There are numerous names of features within the story of the Cajon Canyon complex; Mormon Rocks, Lost Lake, Lone Pine Canyon, and more. There is one canyon, however, the most popular variation of the Old Spanish Trail as it entered southern California was known as Coyote Canyon.
In the early 1840s, Englishman Michael White and William Workman were partners in a store in New Mexico. White sold his part of the business and came west to live on one hundred acres his wife purchased from the Catholic Church. On this property near Mission San Gabriel, Michael White established a home. Indian raids were discouraging, but Mr. White worked on and ultimately succeeded in raising cattle. His herd grew and he looked for range land. Mr. White and two other men made an agreement to help each other raise cattle in the valley northwest of San Bernardino.
The Story of Coyote Canyon
It was near the mouth of the Cajon Canyon where he built his camp. However, the ‘partners’ failed to show up leaving Miguel to his own defense if there were an attack.
One morning Mr. White woke up to find his cattle missing–the culprits most likely were ‘Chaguanosos.’ The Chaguanosos were a band of Indians exiled and cast away from all, the worst of the worst, cast from their own tribes, notorious and deadly in their own right. These men would steal anything and everything and kill anyone that attempted to stop them. These renegades committed many of the raids on the animals of the ranchos. There was Chief Coyote who was known in the area to be cunning, and violent and leading a band of these heartless men.
During the dark of night, the Chief and his thieves drove away over 400 head of Mr. White’s herd. Michael White was alone save for a seventeen-year-old Indian boy. Together, they rode off to attempt to halt the theft. They needed to keep the band of thieves from leaving the Cajon Canyon and entering the Mojave Desert–they had to head them off at the pass.
Mr. White and the Indian boy rode up the canyon, circled around, and came in between the outlaws and the top of the pass. The thieves were unaware as they were greedily feasting on a horse they had killed.
Mr. White thought to stampede the herd back down through the narrows trapping the Chaguanosos from escape.
Michael drew the attention of Chief Coyote. The renegade charged him. Michael aimed and fired. The shot knocked the Chief off of his horse. He fell into the brush. Dead. The gunshot startled the cattle and they stampeded over the camp and back down the canyon surprising those in the camp. There was a gunfight. White would fire his gun and one by one the Chaguanosos fell dead in the canyon. The boy reloaded the extra gun and kept Michael White fighting. Several of the renegades escaped in the dust and confusion.
The stolen animals were rounded up and returned to the glen at the mouth of the Cajon canyon.
Calling the canyon ‘Coyote Canyon’ wasn’t in honor of a great chief. It was simply a ravine where a bad guy was killed. That is how the canyon became known as Coyote Canyon.
However, the story doesn’t end there- The Governor of California heard of this heroic episode and found that Mr. White had no land but desired to. So, Michael White became naturalized as Miguel Blanco, a citizen of Mexico, and received a grant for 32,000 acres (50 square miles) of land northwest of the Lugo Rancho San Bernardino. With this land situated on a high point of the bajada that runs the southwestern base of the San Bernardino mountains, he was to guard and defend the southern California ranchos from further raids from horsethieves.
Of course, the story doesn’t really end there, either- This is the beginning of the story of Miguel Blanco and the Rancho Muscupiabe.
’TWIXT the seas and the deserts, ’Twixt the wastes and the waves, Between the sands of buried lands And the ocean’s coral caves, It lies not East nor West, But like a scroll unfurled, Where the hand of God hath hung it, Down the middle of the world.
It lies where God hath spread it, In the gladness of his eyes, Like a flame of jeweled tapestry Beneath His shining skies, With the green of woven meadows, And the hills in golden chains, The light of leaping rivers, And the flash of poppied plains.
Days rise that gleam in glory, Days die with sunset’s breeze, While from Cathay that was of old Sail countless argosies; Morns break again in splendor O’er the giant, new-born West, But of all the lands God fashioned, ’Tis this land is the best.
Sun and dews that kiss it, Balmy winds that blow, The stars in clustered diadems Upon its peaks of snow; The mighty mountains o’er it, Below, the white seas swirled— Just California stretching down The middle of the world.
