by Bob and Sue Jaussaud
The adventure began with a call from Marian Johns: “I know this is last minute, but can you meet us in Baker tomorrow? We are going with the Harders to try and ﬁnd a cabin we have never seen in theMojave.” Sue and I couldn’t pass up an invitation like that.
A friend of a friend had told Neal and Marian about this wonderful cabin near the Old Dad Mountains and they wanted to ﬁnd it. We didn’t know that such a thing existed, namely a cabin in the Mojave that Neal and Marian had never seen. We hadn’t heard of it either. Turns out that it does exist and is in ﬁne shape due to the efforts of a jeep club that has adopted it.
The cabin is located near the Brannigan Mine, where gold was discovered in 1905. The mine wasn’t a big producer, but it seems the Herrod family occupied the cabin until the 1970s. Recently the cabin has been adopted by the Desert TOADS, “The Old As Dirt & Sand” jeep club. Many thanks to theTOADS for preserving this unique piece of Mojave history and to Marian for including us in this adventure. ~ Bob & Sue
By Bill Smith
Two DE members, Bill Powell and Bill Smith, took an off-road trip through the KOFA National Wildlife Refuge in the KOFA Mountain range south of Quartzite on January 21, 2018. They were part of a group of roughly 65 people in 32 vehicles - Ham radio operators and their families - who were attending the annual Quartzfest ham radio event in Quartzite, Arizona. One special highlight of the trip was the discovery of a maintained well that appears to be in the refuge to provide a water source for larger wildlife. Though not a DE activity, one could scarcely tell the difference. This may become a trip offered to DE members in the cool air of winter 2018/2019.
Black Mountain Area Trip
Sunday, January 14, 2018
Leader: Nelson Miller Photos from Ken Hemkin, Nelson Miller and Bill & Julie Smith
Sunday after the Museum Work Party, we took off from the Barstow Museum with 5 vehicles and 11 people (Nelson, Ellen, Julia, Ken, Peter & Janet, Bill & Julie, Ron & Barbara, and Jacque). Julia is a grad student working on her doctorate regarding historic and cultural preservation in the Mojave. Jacque is a friend of Barbara’s that we hope will join us on future trips. Thanks to Bill Smith for running tail all day!
This is another trip for which a Giant Thanks is owed to Bill Mann. We visited most of the sites he mentions around Black Canyon in his first book, “Guide to 50 Interesting and Mysterious Sites in the Mojave.” Our first stop was Murphy’s Well, where we explored the petroglyphs and a few historic signatures.
We proceeded on to Inscription Canyon, where we met Sam Hunter, a Museum member dedicated to protecting Black Canyon. He shared his unique views of the meaning behind all the petroglyphs and pointed out some interesting petroglyphs in Inscription Canyon. We had lunch and spent about an hour and a half exploring Inscription Canyon and talking to Sam.
After lunch, we stopped at the Birdman Petroglyph, which Ken had always wanted to see and which Bill Mann indicates was at one time the logo of the American Institute of Archaeology. Below it are three bedrock grinding stones and one the historic “Tillman Signatures” from the 1870’s.
We continued on around Black Mountain to our next stop at Scout’s Cove, where we explored a miner’s dwelling carved into the tufa dome and scouted for opal. Bill Mann reports that the Tiffany Jewelry Company financed mining of fire opal here.
Next stop was Black Canyon Well and a short distance further Black Canyon Stage Stop. Where was the water for the Stage Stop? Another Bill Mann mystery! We saw another Tillman signature here. Both the 20-Mule Teams and a stage line followed this route through Black Canyon. Who was Tillman? More Bill Mann mysteries.
We progressed along our route and found the Spiderman Petrogylph among hundreds of others in the boulder field along the edge of another Black Mountain. A bit further down the road we stopped in the Canyon also filled with petroglyphs, including a stick figure with an atlatl and scrawled modern graffiti, even “E=MC2”. At the end of the day with the sun beginning to set, we headed for home.
Museum Work Party & Black Mountain Visit
Saturday, January 13, 2018
A great big “THANK YOU” to Bob Jaussaud, who first suggested this work party and to all the rest that participated in helping out with the work party at the Mojave River Valley Museum!
