, reflecting the diverse economic base of the area.

The Mormon Battalion

The Mormon Battalion was a unique military unit in American history, formed during the Mexican-American War in 1846. It consisted of about 500 Latter-day Saints (Mormons) volunteers. This battalion was the only religiously based unit in United States military history and was recruited to help the U.S. secure new territories in the American West.

The battalion was mustered in at Council Bluffs, Iowa, and marched nearly 2,000 miles to San Diego, California, one of the longest military marches in history. The journey helped to open new wagon routes in the West and was instrumental in the settlement and development of the region. The battalion never engaged in battle but faced hardships like disease, lack of provisions, and challenging terrain.

The Mormon Battalion is significant for its military contribution and impact on the westward expansion and settlement of the United States, particularly in Utah and California. Its members helped to establish communities and build infrastructure in the West after their military service ended.

After their discharge in 1847, members of the Mormon Battalion played a significant role in the history of the Mojave Desert and the broader American West. Their journey and subsequent activities helped to establish and improve trails across the desert, facilitating the movement of people and goods.

Some of the discharged members of the Mormon Battalion, along with other Mormons, were instrumental in developing the Southern Route, also known as the Mormon Road, through the Mojave Desert. This route later became critical for settlers moving to California, especially during the Gold Rush. They improved the trail, making it more passable for wagons, and established supply stations along the way, vital for the survival of travelers crossing the harsh desert environment.

Additionally, these battalion members engaged in early exploratory and settlement activities. They were among the first U.S. citizens to extensively travel through and document the Mojave Desert region. Their efforts contributed to the mapping of the area and provided valuable information about resources and potential settlement sites.

Their work in the Mojave Desert facilitated westward expansion and laid the groundwork for future economic development in the region, including mining, agriculture, and transportation. Through their endeavors, the discharged members of the Mormon Battalion left a lasting legacy in the development of the American Southwest.

Curtis Howe Springer

The Man Who Made Zzyzx

THE JOURNAL OF THE American Medical Association
VOLUME 105, No. 11, CHICAGO, ILL. SEPTEMBER 14, 1935

Curtis Howe Springer first came to the attention of the Bureau of Investigation through a display advertisement published in the Davenport (Iowa) Times on Oct. 2, 1929. This carried a picture of Springer, who was described as “Dean of Greer College.” The advertisement read in part as follows:

“Money For You. Develop Your Powers. Be Healthy, Happy, Successful. A series of Free Lectures Is offered to the public under the auspices of the Extension Department of Greer College.

“Thousands have paid to hear these lectures, but you can hear them free, through the courtesy of the Davenport Psychology Class.

President Hoover said the complete abolition of poverty is now a possibility for us. ;

Analyze Yourself. Know Your Hidden Powers.

In August 1930, the Scranton (Pa.) Better Business Bureau wrote that Springer had been giving a course of “lectures” at the local Y. M. C. A., which he is said to have claimed were presented through the courtesy of the “Extension Department of the National Academy.” What this Academy is or was, if, which seems doubtful, it ever has been, we have been unable to learn. Neither have we been able to learn anything about the “Springer School of Humanism” that was also mentioned. The Better Business Bureau reported further that Springer’s “lectures” were entitled “How to Banish Disease and Know the Joy of Living.” Springer was said not to have charged any admission but to have taken up a collection and also to have sold so-called private courses in psychoanalysis at $25 a course.

Bureau stated further that a local woman who had contracted and paid for a “course” charged Springer with obtaining money under pretenses. When the case came up for a trial, the woman is said to have testified that for the money paid, Springer had agreed to give her twelve “readings” or “sittings,” two a week for six weeks, but that at the end of two weeks, Springer left the city and she received no further notice from him. The Scranton Better Business Bureau reported that prosecution was dropped when Springer refunded the woman’s money.

In December 1930 Springer put out what purported to be the first issue of a magazine entitled “Symposium Creative Psychologic,” a name that is as meaningless as some of the titles that Springer has annexed. This sheet was devoted mainly to advertising Springer and his activities, especially his “Doc. Springer Temple of Health.” In it Springer published an “explanation” of why he had had to cease broadcasting over WBRE.

