"Our goal is to make your
dreams a reality"
Al & Katy Gagnon of California City Real
Estate will be happy to assist you
in finding you a NEW HOME, VACANT LAND or
a RENTAL in California City!
Chronological History of the
Antelope Valley, Fremont Valley,
Indian Wells Valley and surrounding
areas in Kern County.
compiled by Al
20,000 years ago before the white man found the
Antelope Valley, Fremont Valley and Indian Wells Valley area in California,
the many Native American Indian Tribes of this valley roamed up and down
to hunt, fish and trade one another, it was a great place for them to live,
work, play and raise there families, and it's still a great place.
1772 Captain Pedro Fages is the first white man to cross through
the Antelope Valley. Native American Indians are told of white people before
this time, who they thought were deserters from the Spanish army in the
south, but none of their names were recorded.
1776 - Padre Francisco Garces, a Jesuit missionary, twice crossed
the Kern River near the mouth of the canyon, at Walker Pass, on his way
to the Mission of San Gabriel. He named the river Rio de San Felipe. Father
Garces was one of the first white men to visit the Fremont Valley which
was later to be known as California City. One
of two plaques marking Willow Springs as California Historic Monument No.
130 states that in 1776, Father Francesco Garces stopped at Willow Springs
in Rosamond on his return wanderings from the San Joaquin Valley.
1822 - Alta California belonged to Mexico after its independence
from Spain. 1826 - Jedediah Smith, Ewing Young, Joseph Walker and Kit Carson
frequented the mountain passes of the Sierras and explored the streams
of the San Joaquin Valley, the valley route became a popular route for
Native Americans, Spaniards and American explorers. They brought back tales
of high mountains and the potential for beaver pelts to his trapper friends
in the Rockies.
1827 Jedediah Smith and party traveled through the west
end of the Valley and Willow Springs.
1830 - Ewing Young and Kit Carson explore Great Central Valley's
streams looking for beaver and other forbearing animals.
1833 - Joseph R. Walker came past Mono Lake area on his way to
Monterey but didn't mention having seen the lake.
1834 - Joe Walker led several wagon trains south through the
Owens Valley and west over Walker Pass to the Central Valley from Owens
Valley. After their escape from Death Valley, the Jayhawkers '49er parties
split here to go west and south to the California gold fields. Here bandit
Tiburcio Vasquez preyed on stages and freighters traveling between the
Kern River mines and Los Angeles and the mines of Bodie and the Panamints.
1841 - The Bartleson-Bidwell party struggled over Sonora Pass
on their way to rich farmlands promised them in Mexican California. Many
other settlers followed over the pass even before gold was discovered.
1844 - John C. Fremont led an expedition to the Kern and San
Joaquin Valley with U.S. Army Corps of Topographical Engineers, to make
the first accurate survey of the California interior. American
general, explorer and "The Pathfinder," John C. Fremont, rested under the
willows at Willow Springs on one of his trips west.
1845 - Walker and John C. Fremont explored and mapped Owens Valley.
Kit Carson, Richard Owens, and Ed Kern explored and named places. For a
month they camped at the confluence of the North and South Fork of the
1846 - Many wagon trains were coming to promised fertile farming
fields in the Oregon Territory and to Mexican California. The Donner Party
got stuck by a pretty lake in early November- (46 were rescued, 42 didn't
make it); ten thousand Mormons came west to settle in the Salt Lake valley.
1848 - Alta California and the whole southwest territories were
ceded to the United States government by Mexico as a result of the Treaty
of Guadalupe Hidalgo after an 18 month battle. The United States territories
stretched from sea to shining sea.
1848-49 - Gold rush in the Sierra foothills.
1849 - The Jayhawkers passed through our area on their way to
the gold fields of the Western Sierras.
1849 - The Bennett and Manley parties were marooned in Death
Valley. They arrived on Christmas Day and had many problems, ran out of
food, sent for help, got rescued because the guys found water at Indian
Wells and Willow Springs. The famous 1849 pioneers of Rogers and Manly
came through the Antelope Valley on their 300 mile walk to Los Angeles
trying to get help for the Jayhawker party they had left behind in Death
1850 - California became a state on Sept. 9, with 27 counties.