Some of the significant contributions from Desert Explorers included:
Bob Jaussaud - worked on replacing light fixtures and installing mule rider
Bill Smith - Worked on replacing light fixtures, replaced a fan switch in the library, and installed locks on cases with Germain Moon dolls
Julie Smith - Cleaned and put out Germain Moon dolls
Ellen Miller - Cleaned up yard debris and helped put out the Germain Moon dolls
Barbara Midlikoski - helped everywhere all day long
Ken Hemkin - helped with lights, assembled mule train pieces, and helped install the lead mule rider
Nelson Miller - organized tasks and helped with lights, Germain Moon doll cases, mule train assembly and installation, and clean up.
There were also eight volunteers from the Museum that contributed throughout the day, including: Jesse and Peggy Byrd who worked in the yard cleaning and sprucing it up, Cliff Walker and Marjorie planted plants in our Pollinator Garden, Dave Mott was there to help, Dian Hare helped wherever she could and did the Sandwich Run for lunch, and Katie Boyd and Pat Schoffstall worked at organizing donated items.
Pat Schoffstall, from the Museum, reports that so many things got done! Germain Moon’s Kachina Doll Collection and the dolls Germain researched and made representing numerous Native American tribes are a big hit - people have been oohing and aahing over them since they have been put on display. They are beautiful and Julie and Ellen did a fantastic job of putting them on display after Bill made sure the cases could be locked and secure. All of us at the Museum and Germain’s two sons, Dennis and Bert, are pleased beyond words. These were crowded into a free-standing case, but the Museum is going to move them into one of the large window cases.
The Germain Moon Dolls are really an amazing collection and everyone should stop by the Museum and check them out when you have a chance.
Hello all you Wonderful People -
Words cannot express our appreciation for what you did for us last Saturday, but I’ll try.
Nelson told me the original idea for a workday came from Bob Jaussaud.
OK Bob, that makes you my hero - it was a terrific idea and it was carried out with style and grace and good humor and lots of elbow grease.
Things were taken care of that we hadn’t been able to take care of and now we have lights and circulating air and a cleaner yard and new displays both inside and outside.
Germain Moon’s dolls are a big hit - people have been oohing and aahing over them all week. They are beautiful and Julie and Ellen did a fantastic job of putting them on display after Bill made sure the cases could be locked and secure. All of us and Germain’s two sons Dennis and Bert are pleased beyond words.
So many things got done and I won’t list them all because I fear I would forget something and embarrass myself.
Some of the biggies are:
Bob worked on lights and helped install the first mule rider in the yard
Bill worked on lights and a fan switch and installed locks on the
display cases for Germain’s dolls
Julie cleaned up in the yard and worked on Germain’s dolls
Ellen worked in the yard and on Germain’s dolls
Barbara helped everywhere all day long
Ken helped with the lights, helped with assembling the rest of the mule train, and helped install the first mule rider
Nelson - what can I say about Nelson? He is here almost every week helping us anywhere and everywhere
Jesse and Peggy Byrd worked in the yard cleaning and sprucing it up
Cliff Walker and Marjorie planted plants in our Pollinator Garden
Dave Mott was here to help
Dian Hare helped wherever she could and did the Sandwich Run for lunch
Katie Boyd was here like she is almost every day of every week. This place would fall apart without her.
I’m a little old-school and writing a “Thank You” via email goes against my grain, but Nelson assures me that no one, with the exception of myself, thinks negative thoughts about it.
I hope he is right.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart -
Salton Sea Whimsy
by Sue Jaussaud
“Whimsy…a fanciful device or creation, especially in art.” Well, that pretty much describes the places Bob and I recently visited in the Salton Sea area. Our ﬁrst stop was at the International Banana Museum (“The Most A-Peeling Place on Earth”) near tiny North Shore. The museum is just one large room, but it’s delightful… and delicious. There is a nominal admission charge, which is waived if you buy something, and you really, really want to enjoy one of their chocolate banana shakes. While whipping them up, the owner told us the story of the museum’s origin. And when his wife saw me taking Bob’s photo, she popped up from behind the counter wearing, what else, a banana costume. Display cases line the walls, full of more banana related items than you ever knew existed. Take a look on line, and call ﬁrst to be sure they’re open. Then go bananas!
