Ghost Stories & Legends

With its vast and rugged landscape, the Mojave Desert is steeped in legends and ghost stories passed down through generations. Here are some of the most famous ones:

  1. The Lost Ship of the Desert: One of the most enduring legends is that of a Spanish galleon laden with pearls and gold, which is said to have been stranded in the desert centuries ago. Over the years, many have searched for this lost ship, but it remains a tantalizing mystery, possibly just a mirage or a tale spun from the heat and isolation of the desert.
  2. The Ghosts of Calico: Once a thriving silver mining town, Calico is now a ghost town and tourist attraction. Visitors and employees have reported numerous ghost sightings, including that of a playful little girl, miners still panning for silver, and mysterious floating orbs.
  3. The Yucca Man: Similar to Bigfoot, the Yucca Man is a legendary creature said to roam the Mojave. Described as very tall and covered in hair, campers and hikers have reported this elusive being, though evidence of its existence is purely anecdotal.
  4. The Haunted Joshua Tree: The Joshua Tree National Park, part of the Mojave Desert, is home to many myths. One such story involves a specific Joshua tree said to be haunted by the spirit of a man who was hanged from its branches. Some claim to have seen his ghost wandering near the tree at night.
  5. The Cursed Gold of Pegleg Smith: This legend revolves around Thomas “Pegleg” Smith, a mountain man who allegedly discovered a huge black-coated gold nugget in the Mojave. He never found it again, and many treasure hunters have tried and failed to locate Pegleg’s lost gold, leading to speculations of a curse.
  6. The Char Man of San Bernardino: A lesser-known but chilling tale is that of the Char Man, a ghostly figure said to have been a fire victim. He is reputed to haunt the outskirts of San Bernardino, frightening unwary travelers with his burned and disfigured appearance.

These stories, whether based on fact or fiction, add a rich layer of mystery and intrigue to the Mojave Desert. They reflect the human fascination with the unknown and the allure of a beautiful and forbidding landscape.

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Hula Ville

After retiring as a ‘carny,’ or carnival worker at the Venice Pier and Santa Monica Pier, Miles Mahan (1896-1997) began building Hula Ville in 1955.

Wine- and beer-bottle tree sculptures adorned Joshua trees and wooden posts. Desert sandblasted wood signs held poetry and prose; dolls, award statues, and other found objects were displayed outside. A homemade miniature golf course bordered by half-buried bottles was included in his residence, as well as a pickup truck camper and a pickup truck camper without a truck. There was no charge, and donations were accepted.

Mahan also erected a large dancing hula girl sign at the entrance, a business discard he rescued and repurposed. The crude hand-lettered sign beneath her read: “People travel through the state, how little will they know her fate, for the traveler who’ll ever be the wiser, the Supervisors saved her life.” Busses traveling to Las Vegas from Los Angeles would stop, and Miles would entertain them by dancing on his little wooden stage, and they would leave tips. Even in his eighties, he was still able to dance. As much as he enjoyed guessing people’s weights at carnivals, he enjoyed watching Hesperia grow into a city. His poetry and books mention the many people he met along the way, with whom he loved talking about real estate. Whiskey Pete and Scotty from Death Valley were his friends, and Miles was quite a storyteller. These were all true stories. He appeared on the Johnny Carson Show as Johnny invited him back due to his outspoken personality 2 or 3 times. They would send a limo to pick him up and return him.

In 1995 Miles Mahan moved to a convalescent home and died on April 15, 1997. In September 1997, Hula Ville was demolished.

The Pessimist’s Perspective on the Victor Valley


The Victor Valley, located in Southern California, is often hailed as a vibrant and promising region. Its picturesque landscapes, growing economy, and close proximity to major cities make it an attractive destination for many. However, in this blog post, we will explore a different viewpoint – that of a pessimist. By examining the potential drawbacks and challenges faced by the region, we aim to offer a contrasting perspective on the Victor Valley.

1. Economic Challenges:

Despite its apparent economic growth, the Victor Valley faces several challenges that a pessimist would highlight. The region heavily relies on a few industries, such as agriculture and tourism, which leaves it vulnerable to fluctuations in these sectors. Furthermore, the lack of diversification in the job market can lead to higher unemployment rates during economic downturns, leaving many residents struggling to make ends meet.