Out where the handclasp’s a little stronger, Out where the smile dwells a little longer, That’s where the West begins; Out where the sun is a little brighter, Where the snows that fall are a trifle whiter, Where the bonds of home are a wee bit tighter, That’s where the West begins.
Out where the skies are a trifle bluer, Out where the friendship’s a little truer, That’s where the West begins; Out where a fresher breeze is blowing, Where there’s laughter in every streamlet flowing, Where there’s more of reaping and less of sowing, That’s where the West begins.
Out where the world is in the making, Where fewer hearts in despair are aching, That’s where the West begins. Where there’s more of singing and less of sighing, Where there’s more of giving and less of buying, And a man makes a friend without half trying— That’s where the West begins.
(Read by Judge Rex B. Goodcell at the dedication of Camp Cajon July 4, 1919, and by William M. Bristol at the dedication of Live Oak Park by the Chamber of Commerce of northern San Diego County, July 17, 1920.)
The Flag by Charles L. Frazer
Hats off, ye men! Now lift the flag on high: Break out its folds and let them proudly fly As from its staff on this our natal day There floats the banner none may take away.
Its streaming lines, its starry field of blue Are caught by winds that long have known them true: And rising, falling, with exquisite grace, They kiss each other in a fond embrace.
Flag of our own, we give thee to the breeze: Thrice hail on land, thrice hail on bounding seas: On armored deck, o’er valley, peak and crag. Wave on, and on, our own beloved flag!
Thrice-hallowed flag, one moment thou shalt be Half-masted for those Sons of Liberty Who, over seas or on the swelling flood Have re-baptized thee with a nation’s blood.
Our hero dead! No matter how they fell. In camp, at sea> on crimson fields of hell; They gave their all our pledged faith to keep, Tis ours to pay them homage as they sleep.
Peace to their ashes; let us write each name In fadeless glory on the roll of fame: And unborn freemen shall their valor tell Soldier, and sailor, fare, O fare thee well! * * * *
Flag of the free, beloved on land and main. May treason never thy escutcheon stain; Defeat—the battle lost—were better far Than that dishonor dim one single star.
Aye, better that thy stars forever set; And God, and men» and angles thee forget. Than that thy name should ever used be To bind one shackle on humanity.
But thou, O flag, shalt not thine honor yield! Not by one thread, or star upon thy shield I Through calm and storm undaunted shalt thou ride. And all thy deathless principles abide.
O, Thou Who boldest in Thy guilding hand ‘ The veiled future of this mighty land. Keep Thou our flag, and may it ever be Triumphant in the cause of liberty!
Then fly, proud flag, from thine exalted place; Shine on. ye stars, by God’s eternal grace! With faith undimmed we dedicate anew Ourselves to thee—the Red, the White, the Blue.
On the north and east of San Bernardino Valley are the San Bernardino Mountains and beyond them the vast Mojave Desert. Through this high mountain range is a natural gap—a parting of the heights—a winding, tortuous passage, dividing the mountains and uniting the white sands on the north with the green lands of the south.
This is Cajon Pass. Cajon—pronounced cah-hone with the second syllable strongly accented—is the Spanish word for “box.” Because a portion of the defile is walled by high cliffs, the early Spaniards christened a portion of it “Paso del Cajon”—Box Pass. Through this pass comes the National Old Trails Highway, now paved from San Bernardino to Summit, a distance of 26 miles. It parallels the long abandoned and almost obliterated Santa Fe Trail over which, in 1849, and in the early ’50s, the Pioneers came to lay the foundations for a Southland empire.
At the point in the Pass where the old trail from Salt Lake joined the one from Santa Fe there stands a tall monument, erected in honor of those hardy adventurers. It was built in 1917 by the survivors of the Forty-Niners and their descendants and was dedicated on December 23 of the same year.
A short distance northward from the monument, and just 20 miles from San Bernardino is Camp Cajon, a welcome station for the incoming motor traveler, which an eastern writer has termed “California’s Granite Gate.” It, too, is a monument dedicated to the present and the future as the pioneers’ monument is to the past. Camp Cajon is the conception of William M. Bristol, orange grower, poet, and dreamer of Highland, 25 miles southeastward. Mr. Bristol first dreamed of his dream of Camp Cajon at the dedication of the Pioneers’ Monument.