Our second stop was “East Jesus”, near Slab City, east of Niland. Amazing folk art lives here, created from the ﬂotsam and jetsam of a trash pile. And it’s wonderful! Enter through a metal arch decorated with bicycles and propane bottles, and move on to the bottle wall, giant lizard, decorated cars, and TV wall. The creations go on and on, and you are free to walk around and take pictures. Nice folks here, too. I do love the desert, and ﬁnding this stuff is just the best! ~ Sue
Report of an unofﬁcial DE trip
The Jaussauds invited two couples to join them at their Colorado River shore home for a fun three day holiday. It was at the end of September and the weather could not have been more perfect. However, as you read my report of this most peculiar trip you will see why I do not name the invited couples, so as to save them embarrassment.
The DE members know me and know that I am a staid quiet and less than talkative, serious person, but I need to reveal some information about our guests to DE. I was designated to write the trip report; I suspect so, as usual, the DE members would pick on me.
My wife, Ruth, and I arrived at their gated private river road on the east side of the river across from Needles, California about midday and was I surprised. As I toured their property, I found that it was a large lot with four modern garage buildings. DE members know that Bob is retired from the entertainment industry and this was obvious as I saw what he and Sue have done with their place. They have saved a variety of desert treasures, including two trucks that had run down a bit but had been resurrected.
Before the other couple arrived, Bob and Sue took us on an old desert road north to a dilapidated and very old town where Bob was shopping for more desert treasures. There were a lot of cars and people, as well as a large local population of burros who seemed to have the right of way. As we tried to walk they kept getting in my way and trying to intimidate me into feeding them. Further on, we were shown some old mines. One was the Gold Roads Mine where my grandfather lost his right arm. Also, we were shown some of the old Historic Beale Road and many other old interesting sites.
After coming back to the river and the bunk house, we had a large pot luck dinner with the other couple, who had arrived while we were gone. Everyone, except me, worked together preparing the repast. I preserved my male image by not being in the kitchen. Their composite dinner was culinary art. They made me eat too much, I was just trying to be polite.
The next day was the boat trip. Six of us started down the river. There were hundreds of other very active boats going both ways and they stirred the river up until sometimes it was as if we were on the high seas. My wife and Allan laid back up front in the luxurious seats and were quite happy and smiling not even noticing that I was getting slapped in the face by the occasional extra high thrashing waves.
The beautiful verdant wild growth crowded the water in many places as we traveled toward our goal, the Topoc Gorge. Along the miles there were Indian lands and Wild Life Preserves. We were amazed, seeing majestic Blue Heron and other migrant fowl amongst the ever present forest of green reeds crowding the sometimes invisible shore line. There were many exposed beaches where hundreds of families were camped; tents, campers and beached boating parties all apparently having a wonderful time creating a spirit of hilarity. All that, along with the invigorating clear river air, I believe was what caused the ladies in our group to become wild and uncontrollable and eventually causing me much embarrassment.
Sue and Ding had driven down to the boat landing and resort at Topoc to meet us. We landed there and, as a group, we got to see the greatly improved facility there with all kinds of refreshments, restaurant and so forth, a grand place. That’s when it happened. The ladies started acting like free spirits and not cherishing their clothing, becoming somewhat audacious. And after they were persuaded to try to behave, to little avail, we later caught them holding the big door open to the men’s restroom so as to photograph the row of salacious urinals there.
Having some luck corralling the ladies, we all proceeded on down the river, passing under the marvelous bridges that accommodate tremendous auto and train trafﬁc, as well as several major interstate gas transmission lines that cross above the river. One of our major national arteries.
We then moved on into the Topoc Gorge. A majestic place where the river goes through the gigantic towering geological mountain formations. The town of Needles, California up river from there is named for them. It was awesome, grotesque dark brown soaring rock formations routing the river this way and that with often a menacing barren rock shoreline giving the impression we were imprisoned by these very ancient mountains. Along the way the river spilled off into canyons, secret reed lined waterways disappearing into a wild rugged country. Captain Bob took the boat off into one. It was profusely lined with reeds and river plants that crowded our passage and then it opened into a private majestic lagoon and he stopped the engine. We were alone and away from the turmoil of the crowd on the river. It was a splendid interlude, though we were alarmed when the captain pretended at ﬁrst that the super Hi-Tech engine wouldn’t restart.