(Kern Co. was then a part of Mariposa Co.) Other
visitors to Willow Springs included the Jayhawk Party, who struggled into
the oasis in 1850, after their grueling trip through Death Valley.
1852 - Mono Lake was "discovered" and named by an Army patrol
while chasing Indians out of Yosemite Valley. The men discovered gold flakes
in the area. It didn't take long for prospectors to pour over the Sierra
to explore the Mono and Owens basin mountains for riches.
1853 - Gold was discovered in Greenhorn Gulch and Keyesville,
causing a major gold rush to the Kern River Valley in 1854.
1854 - Fort Tejon was established in the Grapevine Canyon along
the wagon road between the Los Angeles basin ranchos and the San Joaquin
Valley. It was maintained until 1864 to keep peace between the Indians
and the settlers and their stock arriving in large numbers. Between 1850
and 1858, over 586,000 head of sheep and 70,000 cattle were brought to
California over the southern Emigrant Trail. In 1857 the Camel Corps arrived
at the fort, but that experiment didn't work well.
1857 Lieutenant Edward Beale traveled through the south
end of the Valley, heading for Fort Tejon, with his famous camel cavalry.
1858 - Butterfield Stage and Mail service from St. Louis to El
Paso, Tucson, and Yuma, through the Anza Borrego area, to Ft. Tejon, up
into the foothills north of what is now Bakersfield to skirt swampy Tulare
Lake, to Visalia, Stockton, and San Francisco. The line ran only 3 years
until telegraph replaced the need for rapid mail service and trains provided
1859 - Indian wars broke out in the Owens Valley. The Army set
up Camp Independence on July 4 with the intention of keeping peace between
the Paiute Indians and the settlers who were moving cattle on to the Indian
lands. Alney McGee brought cattle from Tulare over Walker Pass, and Sam
Bishop brought cattle and horses in from Fort Tejon. Problems continued
until 1863. Over 200 Indians were killed in various battles.
The Battle of Bishop in 1862 involved 50 settlers and 500 Indians.
Finally a treaty was signed in July, 1863. The Army escorted 998 Indians
to a reservation near Fort Tejon and Camp Independence was temporarily
abandoned. The Army maintained a presence at Fort Independence from 1865
to 1877, though most of the remaining Indians gave up their traditional
way of life and began working for the white settlers. Paiute lands had
been overrun with cattle and sheep. The pinion pines, which the Paiutes
depended upon for a pine nut crop each fall, were rapidly being cut down
for fuel for the mine smelters.
1860 - Discovery of gold in the Kernville area. The Big Blue
Mine prospered. In 1861 the settlement of Whiskey Flats formed below the
Big Blue mine and provided various services. In 1864 its name was changed
to a more respectable Kernville. Glennville was established in 1857 and
Woody and Claraville in 1862.
1860 - Discovery of silver in and around the Owens Valley and
gold farther north in and near Bodie. Dr. Darwin French discovered silver
in the Cosos and started the Darwin mines. The Comstock was producing silver
east of Lake Tahoe in what is now Virginia City. Much gold was being mined
around Mono Lake, and large gold mines were producing in Aurora.
1860 on, Willow Springs became a
stage and freight station and general watering place used by Remi Nadeau
in freighting silver from Cerro Gordo. Nadeau, the Searles Brothers, Borax
Smith and others used the station while developing the Death Valley borax
deposits and the Inyo and Kern River mining operation. They followed Horse
Thief Trail, which later became known as Walker Trail.
1861 - Mono County was formed from Calavaras County. Aurora was
designated County Seat (though it was later discovered to be in Nevada
1862 - Borax was discovered by John and Dennis Searles in Searles
1863 - Col. Baker owned Kern Island. Baker's fields held corn,
beans, potatoes, and alfalfa.
1864 - California State Geological Survey set the border with
Nevada, explored Sierra, and discovered Mt. Whitney to be tallest peak.