At this point it may be interpolated that investigation seems to show that: Springer came originally from Birmingham, Ala., where his record, not being of a medical or quasi-medical character, need not be gone into at this time; he left there to come to Chicago; he organized the “Temple of Health” in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.; he sold “Springer’s Health Bread” at Johnstown, Pa.; he exploited a similar scheme in Cumberland, Md.; he made payments on some land at Mount Davis, near Salisbury, Pa. with the idea of starting a “health resort”; he incorporated Basic Foods, Inc., with an authorized capital of fifty shares, of which Springer and another man were said to held one share each and Springer’s wife to hold the other fortyeight shares; he published in not-too-particular papers alleged health columns with his picture accompanying the reading matter.

During the past few years Curtis Howe Springer, in advertising himself, has placed after his name the letters “M.D., N.D., D.O., Ph.D.,” sometimes with the statement beneath the “degrees” that they were “Honorarily conferred.” A most thorough search fails to show that Springer was ever graduated by any reputable college or university, medical or otherwise. In May 1933 a physician in Cumberland, Md., wrote to the Bureau of Investigation, stating that when Springer had appeared in his locality the local state’s attorney demanded that Springer produce a certificate showing that he had the right to use the title M.D. This, of course, Springer was unable to do. Then, according to our correspondent, Springer was charged with practicing medicine without a license, but, being at liberty without bail, he left Cumberland and could not be apprehended for trial. Later it was reported that he was broadcasting at Philadelphia and still later at Pittsburgh,

SPRINGER COMES TO CHICAGO In the latter part of December 1933 the broadcasting station WGN, operated by the Chicago Tribune, called up the Bureay of Investigation of the American Medical Association and asked for, and received, such information as was then available on Curtis Howe Springer. It appeared that Springer wanted to buy time on the air over WGN, but the contract he offered was rejected. A few days later (Jan. 4, 1934) Springer himself, with the effrontery of his kind, came to the headquarters of the American Medical Association and asked to see the Director of the Bureau of Investigation. He told the Director that he had called to correct what he described as certain misconceptions that the Bureau of Investigation was said to have regarding him.

Springer was asked where he had obtained and by what right he used the degree M.D. He stated that the degree had been bestowed by one Frederick W. Collins, a chiropractor of New Jersey, who runs the egregious “First National University of Naturopathy” and apparently several other high-sounding institutions of dubious educational character. Needless to say, the Collins outfit is not a recognized medical college. It has no scientific standing and, of course, has no legal authority whatever to grant the degree of Doctor of Medicine. Springer further admitted during the interview that his alleged degrees were granted without attendance and upon the payment of either $200 or $300 (he said he could not remember which) and the answering of certain questions !

Springer was told that interviews were unsatisfactory, as they left the problems discussed a matter of recollection on the part of two individuals. For that reason he was requested to send the Bureau of Investigation a letter setting forth the various facts regarding himself and correcting any alleged inaccuracies of which the Bureau of Investigation had been accused. At the time, Springer stated that he would go right hack to his hotel (one of the most expensive in Chicago) and write such a letter.

Within five minutes of the termination of the interview the Director of the Bureau of Investigation wrote a letter to Springer at his address in the hotel in Chicago, setting forth exactly the claims that he had just made. He was asked to confirm by letter his verbal claim that he had paid $200 or $300 for his M.D. “degree” granted by chiropractor Collins, who had no right to grant such a degree; he was asked from what institutions and on what dates he had received his “degrees” of N.D., D.O. and Ph.D.; he was asked whether the Greer College, of which he had been advertised as Dean, was the same concern that had been the subject of a cease and desist order from the Federal Trade Commission; he was asked, also, to furnish, as he had promised verbally, written evidence to indicate that he had some knowledge of nutrition and dietetics, and he was also asked to send any information he cared to regarding “Doc. Springer’s Temple of Health” at Wilkes-Barre, Pa. Needless to say, Springer was much too shrewd to fulfil his verbal promise to write a letter or to put in black and white answers to any of the questions that were put to him.