We then rejoined the crowded river that ﬂows on to Yuma, eventually to the Ocean. But we turned about to return to Jaussaud’s landing. We left Ding and Sue off at the Topoc landing; I don’t know how they conducted themselves thereafter. The return trip seemed to be a survival exercise; I was thankful that our Captain was brave and skillful. As we sped toward the numerous boats violently whipping the river into a frenzy it was as if we were traveling across the virgin desert in a large dunebuggy. Thankful that the boat was strong enough to withstand the contest, though Bob seemed a bit battered when we landed at the Jaussaud’s landing.
After resting a while and Bob having recovered, Ding, Allan, Bob and I decided to visit the Needles Museum just across the river from their place but no one was there to let us in. So, after driving around seeing the town that economic times has changed drastically we returned to the bunkhouse. Then the Jaussaud’s embarrassed me again. They called Cheryl Mangin, the woman who is the matriarch of the Museum, and invited her to come to our pot luck dinner that night even though it was her day off. Sue said she planned to impose on Cheryl to open the museum on Sunday just for us. Cheryl came to our dinner and appeared to be enthused (She might have been feigning it). They all laughed and carried on and Sue got Cheryl to agree to open just for us on Sunday.
Ding and Allan had to leave early the next morning but Ruth and I and Bob and Sue did go to the museum. After all, we had imposed on beautiful Cheryl. I do have to admit it was a very worthwhile visit. Anyone traveling to Needles will be rewarded to go there. There are many wonders there and many great historical artifacts. The Jaussaud’s have donated many items that are there to enjoy, including a large operating Erector Set Ferris Wheel (assembled by Captain Bob).
Holiday Fiesta at Ding and Allan Wicker’s House!
I t’s possible you had an excuse for not making the Desert Explorers holiday gathering at the home of Ding and Allan Wicker, but it couldn’t have been a very good one. You must plan better next year. The folks who did make it were treated to great food, happy people, a festive day and some twisted fun with the “bring a gift, get a gift, steal a gift” game.
We kicked the gathering off with the shortest DE meeting on record, less than 25 minutes! There were wonderful dishes, savory, sweet, local, international, hot, cold and in-between. Nobody went hungry and everybody found things to satisfy their cravings.
Regardless of folks’ backgrounds or traditions, it is always a wonderful way to wrap up the year. Warm greetings, friendly faces, good food and a wacky game to loosen things up made this a wonderful afternoon.
Who was there? Bob Jacoby, Bob and Sue Jaussaud, Nan Healy, Jean and Sunny Hansen, Julie and Bill Smith, Kate Fosselman and Steve Jarvis, Neal and Marian Johns, Ruth and Emmett Harder, Bobby Sanchez and Daniel Dick, Jim Watson and his sweetheart Linda, Ann Yibing Bai, Marie and Nelson Miller, Ellen Miller, Dave McFarland, Axel Heller, Jay Lawrence, Bruce Bartlett, Dolly and Jerry Dupree, Nancy Maclean and Ron Ross, Vicki Hill, Genmarie Wentworth, and our hosts Ding and Allan Wicker.
Thank you Ding and Allan for having us again this year. It was big fun!
Click Read More for photos
Hiking in the Calico Mountains
Odessa Canyon and the Doran Scenic Loop
Text & photos by Danny Siler
I n January 2015 Nelson Miller led a four-wheel drive trip to the Calico Mountains. At our lunch stop atop the rim of a canyon, he pointed down and announced “that’s Odessa Canyon down there!” It was deep and narrow - my kind of place. Ever since then I’ve wanted to hike through there. It was easy to find on a topo map and finally I got my wish.
The Calico Mountains are well known for all the colors, shades of colors and blends of colors; vermilion, copper green, orange, brown, saffron yellow, maroon, and violet. And much geologic fascination from fault lines, folding, slate and schist.
After mining ceased, Odessa Canyon was joined with the former Bismarck Canyon and renamed Doran Scenic Loop after a county supervisor in the 1930s. The massive Bismarck site is located on this route. This is home to at least a hundred adits, mine shafts and glory holes. With rappelling gear one could go all the way down into the bottom of a shaft.
Wildlife I encountered along the trail were lizards, a hawk, jack rabbit, a couple of desert rats, and one dead tarantula; but no snakes. Occasionally I saw some animal tracks and I believe they were coyote.