William Brewer came through the Indian Wells Valley and is supposed to
have said "A more god-forsaken, cheerless place I have seldom seen - a
spring of water - nothing else."
1864 - Willow Springs became a station
on the Los Angeles-Havilah Stage Lines. From 1872-76, Nelson Ward, who
owned part of the land, kept the stage station operating until the railroad
made stagecoaches obsolete.
1865 - Gold was discovered on Clear Creek south of Isabella and
the fast-growing town of Havilah was founded to accommodate the mines in
1866 - Portions of Tulare and Los Angeles counties were split
off to form Kern and Inyo Counties. Havilah was chosen Kern County Seat
as it was the largest town in the county at that time. Havilah boasted
the county's first newspaper. Independence was designated county seat for
Inyo County. Mines and mills were operating in many areas of the Owens
Valley. Ranching, particularly raising of vegetables and fruit orchards,
was thriving throughout Owens Valley and south in to the Indian Wells Valley
to supply the mines and settlements.
1868 - The toll wagon road was completed over Sonora Pass to
connect the Mono and Bodie mines with the markets on the west side of the
1869 - Bakersfield was founded with the opening of a post office.
It soon had a thriving newspaper.
1869 - The transcontinental railroad project was completed when
the Union Pacific line over Donner Pass was joined with the Central Pacific
line. In 1870 a rail line reached Bakersfield. By 1875 the rail road was
pushed east to Caliente, and in 1876 the Tehachapi Loop was built
and the train track went to Mojave and then to Los Angeles later that year.
Mojave received borax from Death Valley and Boron, gold from Randsburg,
and silver from Cerro Gordo, all to be shipped on the railroad to the port
of Los Angeles.
1870 - Bridgeport became the Mono County seat when Aurora was
discovered to be in Nevada and its mines were declining; the Bridgeport
Valley had over 9,000 acres in production of wheat, oats, barley, hay,
potatoes, butter and cheese.
1871 - Cerro Gordo mines were going great guns, with 4,800 people
and 1,600 mules living there. Mine production was 2,200 tons of ore that
year. Heavy wagon loads of 83 pound bars containing silver and lead, with
minor amounts of gold and copper, were hauled daily down the Yellow Grade
Road by Remi Nadeau's sturdy mule drawn freight wagons to Swansea. In 1872
ore was shipped by steamers Bessie Brady and in 1877 also on the Mollie
Stevens across Owens Lake to Cartago, then again by wagon to L.A. before
1876, then by the train at Mojave to L.A. In 1873 Colonel Stevens
set up his sawmill at the head of Carroll Creek to provide lumber for building,
but also wood to turn in to charcoal at the two kilns beside the west shore
of Owens Lake. The steamers took the charcoal back across the lake to the
smelters after unloading their silver bars. The Bessie Brady burned in
1882. Export of Cerro Gordo ores to refineries in San Francisco gave the
small port city of Los Angeles a big boost.
1872 - On March 26 a magnitude 8.5+ earthquake hit Lone Pine,
killing 29 people and causing long fault scarps over 20 feet high to form.
These hills can still be seen today north of Lone Pine. This earthquake
remains the largest so far in the State of California.
1873 - John and Dennis Searles formed San Bernardino Borax Mining
Company in what they called Searles Marsh. Their mill produced 100 tons
of borax per month. The same year Panamint City area, discovery of rich
silver veins. The Twenty Mule Team Story.
1873 - Bakersfield City was incorporated. The Kern County Seat
was moved there from Havilah in 1874. The town boasted a bank and county
hospital. The people of Bakersfield were advised to "plant the Australian
Gum Tree, or Eucalyptus, because they are a most valuable wood producer...
trees grow more rapidly than the willow or cottonwood, its wood is very
hard and strong and durable and it splits as readily as redwood or cedar."
1874 - Cerro Gordo Mine in the Inyo Mountains needed more water
and installed an 11 mile long pipeline, which brought 90,000 gallons of
water per day to the site. Daily production was 18 tons of ore which was
smelted into 400 bars of silver bullion.