2. Infrastructure and Public Services:

From a pessimist’s viewpoint, the Victor Valley’s infrastructure and public services are not without their shortcomings. The area’s rapid population growth has strained the existing road networks, leading to congestion and longer commuting times. Additionally, public transportation options are limited, making it difficult for residents without private vehicles to navigate the region. Moreover, the availability and quality of essential services, such as healthcare and education, may not meet the demands of the growing population.

3. Environmental Concerns:

The pessimist’s perspective also sheds light on the environmental challenges faced by the Victor Valley. As the region continues to develop, it risks encroaching upon natural habitats and disrupting local ecosystems. The demand for water, in particular, poses a significant concern, as the Victor Valley is located in a semi-arid region with limited water resources. Excessive groundwater extraction and inadequate water management practices could have long-term consequences for the region’s sustainability.

4. Limited Cultural and Recreational Options:

Contrary to the popular perception of the Victor Valley as a vibrant cultural hub, a pessimist might argue that the region lacks diverse cultural and recreational opportunities. The area’s limited investment in arts, entertainment, and recreational facilities may leave residents with fewer options for leisure and personal growth. As a result, the Victor Valley may struggle to attract and retain young professionals and families seeking a well-rounded lifestyle.


While the Victor Valley undoubtedly offers many benefits and opportunities, it is essential to consider the pessimist’s viewpoint to gain a well-rounded understanding of the region. By acknowledging the economic challenges, infrastructure limitations, environmental concerns, and cultural and recreational limitations, we can foster a more comprehensive dialogue about the future of the Victor Valley. It is through such discussions that we can work towards addressing these issues and ensuring a more balanced and sustainable future for the region and its residents.

Controlling Local History: The Practice of Marginalization and Banning People


Local history shapes community identity and collective memory. It preserves the stories, events, and heritage that shape the present. However, in some cases, the practice of controlling local history and banning people from it has raised concerns. This blog post explores the implications of such practices and their potential consequences for communities.

1. The Power Dynamics of Controlling Local History:

Controlling local history involves the selective interpretation and presentation of historical narratives, often influenced by those in power. Controlling the narrative can emphasize certain perspectives or events while suppressing others, resulting in a skewed understanding of the past. This power dynamic can lead to the exclusion and erasure of marginalized voices and communities.

2. Banning People from Local History:

Banning individuals from participating in local history recording, sharing, or access restricts collective memory and perpetuates exclusion. This exclusion can occur for a variety of reasons, such as political dissent, social status, or cultural differences. However, by denying individuals the right to contribute to, learn from, and engage with local history, a community risks losing valuable insights and perspectives.

3. Implications for Communities:

When individuals are banned from local history, the community as a whole suffers. The diversity of experiences and perspectives is diminished, resulting in a narrow understanding of the past. This can lead to a distorted sense of identity and an inability to learn from past mistakes or appreciate the contributions of all community members. Furthermore, the practice of banning people from local history can perpetuate social divisions and hinder unity and cohesion.

4. Promoting Inclusive Local History:

To ensure a more inclusive and accurate representation of local history, it is crucial to adopt practices that encourage participation from all members of the community. This can be achieved through initiatives such as oral history projects, community-led documentation, and the establishment of inclusive historical archives. Communities can create a more comprehensive and nuanced understanding of their shared past by actively involving diverse voices.

5. The Importance of Dialogue and Understanding:

Rather than banning individuals from local history, fostering open dialogue and understanding can lead to a more inclusive and comprehensive narrative. Communities can work toward reconciliation and healing by creating spaces for conversations, sharing different perspectives, and acknowledging history’s complexities. This approach allows for a more accurate reflection of the past, embracing diversity and promoting a sense of belonging for all community members.


Controlling local history and banning people from it has far-reaching consequences for communities. It perpetuates power imbalances, excludes marginalized voices, and limits collective memory. Instead of resorting to such practices. Communities should strive for inclusivity, open dialogue, and the active participation of all individuals in shaping and preserving local history. Doing so can create a more accurate, diverse, and enriching understanding of the past, ensuring a more inclusive and united future.