Being out there in the desert with no other humans provides solitude and the ability to imagine how the early miners, explorers, and settlers would have endured living and working in this environment. I enjoyed being out of the car and traveling on foot - close to nature, the dirt, all the sizes and shapes of colorful rocks, and the sound of the crunch underfoot.
ATV tracks abound at the bottom of the canyon but I don’t understand how they do it. This was definitely the most rugged canyon floor I’ve ever seen. But no foot steps. I was here mid-week and had the mountains to myself. On a weekend I could envision more folks coming to Calico for camping, off-road driving, and target shooting for the gun enthusiasts.
On foot, once I left the car, I hiked the loop, stopped at many mines, explored side canyons, and was back to my car in about four hours.
Odessa Canyon begins at Calico Road about halfway between the Ghost Town and Mule Canyon Rd. Drive the car about a half-mile in, park, and get out and start walking.
I think a topo map is helpful. About three years ago the U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) made all their topo maps available free on the internet. I like caltopo.com. I can zoom in-or-out; create a pdf with latitude and longitude, and print on 8 1/2” by 11” paper. Carrying a hand-held GPS device is nice also.
For an encore I returned late in the afternoon, drove my car uphill on an ATV track as far as I could and hiked to the top of a hill. From this vantage point I had 180 degree view of all the Calico Mountains. The sun set behind me which turns everything golden and cast long shadows for what my wife Norma calls “magic hour.”
I stayed overnight at the Oak Tree Inn in Yermo and enjoyed dinner at Peggie Sue’s diner. ~ Danny
Desert Explorers Meeting Minutes
Saturday, October 2, 2017
Attending Bob Jacoby (Chair), Alan and Ding Wicker, Dave McFarland, Barbara Midlikowski, Neal and Marian Johns, Emmett and Ruth Harder, Nelson Miller, Bobbie Sanchez and Daniel Dick, Bill and Julie Smith, Mal Roode, Terry and Eileen Ogden.
Regrets Nan Healy and Jay Lawrence.
Minutes Accepted as published.
Treasurer Bill Smith provided the Treasurer’s Report. He announced that the DE cash balance is $4,572. We have 86 paid members and there have been two new members since the last meeting. There have been no expenditures since the last meeting. Bob Jacoby noted that a check needs to be written for $425 as a security deposit for renting the 2018 Rondy facilities. The check will not be cashed and will be returned to us at the end of the Rondy. Bill also indicated that it may be better to have new and renewing members make just one payment to cover the DE newsletter dues and the annual membership for MRVM. He will investigate this possibility with MRVM.
Newsletter Bob Jacoby gave Jay Lawrence’s report. Jay reports the monthly newsletter is functioning fine. There is a need for backup and we always need more input from our membership each month. This can be trip reports, tech reports, etc.
2018 Rendezvous Bob Jacoby and Jerry Dupree gave an update on Rondy planning. The dates in Ridgecrest are April 6-8. We will be utilizing the facilities at the Fairgrounds in Ridgecrest. Full hookups, tent camping and nearby motels will be available. We arranged for a caterer, and a Saturday evening guest speaker. We hope to have petroglyph tours conducted by the museum on both Saturday and Sunday. We will need volunteer leaders for other trips on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Website There was no report as Debbie was unable to attend.
Museum Barbara Midlikowski gave an update on some activities regarding the museum. She will take items to the upcoming Museum rummage sale. She also discussed the Death Valley 49ers annual Rendezvous coming up soon. She indicted the national park has cut back on their maintenance program and many campgrounds are closed. Also, the Furnace Creek remodel is still going on.
Trip Schedule Several upcoming trips, scheduled and unscheduled, were discussed:
New Business: The next meeting will be in conjunction with the annual Christmas party and will be on December 16th at the Wicker’s in Claremont.
By Deb Miller Marschke
In July 2017, I attended “Old Fort MacArthur Days” which is a multi-disciplined living history event. It’s held annually on the grounds of Fort MacArthur in the city of San Pedro. Each era that is represented here has a section of the grounds, and the re-enactors set up a “period” camp. The part I enjoy the most are the costumes. The re-enactors wear period attire which is as accurate as possible, and these folks wander about. For those that truly enjoy history, this event is like a really weird dream; you are walking around in your street clothes amongst the Romans, Vikings, Yankee soldiers, pirates, and Victorian ladies.