1874 - Tiburcio Vasquez, whose hideout was in Robber's Roost,
robbed stages and freight wagons along the eastern Sierra, especially near
Coyote Wells (Freeman Junction) until he was captured later that year.
To discourage such robberies, the Cerro Gordo mine began making bullion
ores into 300 pound balls that could not be carried on a horse!
1874-77 - The blooming Panamint City mines in Surprise Canyon
below Telescope Peak produced $1 million in silver.
1876 - The Southern Pacific Railroad completed its line through
the Valley, to Mojave, and then down to Los Angeles - a huge boom to shippers
of gold, silver, borax and food to and from the tiny, but growing port
City of Los Angeles.
1876 - Under the direction of William Hood, Southern Pacific
railroad engineer, the world renowned Tehachapi Loop was completed. In
gaining elevation around central hill of the Tehachapi Loop, a 4000-foot
train will cross 77 feet above its rear cars in the tunnel below. The oldest
settlement in Tehachapi Valley, known as "Old Town," was established here
during the 1860s. Long an important station on the road between Southern
California and the San Joaquin Valley, the community began to decline when
residents gradually removed to nearby Greenwich, later renamed Tehachapi,
after completion of the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1876.
1878 - Large scale irrigation projects began in the Owens Valley
to supply the ranches with water by way of ditches from the Owens River.
This caused declining amounts of water for Owens Lake and it started dropping.
Gold was discovered in Mammoth in 1875, the rush to Bodie was in
the 1870's, in 1876 gold was found at Lundy and Tioga. The
Great Sierra Mining Co. built a wagon road to Sonora in 1878 to
haul in mining machinery to these mines.
1881 - The Mono Mills Railroad, later called the Bodie &
Benton RR, was built from Mono Mills on the south-east shore of Mono Lake
to Bodie to provide lumber and firewood for the town's people and large
timbers for the mines. It ran until 1917.
1881 - Borax was discovered in Death Valley in 1873, but in this
year William T. Coleman bought the claims and developed the Harmony Borax
works. His 20 mule teams hauled borax from Death Valley to Mojave, 165
miles in 10 days, from 1883 to 1888.
1880 -1900 - No new strikes were found in the Owens Valley area,
and silver prices dropped drastically. Mining declined as did the fortunes
of the farmers.
1882 - Gold discovered by Ezra Hamilton in what is now the Tropico
Gold Mine in Rosamond produced gold from 1882-1956.
18821885 The Valley lost 30,000 head of antelope,
almost half of the antelope for which the Valley was named. Unusually heavy
snows in both the mountains and the Valley floor drove the antelope toward
their normal feeding grounds in the eastern part of the Valley. Since they
would not cross the railroad tracks, many of them starved to death. Others
were attacked by coyotes and wildcats, or became easy prey for hunters.
1883 - Twenty Mule Team Trail established from Death Valley,
the route ran from the Harmony
Borax Mining Company works, later acquired by the Pacific Coast Borax
Company, to the
railroad loading dock in Mojave over 165 miles of mountain and desert
trail, wagons were used until 1889. Carson and Colorado narrow-gauge railroad
was completed from Keeler on the east side of Owens Lake at the bottom
of the Cerro Gordo road, to Carson City, NV. This railroad changed the
way freight in the Owens Valley was handled. Ores could now be shipped
north on the train to Carson City smelters, and vegetables and farm products
from the Owens Valley had a better means of transport to markets north
and south. Most trading was then done with San Francisco rather than Los
Angeles. The rail line was sold to Southern Pacific in 1900. In 1905 the
Standard Gauge rail was completed from Carson City to Tonopah and the narrow
gauge abandoned. In 1943 service was abandoned north of Laws and the track
pulled. In 1960 the "Slim Princess" made her last run and stopped in Laws.
Visit her at the Laws Railroad Museum 6 miles north-east of Bishop. General
Fremont climbs Turtle Back Mountain renamed Galileo Hill.