Although unsuccessful in buying time on the air over WGN, it was not long before Springer was broadcasting twice daily over WCFL, another radio station operating in the Chicago area. In this connection, we cannot do better than quote from the Chicago Better Business Bureau’s report on Springer’s Chicago radio activities :

“These talks were along sensational lines, tending to vilify those who disagreed with the New Deal and President Roosevelt’s program. Appeals for money for his activities were made and, according to information received, many sent him funds. In the early summer of 1934 Springer brought out a newspaper called the New Deal, which was labeled ‘Official Organ of Legion of Honor.’ The style ‘Legion of Honor’ was another creation of Springer’s, the stated purpose of which was to federate honest, patriotic and loyal merchants into an organization known as ‘Federation of New Dealers’ that will afford the opportunity to enlighten the working man, the forgotten man, and others seeking truth. Springer likewise carried on attacks against business establishments in Chicago, charging them with exploiting the public. Soon complaints started to come to the Better Business Bureau and a number of warrants were taken out for Springer in Chicago, charging him with slander, etc.”

About the middle of July 1934 Springer is said to have come to the office of the Chicago Better Business Bureau for the purpose of giving information regarding certain complaints which existed against him. While he was there, he was asked some questions by the officials of the Better Business Bureau Quoting again from that Bureau’s report:

“When asked about his qualifications as a medical doctor, Springer said that he took his degree of M.D. from the American College of Doctors and Surgeons in Washington, D. C. [There is no such institution—Ed.] He took his degree of osteopathy at Meyersdale, Pa. where he maintained a residence. [There never has been an osteopathic college there—Ed.] He states that he attended the Westlake West Virginia College for one year. [There is no such college and never has been.—Ed.], and -further, that he took his degree of Ph.D. from a New Jersey school of osteopathy. When it was called to his attention that a school of osteopathy did not confer such a degree as Ph.D., Springer did not answer the question.

Re-Hib, an anti-acid product, and the so-called Basic Food. Springer met the various complaints against him with counter-charges designed to discredit the complaints. About the middle of July he ceased broadcasting on radio station WCEL, following which complaints were received from business establishments alleging unsatisfied obligations left by Springer.”

One incidental point, as showing Springer’s character, is worth bringing out. While Springer was broadcasting in Chicago over radio station WCFL, he was defaming certain Chicago stores which were picketed because of strikes. At the same time Springer was staying at one of the most expensive hotels in Chicago which was also, both at that time and later, the subject of picketing!

CURTIS HOWE SPRINGER M. D., N. D., D. O., Ph. D. Honorarily Conferred

Formerly Dean of Greer College; Founder of the Springer Schools of Humanism; Honorary President of the National Academy

Photographic reproduction of the title page of a Springer booklet advertising his “patent medicine,”’ Antediluvian Tea, a mixture of chopped-up herbs. .

Since Springer wore out his welcome in Chicago, he has apparently been lying comparatively low—at least, the number of inquiries that have come in regarding him has been few. One did come in in April 1935 from the Philadelphia County Medical Society, which telegraphed the Bureau of Investigation of the American Medical Association, stating that a Philadelphia radio station was requesting advice on Springer’s Re-Hib and Antediluvian Tea. The Philadelphia County Medical Society was told that Springer was not a physician and that the Bureau of Investigation considered him a blatant faker, that his Re-Hib was apparently mainly baking soda, while the Antediluvian Tea was evidently nothing more than a crude mixture of laxative herbs. The Bureau was later advised by the Philadelphia County Medical Society that the radio station had refused Springer’s contract for broadcasting.

Summed up, it may be said that Springer is but one more example of what to the thoughtful citizen must appear as one of the most dangerous social phenomena of American city life: The person with an ignorance of the human body and its processes that is wide and deep, who by virtue of an unblushing effrontery combined with a flair for garrulity dupes an ignorant public. Loquacious fakers, faddists and quacks have for some years past made an easy living by their wits through the facility with which they could hire halls and announce so-called free lectures on subjects on which the ignorance of the audience was only exceeded by that of the speaker. The advent of the radio has multiplied the opportunities for dispensing misinformation at the public’s expense.

THE JOURNAL OF THE American Medical Association
VOLUME 105, No. 11 535 North Dearborn Street, CHICAGO, ILL. SEPTEMBER 14, 1935

The conflict between Dr. Curtis Howe Springer and the American Medical Association (AMA) underscores a significant moment in the history of medical regulation and public awareness regarding health fraud. Springer, who was not a medically trained doctor, operated under the guise of one, promoting various health remedies, treatments, and establishments that had little to no scientific backing. His operations, most notably the Zzyzx Mineral Springs and Health Resort in the Mojave Desert, attracted attention for their bold claims about the curative powers of natural remedies and treatments offered. The AMA’s denouncement of Springer as the “King of Quacks” in 1969 was a part of its broader mission to protect public health from fraudulent medical practices.