Making costumes has been one of my most favorite hobbies since I was a kid. I enjoy the challenge of conceptualizing my ideas, constructing the outfit, and the pleasure of wearing the finished costume. So as I floated dreamily around Old Fort MacArthur days, the urge to make a costume for next year grasped me. I found myself in one of the exhibitor’s canvas tent, which was set up as a general store. There were historically accurate patterns for sale, so many choices. I needed to decide what era I was going to work in, so I began to think about famous women throughout history. I decided that it would be fun to depict Olive Oatman, and I purchased a historically accurate pattern for a Victorian era bodice and skirt. I also purchased a lace parasol and a straw bonnet.
I chose Olive Oatman because her haunting photographs stood out in my mind. I only knew the basics of her story: she was on the emigrant trail, had been captured by Indians, and had lived amongst them long enough to receive a disfiguring tattoo on her chin. So before I made the costume, I needed to learn more about her story. There are a few books about her, the most well-known is also the first book, written by Royal Stratton. Stratton was a minister, and he stepped forward to shelter and protect her as she reintegrated into society. I chose to read “The Blue Tattoo, The Life of Olive Oatman” by Margot Mifflin first. This book was first released in 2009, so I thought it would be a good choice if I wanted to know Olive’s life story.
The book was excellent. Not only did the author provide every detail that is currently known about Olive’s life, she also provided information about the history of the era and what lead up to her ordeal. Therefore, Olive’s story can be more broadly understood. The material is well researched and fully annotated. Though I found the first chapters slightly tedious, my interest and fascination with Olive’s story was complete by the time I finished the book. This is not simply a story about a woman who was captured and rescued in the “old west.” This is a story about a young girl, raised under the heavy restrictions of the Mormon religion and the Victorian society. In 1850, this 13 year old blindly and faithfully embarked with her family of 9 on a journey to an unknown land, following her parents utopian ideals. The entire endeavor was doomed from the beginning because of misguided religious zealotry and misinformation about the region they sought to establish their new life. She witnessed the violent murder of her family, she and her sister Mary Ann were captured, and forced to walk barefoot for three days at a brisk pace (according to Stratton, they walked 200 miles). They were enslaved by Yavapai Apaches for about a year. The two girls were purchased from her captors by the Mojaves, walked another 350 miles (per Stratton), and arrived on the banks of the Colorado River near present day Needles, CA. At this juncture, Olive’s story becomes a mystery that author Margot Mifflin has sought to understand in her book. Though the book written by Stratton portrays her assimilation into the Mojave tribe as a tale of slavery and brutality, Mifflin has research to prove otherwise. Olive possibly enjoyed life as a Native American with social freedoms she would have been denied with the Whites, despite the crude conditions. During a regional famine, Mary Ann died of starvation and Olive’s ordeal was hers alone. She believed her entire family had perished. She had no idea where she was and where the nearest white people could be found. At this time in history, the Mojave tribes were fairly isolated from outsiders. Olive became fully assimilated into the Mojave tribe, and lived for 5 years as a Mojave. She had no way of knowing that her brother, Lorenzo, had also survived the attack. Lorenzo, orphaned at age 14, had been struggling alone during Olive’s ordeal to find the means to locate and rescue his sisters. She was reunited with Lorenzo at Fort Yuma. One would think this was a happy ending for the two Oatman children, but in actuality it was an entire new subset of problems and difficulties for them to endure. Olive was an instant celebrity, but reintegrating into society was complicated for her. She was marked with the facial tattoo and therefore the curious public treated her like a circus freak. It was assumed that she had sexual contact with her captors and no longer a virgin. Rumors abounded that she had abandoned half breed children. She had no money, no means of financial support, her future prospects for marriage were bleak, and no relatives stepped forward to shepherd the vulnerable young woman as she entered society as an adult. At age 19, she was close to being considered an unmarried “Old Maid.” Olive and Lorenzo continued to be victims because the minister who “rescued” them manipulated and exploited them. Royal B. Stratton put his evangelical career on hold under the auspice of benevolence, but it appears his motives were monetary; he generated a steady income by herding Olive and Lorenzo around on a lecture circuit and promoting his book. Stratton benefited by selling 30,000 copies of his book which was rife with sensationalism. Yet, both surviving children managed to achieve a “normal” life by breaking free from Stratton, getting married and slipping quietly into traditional societal roles until their natural death. It was rumored that she died in an insane asylum in New York in 1877, but she actually died of a heart attack on March 20, 1903 and is buried in Sherman, Texas. It seems that Olive started out as one of the West’s great heroines, but her life story has slipped into obscurity. The entire tale is quite remarkable. Given the social mores for a single woman in the 1850’s, her survival of this ongoing ordeal is absolutely astonishing.