Walter Feller – 8/2023

The Waning Character of the Victor Valley: A Reflection on Change


The Victor Valley, once known for its vibrant character and idyllic charm, has witnessed a gradual decline in its unique essence over the years. Let us examine the factors contributing to the waning character of the Victor Valley and reflect upon the changes that have shaped its present state.

The Historical Significance:

The Victor Valley has a rich history, deeply rooted in the California Gold Rush and the railroad system development. These historical events played a pivotal role in shaping the valley’s character, attracting settlers, prospectors, and entrepreneurs seeking opportunities. The region blossomed with small communities, bustling industries, and a strong sense of community.

Urbanization and Economic Shifts:

Over time, the Victor Valley has undergone significant urbanization and economic shifts, which have profoundly impacted its character. With the expansion of cities and towns, vast open spaces have been replaced by commercial developments and residential neighborhoods. This rapid growth has led to a loss of natural beauty and a decline in historical landmark preservation.

Furthermore, economic changes have influenced the character of the Victor Valley. The decline of traditional industries, such as agriculture and mining, has resulted in a shift towards a service-based economy. While this has brought economic stability and employment opportunities, it has also contributed to a loss of the valley’s unique identity as small businesses struggle to compete with larger corporate chains.

Cultural Shifts and Loss of Community Spirit:

Another significant factor contributing to the waning character of the Victor Valley is the cultural shifts experienced by its residents. As the valley has become more diverse, the sense of community and shared values that once defined its character has diminished. People are now more connected virtually than physically, and the traditional community spirit has given way to individualism and isolation.

The Impact of Modernization:

The advent of modern technology and social media has further eroded the character of the Victor Valley. The constant connectivity and virtual interactions have replaced face-to-face communication, making it harder for residents to connect and engage with each other. The valley’s unique charm, once fostered by personal connections and local events, now struggles to compete with the allure of the digital age.

Preserving the Victor Valley’s Character:

Despite Victor Valley’s challenges, there is hope for preserving its character. Community-driven initiatives, historical preservation efforts, and a renewed focus on local businesses can help restore the valley’s identity. By embracing sustainable development practices and promoting cultural events celebrating the valley’s heritage, residents and local authorities can work together to attempt to revive the character that once defined the Victor Valley.


The waning character of Victor Valley reminds us of the ever-changing nature of our society. The forces of urbanization, economic shifts, cultural changes, and technological advancements have left an indelible mark on the valley’s identity.

Bigamist Wins Big


Hieronymus Hartman Serves Two Years for Bigamy-Legatee of the Woman Who Caused His Arrest

SAN BERNARDINO, July 18 1902.-There is a strange story back of the petition for letters of administration on the estate of Mary Hartman, which was filled this morning. Two years ago, Hieronymus Hartman, a Mojave river rancher, married Mrs. Nancy Brown of Victorville. When Mrs. Mary Hartman of this city saw the notice in a local paper, she caused the man’s arrest on a charge of bigamy. claiming that thirty years ago, she was married to the same man at Fort Cady. on the desert. She had come out from the east with an army officer’s family as a servant girl. Hartman was the blacksmith at the fort and wooed and won Mary. Hartman was convicted and sentenced to two years in San Quentin. Recently Mrs. Hartman #1 died and left an estate with a comfortable balance due on some property she sold. Under the law, Hartman is the next of kin and will inherit the money. His time in the penitentiary will be up this month.

High Desert Small Atlas

Cajon Pass/Victor Valley Roads

Working copy – not all roads included

1 – Old Spanish Trail/Indian trail (1827)
2 – Cajon Pass (Lower) – Indian trail
3 – Lone Pine Canyon – Indian trail
4 – Sheep Creek – Indian trail
5 – Sanford Pass (c.1854-57)
6 – Fort Tejon – Indian trail
7 – to Mojave River – Indian trail
8 – to Daggett (c.1855)
9 – Lucerne/Cushenbury Lumber road
10 – Van Dusen/Holcomb Valley Road – (1862)
11 – Mojave Indian trail (c.1776, 1826)