Micheal White

Miguel Blanco

Villains with the Blackest Hearts

An experience of Michael White (Miguel Blanco) on the Old Spanish Trail to San Bernardino, California.

We stopped a day or two on a lake called the San José (now known as the Beggars’), and I told my partner to take care of the horses, as I wanted to ride around and take a look at the country. Riding round I heard firing a little ahead of me. Hurrying on, I discovered that our New Mexicans had surrounded a rancheria of Piutes. I saw one little Indian boy, about 12 years old, with his arm nearly shot off, just hanging by the skin a little below the shoulder. I began to scold the New Mexicans and called them a pack of damned brutes and cowards, and they were so.

There was one old Indian, standing with his bow and arrow. They wanted to take and kill him, but were afraid to approach near enough to come within reach of his arrow. I went up to the Indian and asked him for his bow and arrows—they had solemnly promised me not to hurt him if I succeeded in disarming him. The Indian handed them to me and I shall never forgive myself for having taken the word of those villains, for villains they were, of the blackest kind. As soon as they saw the Indian without arms they came near and riddled him with bullets.

I parted with them and went by myself. This was a considerable distance from our camp. I found another rancheria in a thicket of willows. An Indian came out and by sign asked me if I had come to fight. I said no; then he asked me if I was hungry, and answering in the affirmative, he invited me to alight, and partake of what he had, which was atole [a drink], made of the seed of hogweed, and barbecued trout of the most delicious—as you may suppose, considering I had had nothing to eat in nearly 24 hours. Whilst I was eating up came the confounded New Mexicans, and the Indians ran to conceal themselves in the brush. All but two succeeded in escaping—those two unfortunate Piutes were taken by the Mexicans, tied, and shot in cold blood. I begged, entreated, threatened, and did all I could to have their lives spared but all my efforts were unavailing. When they were about to shoot the Indians, I was so indignant that I raised my gun, aimed at one of the gang, and pulled the trigger, and it wouldn’t fall, though I pulled it with all my force. 10 or 12 guns were pointed at me, but they didn’t fire, as my gun had not gone off—they said this was what saved me. The rascal’s name was Tomás Salazar. I assured them that I would never again travel with such a set of brutes. They answered, “ Que! no es pecado matar esos indios gentiles.” [Oh, well. It’s no sin to kill those pagan Indians.]

My partner in the camp wanted me to keep quiet, because the New Mexicans were exasperated against me and would put me to death if I said more. From that time I had no rest at night. I was apprehensive of being murdered.

California all the way back to 1828. By Michael C.
White. Written by Thomas Savage for the Bancroft
Library, 1877


What would it have been like to live on the edge of the desert wilderness between 1850 and 1870?

Life in the Barstow, Daggett, and Calico area between 1850 and 1870 would have been characterized by the challenges and opportunities of frontier living and the influence of the California Gold Rush.

During this period, the area was an important outpost along the Mojave Road, a major trade route connecting southern California with the rest of the Southwest. Barstow, Daggett, and Calico towns would have seen a steady stream of pioneers, settlers, and traders passing through, seeking respite, supplies, and companionship on their journeys.

Life in the area would have been challenging, as settlers and travelers had to contend with harsh desert conditions, extreme temperatures, and limited resources. The towns would have offered essential services such as food, water, lodging, and blacksmithing, providing a lifeline for those passing through the unforgiving landscape.

The California Gold Rush of the late 1840s and 1850s also impacted the area, as prospectors and miners flocked to California for their fortunes. The discovery of gold and other minerals in the region brought settlers and entrepreneurs to the area, leading to mining camps and boomtowns.

Life in the mining camps and towns would have been marked by hard work, uncertainty, and camaraderie as people came together to build communities and seek their fortunes in the California desert. The mining industry played a central role in shaping the area’s economy and society, with miners facing dangerous working conditions and fluctuations in the market for minerals.

Overall, life in the Barstow, Daggett, and Calico area between 1850 and 1870 would have been characterized by the challenges and opportunities of frontier living. The towns served as vital outposts, providing essential services and support to pioneers and settlers seeking a better life in the American West.