1888 - Bakersfield acquired telephones. By 1889 the town had
gas lights, and by 1900 electric lights. Bicycles, the ones with the big
front wheels, were seen on the streets.
1892 - Standard Consolidated Mining Company installed AC power
to the mill Bodie from a hydro project on Green Creek. Since the engineers
didn't know if power could turn corners, they made the 13 mile line straight
as an arrow to Bodie. Remnants of the Green Creek power plant and dam can
be seen, as can the clearing for the power line as it comes over the hills
into Bodie from the southwest.
1893 - Sequoia National Forest Reserve was formed. The town of
1894 - Gold was discovered in the Yellow Rover vein on Standard
Hill by George Bowers.
1895 - Rand Camp was founded and became the town of Randsburg.
The Rand Mining District's fabulous gold strike at the Yellow Aster brought
over three thousand people to the area by 1896, and many more followed.
The town of Randsburg quickly developed, followed by the supply town of
Johannesburg in 1896. Both names were adopted from the profusion of minerals
resemblilng thoes of the ranch mining district in South Africa. In 1907,
Churchill discovered tungsten at Atolia, used in steel alloy during World
War I. In June, 1919, Williams and Nosser discovered the famous California
Rand Silver Mine at Red Mountain.
1896 - Garlock, Eugene Garlock constructed a stamp mill near
this spot for the crushing of gold ore from the Yellow Aster Mine on Rand
Mountain. Known originally as Cow Wells by prospectors and freighters during
the 1880's and early 1890's, the town of Garlock continued to thrive until
water was piped from here to Randsburg in 1898, and the Kramer-Randsburg
rail line was completed in the same year.
1897 to 1905 -- Ballarat Gold Mining District was home and headquarters
for 400 to 500 people. It hosted 7 saloons, 3 hotels, a Wells Fargo station,
post office, school, a jail and morgue, but not one church. Ballarat was
an oasis of fun, frolic, and relaxation -- a town to go to and blow off
the dust of long trails and hard work.
1896 - Johannesburg was founded. Much gold and later silver were
found in the area.
1896 - Wells Fargo & Co. express offices at Havilah, Weldon,
and Kernville closed after a big stage robbery on the Kernville and Caliente
Stage line. Most of the activity had shifted to the Rand Mining District
1897 - The Randsburg Railway terminus at Johannesburg connected
to the Sante Fe tracks 28 miles south near "Four Corners," Kramer Junction.
Ore could be shipped by rail to Barstow and to Mojave and Los Angeles.
The line closed in 1933 when production from the mines of the area slowed.
1897 - Ballarat post office was opened as gold was discovered
in nearby canyons. It closed in 1917. Today gold mining is active again
in the canyons south of the ghost town. CRBriggs has a highly productive
gold mine 12 miles south of Ballarat. Visit the cemetery, about all that
is left of old Ballarat.
1898 - The Pacific Borax Company was founded in the Searles Valley.
1899 - Oil was discovered in the Bakersfield area. A different
kind of rush started for "black gold."
1900 - Gold and silver were found in the Nevada mines of Tonopah,
Goldfield, Rhyolite, Manhattan, and Round Mountain. The Owens Valley people
had new markets and shipped produce and meat over there by wagon and the
1902 to 1907 - Kern River power plants 1, 2, and 3 built. The
Borel Canal and power plant were completed in 1904. Power from these plants
was shipped on steel towers to Los Angeles, proving that steel would not
disrupt the transmission of electricity.
1905-1907 - The City of Los Angeles began buying Owens Valley
properties and water rights.
1907- Funds were appropriated from Congress for construction
of the Los Angeles aqueduct.