Thirty years before, Mrs. J. C. Davis, a Wisconsin woman, had spent a winter in California and returned home, wrote, and published a poem entitled “The Overland Trail,” a graphic pen picture of the old trail as seen from the windows of a modern Pullman car. Mr. Bristol was present at the dedication of the monument for the purpose of reading this poem as a part of the formal program. It is an interesting fact that Mrs. Davis had returned to California and was residing at Devore, at the southern portal of the Pass, Without knowing that she was to contribute in any way to the ceremonies of the day, she was taken into the Bristol family car and was present to hear her poem unexpectedly read nearly a third of a century after it was written.
At the close of the ceremonies, the throng adjourned to the willow grove, where Camp Cajon now stands, and, sitting on the sandy ground, at a picnic dinner, It was then and there that the need for permanent conveniences for such an occasion occurred to Mr. Bristol, and on that day he began the formulation of the plans for making his dream come true. In May 1919, he pitched his tent in the willow grove, then a jungle, intending to take a two months’ vacation from his orange grove, and build a dozen concrete dining tables, each with benches of the same massive and indestructible type. That was the extent of his original dream. But so enthusiastically was his innovation received by the world at large, and especially by Southern California, that his vacation was stretched to two years; and when he finally resigned as director and returned to his home, there were fifty-five tables instead of the dozen, besides numerous other structures not contemplated in the original plans. He was not only an architect but an artisan, much of the actual work of construction being done by himself, personally, the ornamental mosaics of dark and white stone and the hundred or more metal tablets on the tables and buildings being his own handiwork. A wealth of beautiful blue granite boulders near at hand inspired and aided in the building of various structures which promise to stand for all time.
Perhaps the most elaborate structure at the camp is the Elks’ outpost clubhouse, erected by all the Elks’ lodges of Southern California at a cost of several thousand dollars and dedicated to loyal Elks of the world. It affords conveniences for serving a meal to half a hundred people, and, standing and facing upon California’s most popular transcontinental highway, it also proclaims that the order stands ready to meet and greet all comers to the Southland. Across its face, in a beautiful mosaic of dark and white stone are the initials, “B. P. O. E.,” and above this in the same artistic stonework, is the Elks’ clock, with its hands pointing to the mystic hour of eleven. Below is a metal tablet carrying the entire text of -Arthur Chapman’s poem, “Out Where the West Begins.” Elsewhere is a double tablet carrying John S. McGroarty’s favorite poem, “Just California.” And on the camp, flag column is four stanzas of Charles L. Frazer’s poem. “The Flag.” Each table and stove, each broiler and barbecue pit carry a tablet with an inscription and the name of the donor.
Perhaps the spirit of Camp Cajon is best and most briefly expressed in two tablets that read. “To the desert-weary traveler,” and “To the stranger within our gates.”
The following is the list of tables, stoves, and so on, with donors and the main part of inscriptions:
Twenty miles to San Bernardino, the Gate City, and home of the National Orange Show.
Thirty miles to Redlands and famous Smily Heights.
Twenty-three miles to Colton, the Hub City, where industry reigns.
Twenty-five miles to East Highlands, the Buckle of the Citrus Belt.
Twenty-three miles to Highland, gateway to City Creek, and Rim of the World.
Thirty-five miles to Mirage Valley, where things grow without irrigation.
Twelve miles to Sheepcreek, a watered and fertile valley.
Ten miles to Baldy Mesa, where things grow without irrigation.
Forty-five miles to Chino, where everything grows.
Twenty-three miles north to Adelanto, the transformed desert.
Twenty miles to Apple Valley, where apples keep the doctor away.
Twenty-three miles to Lucerne Valley, a land of abundant shallow water.
Sixty-one miles to Barstow, the metropolis of Mojave Valley.
Seventy miles to Santa Ana, the county seat of Orange County.
At the south portal of Caion Pass, Devore, the home of the muscat grape.
Twenty miles to Del Rosa, beneath the Arrowhead.