1871 – 1900

The introduction of the railroad to the Barstow, Daggett, and Calico area between 1871 and 1900 would have significantly impacted the region’s life and economy.

The railroad would have facilitated the transportation of goods, materials, and people to and from the mining towns, making it easier to access the area and transport resources in and out. This would have boosted the local economy and helped the mining industry thrive by providing a more efficient means of transportation for the minerals extracted from the mines.

The railroad also brought an influx of new settlers and businesses to the area, further contributing to the growth and development of the towns. The increased connectivity provided by the railroad would have helped the communities in the area become more integrated with the rest of the region and the broader economy.

Life in the mining towns between 1871 and 1900, with the presence of the railroad, would have been marked by increased economic activity, improved infrastructure, and enhanced opportunities for trade and commerce. The towns would have become more connected to the outside world, allowing for exchanging goods, services, and ideas.

The railroad would have also influenced social life in the towns, bringing new cultural influences and experiences to the area. The increased mobility provided by the railroad would have allowed for more interaction between the residents of the mining towns and the wider world, enhancing the diversity and vibrancy of the communities.

Overall, the introduction of the railroad to the Barstow, Daggett, and Calico area between 1871 and 1900 would have been a transformative event, shaping the region’s economy, society, and culture and contributing to the growth and prosperity of the mining towns during this period.

1901 – 1926

Life in the Barstow, Daggett, and Calico areas between 1901 and 1926 would have been influenced by the region’s continued growth and development, as well as by significant historical events and social changes during that time.

  1. Railroad Expansion: The early 20th century saw further expansion of the railroad network in the area, with the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway playing a prominent role. The railroads continued to be a driving force in the local economy, facilitating the transportation of goods, people, and resources to and from the towns.
  2. Mining Industry: The mining industry remained a significant part of the economy during this period, with Calico continuing to produce silver, borax, and other minerals. The town experienced periods of boom and bust as the demand for minerals fluctuated, shaping the livelihoods of the residents in the area.
  3. Cultural and Social Changes: The early 20th century brought about changes in cultural and social norms, with new technologies, entertainment, and modes of transportation becoming more prevalent in the region. The towns would have been influenced by trends in popular culture and the influx of new residents and visitors to the area.
  4. World War I: The impact of World War I would have been felt in the Barstow, Daggett, and Calico areas, with residents likely affected by the war effort, rationing, and economic changes resulting from the conflict. The mining industry may have seen shifts in production and demand during this time.
  5. Prohibition and the Roaring Twenties: The period also saw the implementation of Prohibition in the United States, which may have had varying effects on the towns depending on their adherence to the ban on alcohol. The Roaring Twenties brought about changes in social customs, fashion, and entertainment that would have been reflected in the area’s communities.

Overall, life in the Barstow, Daggett, and Calico areas between 1901 and 1926 would have been a dynamic mix of economic, social, and cultural changes shaped by the continued growth of the region, historical events, and the evolving lifestyles of the people living in the American Southwest during this time.

1927 – 1940

Significant changes in transportation, economic conditions, and social dynamics shaped life in the Barstow, Daggett, and Calico areas between 1926 and 1940. The introduction of the National Old Trails Highway and later Route 66, followed by the onset of the Great Depression, would have had a profound impact on the communities in the region.

  1. Route 66 and Transportation: Establishing Route 66 as a major east-west highway in 1926 would have brought increased traffic, travelers, and commerce through the towns of Barstow, Daggett, and Calico. The highway served as a vital link between the Midwest and the West Coast, providing economic opportunities for businesses along its route.
  2. Impact of the Great Depression: The onset of the Great Depression in 1929 would have brought economic hardship to the area’s residents. The collapse of the economy, widespread unemployment, and financial instability would have affected the towns’ businesses, workers, and families, leading to struggles to make ends meet and maintain their livelihoods.
  3. Mining Industry and Agriculture: The mining industry in Calico and surrounding areas may have been impacted by the economic downturn, with fluctuations in demand for minerals and challenges in maintaining profitability. Agriculture in the region may have also faced challenges due to the Depression, affecting local farmers and growers.
  4. Migration and Transient Population: The economic conditions of the Great Depression may have led to an influx of migrants, transient populations, and “Okies” traveling along Route 66 in search of work and opportunities. The towns along the highway would have seen more transient populations passing through, seeking respite and resources.
  5. Community Support and Resilience: Despite the era’s challenges, the communities in Barstow, Daggett, and Calico would have likely come together to support one another, with local organizations, churches, and charities assisting those in need. Resilience, resourcefulness, and a sense of community would have been key in navigating the difficulties of the Great Depression.