1908 - The Nevada and California Railroad (now Southern Pacific)
extended the Owenyo line north from Mojave into the Owens Valley to serve
the construction of the Los Angeles Aqueduct and to make freight connections
with the Carson and Colorado Railroad at Owenyo station, northeast of Lone
Pine. Aqueduct construction continued until 1913. Mules were used more
than any other means of transport around the construction. The cement plant
in Monolith, east of Tehachapi, was founded to provide cement for this
immense project. When completed, the aqueduct included over 12 miles of
steel pipe siphons (visible as the black pipe in Nine Mile, Short, and
Jawbone Canyons), 142 tunnels, mostly through the Sierra west of the Indian
Wells Valley, and 2 major reservoirs, upper and lower Haiwee. Sidings and
53 construction camps were eventually used; those in the Indian Wells Valley
included Terese, Siding 16, changed to Magnolia and in 1913 changed
to Inyokern, and Siding 18, changed to Brown in 1909, when George Brown
built a hotel there. The post office at Brown remained in service until
1948. Water spilled into the L.A. basin in 1913, but the City of Los Angeles
continued to buy irrigation districts, water rights, and property in the
Owens Valley well into the 1940's.
Meanwhile, the ever expanding chemical industry founded the town of
Trona (the name of a mineral containing borax and potash), and then Argus,
West End, and Pioneer Point and their respective chemical processing plants.
Pacific Borax Co. bought out the Searles brothers; 1912 - Electric
power came to Trona. 1913 - American Trona Corporation built the
Trona plant and company town; 1914 - Trona Railway was built to
haul the plant's products to the railroad in Mojave; 1926 - American
Potash and Chemical Corporation bought out Pacific Borax; 1956
Westend plant was built;
1962 Stauffer Chemical Corporation plants;
Kerr McGee bought out American Potash and then Stauffer in 1974; North
American Chemical Company bought the entire complex, and now it is owned
by IMC chemicals.
1903 - City of Bishop was incorporated and already had electricity
from hydroelectric projects up on Bishop Creek. Mine production in most
places around the Owens Valley was declining.
1903 - Jack Keane discovered gold in the mountains of Death Valley.
By 1907 there was a 20 stamp mill working at the bottom of the hill. The
tramway and buildings are still there, in pretty good condition.
1904 - The Kern Power Co. made enough electricity from its hydroelectric
power plant at Borel Powerhouse near Miracle Hot Springs to supply not
only Bakersfield, but also Los Angeles with power to run red electric street
cars. The Bishop Creek hydroelectric power plants of the Nevada Power,
Mining, and Milling Co. supplied power to the mines at Tonopah, Goldfield,
and soon Rhyolite.
1904 William Barton was the first to use a gasoline engine
to pump water from his well. Other farmers were quick to adopt this method
of pumping. This new method proved to be a vast improvement over the old
reliance on water from artesian wells. This was the beginning of the great
Valley alfalfa industry. as the Valley quickly became one of the biggest
producers of alfalfa in California.
1905~1913 The Los Angeleslnyo Aqueduct was constructed
across the Valley.
1905 - Kern River Canyon Road was completed from Democrat Hot
Springs into the South Fork Valley. To get there from Bakersfield still
required either going up Caliente Creek and Walker Basin, or over Breckenridge
1905 - In Death Valley, the gold mines at Skidoo produced over
$6 million in gold until 1917. They only problem was lack of water at the
townsite, so a 23 mile long pipeline was built to bring water from Telescope
Peak to run the pelton wheel for generators at the mill, and from that
came the saying "23 Skidoo"! Scram!
1905 - Walter Scott (Death Valley Scotty as he would later be
called) with the backing of Sante Fe and his friend Albert Johnson, hired
a train to run from Los Angeles to Chicago in record time, 45 hours, July
19051920's The years of the big jackrabbit drives
in the Valley. These drives became necessary when the rabbits would become
so thick that they would destroy many acres of farmers' crops.
1906 - Greenwater, a copper mining "town" sprang up in Death
Valley. It only lasted 13 months, but it was a real boom town for a while
with a post office and newspaper!
1907 - Rhyolite and Bullfrog mines opened near Beatty, and the
Tonopah and Tidewater railroad connected Tecopa, the Ryan Siding, Beatty,
the Rhyolite siding, and other mines to Goldfield, Nevada. All were supplied
by electricity from Bishop Creek, CA.