Twenty miles to Arrowhead Hot Springs, the hottest springs known.
Twenty miles to Rialto’s orange grove.
Twenty-three miles to Fontana, the largest orange grove in the world.
Twenty-five miles to Bloomington, orange, and lemon empire.
Thirty-five miles to beautiful Etiwanda, home of the grape and the lemon.
Thirty-five miles to Cucamonga with its peaches, grapes, and “welcomes.”
Forty miles to Ontario, the model city. offers opportunity.
Thirty-five miles oceanward to Upland, and Euclid Avenue.
To all nature lovers, by the employees of the State Hospital at Patten.
Dedicated to checker players by the family of John Andreson, Sr., a pioneer of 1850. To the “Stranger within our gates,” by the family of David H. Wixom.
The “West to the East ever calls,” Hiram Clark and family.
Dedicated to the people of Needles by George E. Butler.
Dedicated to the people of Cloverdale, Michigan, by Mrs. Chas. H. Schaffer of Marquette, Mich.
To commemorate the visit of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, dedication tour, April 28, 1920.
In honor of Fred T. Perris, who, in 1884, led the iron horse through Cajon Pass.
To the Pioneers of San Bernardino Valley, by Native Sons who have gone afield. (Judge B. F. Bledsoe, Paul Shoup, and others).
To our Pioneers, by Arrowhead Parlor, Native Sons.
To the Trailmakers, by officers and men of Santa Fe.
To Highway Builders, by officers and men of Santa Fe. Redlands Rotary Club, with Rotary emblem.
Riverside Rotary Club, with Rotary emblem.
San Bernardino Rotary Club, with double table, and international Rotary emblem.
“The groves were God’s first temples,” by W. M. Parker.
“Now good digestion wait on appetite, and health on both,” by A. C. Denman. Jr.
“To the desert-weary traveler,” by W. J. Hanford.
A bake-oven, dedicated to the baking public, by W. j. Hanford.
A family broiler, dedicated to the broiling public, by C. G. Lundholm.
A pump, dedicated to the “drinking public,” by W. D. Anderson. A community broiler, “Max Aron bids you broil your steak.”
A big range. Orange County.
One barbecue pit. dedicated to the “barbecuing public.” by W. J. Curtis, J. W. Curtis, Henry Goodcell, Rex B. Goodcell, Herman Harris, John Andreson, Jr. Joseph E. Rich, W. E. Leonard, E. E. Katz and Mrs. F. I. Towne.
Flag column, erected by the Native Sons of Illinois, as a tribute to the State of their adoption.
“I love you, California.” Column, its mosaics, and tablets, the handiwork of F. M. Bristol, contributed by him.
Flag pole, gift of J. B. Gill, formerly Lieutenant-governor of Illinois.
Large tablet carrying four stanzas, Chas. L. Frazer’s poem, “The Flag.”
Elevation 3,002 feet.
HISTORY OF SAN BERNARDINO AND RIVERSIDE COUNTIES by JOHN BROWN, Jr. Editor for San Bernardino County THE WESTERN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION — 1922
Juanita “Gravel Gertie” Inman lived in a shack off of the old Route 66in the Cajon Pass at the southern edge of the Mojave Desert north of San Bernardino, California. “Gertie’s” shack wasn’t really a shack, it was a chicken coop, albeit a very nice chicken coop. There were plenty of windows to let in light and coverings and tarpaulins to cozy the place up in the wind and storms, and there was a stovepipe sticking out of the roof indicating there was warmth available for the birds to keep them laying their eggs during the worst of times.
Plush quarters for the hens indeed. This shack, for looks and legal purposes, was a chicken coop–a hen house for pampered poultry.
During WWII building materials were in short supply and only available for subsistence projects such as watering troughs for hogs, horses, and milk cows. Structures for chickens, turkeys, and other such creatures were permitted.
So Gertie built her home under the auspices of building a hen house. It was very nice inside with several rooms and a fireplace. The county would check on projects like these, but from a reasonable distance, it looked like chickens lived there. They didn’t though. The chickens were kept outside in a wire coop. I believe Ms. Inman lived out the rest of her life there.