Overall, life in the Barstow, Daggett, and Calico area between 1926 and 1940 would have been characterized by the transformative impact of Route 66, the challenges of the Great Depression, and the resilience of the communities in the face of economic hardship and uncertainty. The towns would have been part of a shifting landscape shaped by changes in transportation, economy, and society during this time period.

1941 – 1970

Life in the Barstow area between 1941 and 1970 would have been marked by significant historical events, economic changes, and social transformations that influenced the development and character of the region during this period. Here are some key aspects of life in the Barstow area between 1941 and 1970:

  1. World War II and Military Presence: The outbreak of World War II in 1941 would have profoundly impacted the Barstow area, as the town’s strategic location and proximity to military installations made it a hub for military activity. The nearby Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow and the National Training Center at Fort Irwin would have brought a significant military presence to the region, influencing the local economy and community.
  2. Industrial Development: The post-war period saw the growth of industrial development in the region, driven in part by the construction of highways, such as Interstate 15 and Interstate 40, that passed through the Barstow area. The expansion of transportation infrastructure, including railroads and highways, facilitated the movement of goods and people through the region, contributing to economic growth.
  3. Population Growth and Urbanization: The period between 1941 and 1970 would have witnessed population growth and urbanization in the Barstow area as more people moved to the region searching for employment opportunities, particularly in the military, transportation, and logistics sectors. The town of Barstow would have experienced changes in its demographics and urban landscape during this time.
  4. Cultural and Social Changes: The post-war period brought about cultural and social changes in the Barstow area, influenced by trends in popular culture, music, and entertainment. The town would have been impacted by shifts in societal norms, technological advancements, and changing attitudes toward race and gender.
  5. Civil Rights Movement and Social Activism: The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s would have resonated in the Barstow area as communities grappled with racial inequality, discrimination, and social justice issues. Residents may have participated in civil rights activism, protests, and movements for equality and justice during this period.
  6. Environmental Concerns: The growth of industrial activity and infrastructure in the Barstow area would have raised ecological concerns related to pollution, resource depletion, and land use. In response to these challenges, residents may have become more aware of the need for environmental conservation and sustainability.

Overall, life in the Barstow area between 1941 and 1970 would have been shaped by wartime mobilization, industrial development, population growth, cultural changes, social activism, and environmental considerations. The region would have been part of a dynamic landscape undergoing transformation and evolution in response to historical events and societal shifts during this time.

1971 – 2000

Living in the Barstow area from 1971 to 2000 would have been characterized by continued growth, industry changes, demographic shifts, and evolving social dynamics. Here are some critical aspects of life in the Barstow area during this period:

  1. Military Influence: The presence of military bases, such as the Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow and the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, would have continued to shape the economy and community of the Barstow area. Military personnel and their families would have been a significant part of the population, contributing to the local economy and culture.
  2. Transportation Hub: Barstow’s strategic location at the intersection of major highways, including Interstate 15 and Interstate 40, would have solidified its role as a transportation hub. The town would have continued to serve as a stop for travelers, truckers, and tourists passing through the area on their way to Southern California destinations.
  3. Industrial and Economic Development: From 1971 to 2000, the Barstow area would have seen further industrial and economic development. The expansion of logistics, transportation, and distribution industries would have created job opportunities and attracted businesses to the region, contributing to local economic growth.
  4. Tourism and Hospitality: Barstow would have become a popular stopping point for tourists visiting attractions such as the Calico Ghost Town, the Mother Road Museum, and Route 66 landmarks. The hospitality industry, including hotels, restaurants, and retail shops, would have flourished to cater to visitors passing through the area.
  5. Environmental Awareness and Conservation: The Barstow area may have experienced increasing awareness of environmental issues and a growing emphasis on conservation and sustainability during the 1971 to 2000 period. Efforts to protect natural resources, preserve desert ecosystems, and promote responsible land use would have become more prominent in the community.
  6. Cultural Diversity and Community Life: The demographic makeup of the Barstow area would have continued to diversify, reflecting immigration, migration, and changes in population trends. Residents would have celebrated cultural diversity through community events, festivals, and activities that showcase different traditions and heritage.
  7. Technological Advancements: Advances in technology, communication, and digital infrastructure would have influenced daily life in the Barstow area. Residents may have experienced improved connectivity, access to information, and changes in how they interact with technology in their personal and professional lives.