1909 - Homesteaders arrived in the Indian Wells Valley as aqueduct
1910 on - The old stage and freight roads traversing the valley
became well traveled highways. Cars came with the aqueduct construction
personnel. The Homestead, now a fine restaurant, along with nearby Indian
Wells Lodge, Nine Mile, Little Lake Hotel, Gill's Oasis, and Dunmovin all
grew up to serve the public. The road up Sherwin Hill was completed and
paved in 1916. Today this is called the Lower Rock Creek Road but
it was in use as Highway 395 until the 4 lane highway was completed up
Sherwin Grade in the late 60's.
1910 - The Owens Valley had 4500 settlers producing apples, grapes,
corn, wheat, potatoes, alfalfa, honey, sheep (43,000 of them!), horses,
and cattle. Artesian wells had existed as far south as Independence, but
the intake to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, LADWP, canal
system at Aberdeen shortly dried up the water works in the southern end
of the Owens Valley. There was no longer water for the lower Owens River
nor for the shrinking Owens Lake. It completely dried up by 1927.
1910 The Corum family homesteaded the west side of Rogers
Dry Lake. A small town, Muroc (which is Corum spelled backwards), developed.
At the present time, this area is known as Edwards Air Force Base.
1911-1915 - Cerro Gordo mines have another boom for zinc ore
and salvage more lead and silver ores from the dump piles.
1912 - The Robertson family homesteaded in the Indian Wells Valley
and in 1913 the Bowman family had 160 acres along what is now Bowman Road.
The Crum family established a dairy (where the Indian Wells Valley Water
District offices are now). The area was known as "Crumville."
1913 - Death Valley's official weather station recorded 134 degrees,
still a record.
1914 The Pacific Light and Power Company brought the first
electric power lines into the Valley. This company later sold to the present
Southern California Edison Company.
1917 - Mt. Whitney Fish hatchery was completed. Fish planting
began in Sierra lakes and streams, primarily Golden Trout taken from the
upper Kern River watershed and stocked in Cottonwood Lakes.
1920 - The Indian Wells Valley had 360 acres of fruit trees (half
in apples), alfalfa, melons, broom corn, and cotton. The northern Owens
Valley, by contrast, had 75,000 acres in production, but Los Angeles was
buying farms and water rights very fast, and farms were being abandoned.
1920 - The U.S. Geographical Board gave the name Indian Wells
Valley to our area, consolidating what had been Brown, Salt Wells, and
Inyokern Valleys. China Lake was named for the Chinese railroad workers
migrated down after building the Carson and Colorado railroad in the Owens
Valley. They mined borax on the north shore of the playa for a short time.
Chinese talents were also used to build the freight wagon roads.
Remains of Chinese rock work can be seen at the Slate Range Pass on
the old wagon road which went from Red Mountain to Ballarat and Skidoo.
1920 - A health resort was established at Coso Hot Springs, east
of what is now the Coso Junction rest area. Long before that the Native
Americans in the area used the hot muds.
1921 Mint Canyon Highway was paved and its name changed
to Sierra Highway.
1923 - Construction of the Little Lake hotel finally finished.
By then a dam has been built at the south end of the tule marsh and the
many springs had made a substantial Little Lake as we know it today.
1924 - Albert Johnson began building his Death Valley Ranch.
Later this would be called "Scotty's Castle" after its frequent occupant,
Walter Scott, "Death Valley Scotty". The stock market crash of '29 also
stopped construction at the Ranch, but really only the pool out in front
of the house wasn't done. Today Scotty's Castle hosts History Tours every
day of the year. Rangers dress as the people of the ranch in the 20's.
1924 Palmdale Lake reconstructed as Harold Reservoir.
1925 - Borax discovered in Boron, didn't open until 1957, largest
open pit mine in the world, 3rd largest payroll in Kern County.
1931 - A ceremony was held at Red Rock Canyon to celebrate the
paving of Highway 6 from Los Angeles to Bishop. Even with the road, the
30's were a period of decline in the Owens Valley. Los Angeles continued
to buy the farms and water rights and the mines were not producing well.
1933 - Death Valley National Monument was created by Congress.
1934 - Gold discovered at Golden Queen Mine by Jess Holmes on
Soledad Mountain. Another 1934 discoverer
was Jess Knight, who owned the Elephant Eagle mine on Soledad Mountain.
His son, Goodwin Knight, became governor of California. The Cactus
Queen gold and silver mine was discovered in 1934.
1936 - Joe Fox bought the Crum dairy and built a tufa house for
his family. It is still at the southwest corner of Ridgecrest Blvd. and
Norma St. in Ridgecrest. The Royce family built the first "real" swamp
cooler in Trona. It had a large fan, excelsier pads held by chicken wire,
and a pipe to drip water on the pads.
1939 - Pine Creek tungsten mine started, bringing some employment
to the Owens Valley. Los Angeles continued buying lands and water rights
into the Mono Basin.
1939 - The Benthams had a store and service station at "Bentham's
Corner," where the Bank of America is now located in downtown Ridgecrest.
1940's-1950's - Crusty female pilot
Pancho Barnes, whose Happy Bottom Riding Club on Edwards Air Force Base
was immortalized in "The Right Stuff," was also a frequent visitor to Willow
1941 - The Ridgecrest Post Office was established and town was
officially renamed. (Ridgecrest was the winner in a contest by one vote
over Sierra View).
1941 - Dave McCoy brought the first portable rope tow to the
Mammoth Mountain area and to McGee Mountain. Mammoth proved to have better
snows. Los Angeles Department of Water and Power began work on Long Valley
Dam to form Crowley Lake, and put a tunnel under the Mono Craters to bring
June Lake Loop and Mono Basin water to Crowley Lake. Mono Lake began to
decline without the creek waters flowing into it.
1942-46 - Manzanar Relocation Camp, between Lone Pine and Independence,
housed over 10,000 people of Japanese ancestry, even though most were U.S.
citizens. When the camp was dismantled in 1946, many of the buildings were
brought to NOTS, China Lake. (see below)
1943 - The United States Navy established a giant research, development,
test and evaluation facility in the Indian Wells Valley, closing ranching
and mining activities in the huge land holdings and establishing a "village"
on base called China Lake. The facility was called NOTS, the Naval Ordnance
Test Station, until 1967 when it became the Naval Weapons Center. Harvey
Field was completed near Inyokern. It became the Inyokern Airport when
the Navy planes moved to China Lake at Armitage Field. Electricity came
to the Base and to Ridgecrest.
1946 - Muroc Army Air Field established; renamed Edwards Air
Force Base in 1956.
1948 - Congress appropriated funds for a dam at the confluence
of the North and South Forks of the Kern River to prevent flooding of the
City of Bakersfield. The City had suffered extreme flooding in 1867, 1893,
and even in 1950 as the dam was being constructed. The 1950 flood was measured
at 30,000 cubic feet per second. Normal high release from the dam today
1952 - Major earthquakes on the Garlock fault severely damaged
Tehachapi and then Bakersfield.
1953 - Los Angeles completed the Owens River Gorge hydroelectric
plants. Lake Isabella dam was completed in March.
1954 - The road to Mammoth Mountain was paved. Mammoth Mountain
Ski Area began; 6 chairs had been installed by 1965; 26 chairs by 1993.
In 1997 a major interest in MMSA was sold to Interwest, a Canadian firm
with plans to further develop both the ski area and the town.
1954 - Walter Scott, Death Valley Scotty, died. He is buried
on Windy Hill just above the castle, with his dog Windy.
I'm sure I left a lot of history out, if you have something you would
like to add, please email me.
Can't find the right property?
Let us know what you are looking for and we will
be glad to help you find it.
California City Real Estate
"Serving the entire Antelope
6508 California City Blvd., California City, Ca 93505
Tel (760) 373-2662 Fax (760) 373-2663
Open Daily 9 AM to 6 PM
"Open Earlier or Later by Appointment"
This website created, maintained and owned by