Living in the Barstow area from 1971 to 2000 would have been characterized by a mix of military influence, transportation prominence, economic development, tourism opportunities, environmental awareness, cultural diversity, and technological advancements. The town would have continued to evolve and adapt to changing conditions while maintaining its role as a significant community in the high desert region of Southern California.

2001 – 2021

Life in the Barstow area from 2001 to today would have been characterized by further economic development, changes in industry, continued military presence, technological advancements, and ongoing efforts to address social and environmental issues. Here are some critical aspects of life in the Barstow area during this period:

  1. Economic Diversification: The Barstow area would have continued to diversify its economy beyond traditional industries such as transportation and military-related sectors. Efforts to attract new businesses, promote tourism, and support local entrepreneurship would have contributed to the region’s economic growth and job creation.
  2. Renewable Energy Initiatives: The Barstow area may have seen increased focus on renewable energy initiatives, such as solar and wind power projects, as part of efforts to transition towards sustainable energy sources and reduce reliance on fossil fuels. These developments would have created opportunities for green jobs and investment in clean technology.
  3. Infrastructure Improvements: Infrastructure projects, including upgrades to transportation networks, utilities, and public facilities, would have been implemented to support the growing population and economic activities in the Barstow area. Investments in infrastructure would have aimed to enhance connectivity, efficiency, and quality of life for residents.
  4. Military Training and Operations: The Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow and the National Training Center at Fort Irwin would have continued to play a significant role in the community, providing training and support for military personnel and contributing to the local economy. Military exercises and operations conducted in the region would have influenced daily life for residents.
  5. Education and Healthcare Services: Access to education and healthcare services in the Barstow area would have been a focus of community development efforts. Schools, colleges, and medical facilities would have expanded to meet the needs of a growing population and ensure that residents have access to quality services.
  6. Community Engagement and Social Initiatives: Community organizations, non-profit groups, and local government agencies would have worked together to address social issues, promote inclusivity, and support community well-being. Initiatives related to youth programs, affordable housing, healthcare access, and cultural events would have enriched the social fabric of the Barstow area.
  7. Digital Connectivity and Innovation: Technological advancements in communication, digital infrastructure, and e-commerce would have influenced how residents in the Barstow area connect, access services, and engage with the broader world. Efforts to expand broadband access and promote digital literacy would increase connectivity and provide opportunities for residents.

Overall, life in the Barstow area from 2001 to today would have been shaped by ongoing economic development, infrastructure improvements, renewable energy initiatives, military activities, community engagement, technological advancements, and efforts to address social and environmental challenges. The region would have continued to evolve and adapt to changing conditions while maintaining its unique character and sense of community in the high desert of Southern California.

Hallie Daggett

Hallie Morse Daggett, the daughter of John Daggett. John Daggett was a notable figure in his own right, having served as the Lieutenant Governor of California from 1883 to 1887 and later as the Superintendent of the San Francisco Mint.

Hallie’s connection to her father and upbringing influenced her independent spirit and determination.

Growing up in a family with such a public-service-oriented background may have instilled in her the confidence and resilience to pursue a career in the traditionally male-dominated forestry and fire lookout work. Her pioneering role as the first woman fire lookout in the United States Forest Service, where she dedicated 14 years of her life to protecting the forests of Northern California.

John Daggett

Daggett, California

Fred Loring

“Fred W. Loring, in his campaign costume, with his mule `Evil Merodach.’ Taken about 48 hours before he was brutally murdered by Apache–Mohaves while en route from Prescott, Arizona Territory to San Bernardino, Ca., by stage. Loring had been with the Wheeler expedition as general assistant and correspondent and was returning to the East with a mind stored with rare adventure and scenic wonders.”

By Timothy H. O’Sullivan, 1871.