After reading this book, I became obsessed with Olive Oatman. I was energized in knowing her story, and set to work on making my costume. The pattern I had purchased was an exact replica of the era. I am an experienced seamstress, but I found the garment challenging to construct. Learning about how these dresses during the 1850-1865 time era was an invaluable experience for me. Despite the fact that clothing in this era was painstakingly handmade, I found that the Victorian dress was more well-constructed than present-day clothing. The costume consisted of two pieces: a bodice and a skirt. The pieces were fully lined, so essentially I made two outfits melded into one. I purchased 8 yards of broadcloth, 6.5 yards of muslin, and 16 yards of trim braid. I chose these fabrics because they were affordable, so had I opted for authenticity, the dress would have been made of silk. Silk is $15.00 per yard! The bodice also contained boning as a support and stiffener. My husband Steve and I have fun discussing the boning, because if the dress was authentic, I would need to acquire strips of whale baleen. Though Steve’s suggestion to use plastic zip-ties he had bought from Harbor Freight was considered, I did purchase prefabricated boning (now called “stays”) from the yardage store. As the garments were constructed, I made the decision to deviate from authenticity so the final outfit would be more comfortable to wear. Nevertheless, I learned a tremendous lesson by working on this outfit and I will enjoy scrutinizing authentic historical garments in the future. I worked on the dress in my spare time over 10 days. I used a modern sewing machine, but much of the finish work needed to sewn by hand.
On October 6, 2017, I arrived at Goffs, CA to attend the MDHCA annual Rendezvous. It was here I planned to “become Olive” and walk around in the costume. This was a total surprise for the attendees of the event, as I had not discussed my plan with anyone. Initially I intended to wear the Oatman dress in 2018 at Old Fort MacArthur days. However, I also considered that the crowd at MDHCA would recognize the character and appreciate my effort as well. I was fortunate to acquire a clip-in hair piece that matched my hair color; for only $12.00, I instantly had longer hair styled in beautiful ringlets. All I needed was Olive’s tattoo. Olive’s chin tattoo was blue; the Mojaves used a cactus needle and powdered rock to tattoo their faces. Had I not been scheduled to travel on business the following week (and meet the company Vice President), I had considered using a Sharpie marker. I needed to use something that would come completely off after the weekend! I had experimented with waterproof eye pencils, which proved to work adequately. I put on the historical garment, fashioned my hair, marked my chin, and became Olive Oatman.
As I ambled around at Goffs and told Olive’s story, my education continued. It was 90 degrees that weekend. The dress was restrictive and hot in some respects, but some features of the dress were airy and loose. It required a certain level of commitment to wear the costume in the heat, but when folks commented on this I would joke, “I am suffering for my art.” I actually enjoyed this exercise, for it promoted thinking and learning more about what it was like to live in this era, and what it may have been like to be Olive Oatman. Ultimately, I was asked to give an impromptu presentation about the Oatman story. Though I had not planned on speaking in front of a crowd, I was amongst friends. I enjoyed the chance to add one more item to my personal resume: I am now a history re-enactor!
Currently, my strange obsession with Olive Oatman continues. I’ve continually learned more about her. I just finished reading the original account of her captivity by the minister Royal B. Stratton. I found it difficult to read because of the 1890’s “melodramatic” writing style. Nevertheless, I believe it’s important to study this work to understand how the Oatman children were exploited. Someday, I would like to read the transcripts of her first interviews when she arrived at Fort Yuma. Maybe someday I will travel to the Oatman family massacre site in Arizona, or take the time to visit her grave next time I am in Texas. I will be looking for Olive as I continually explore our beloved Mojave. But for today, I am keeping her story alive by telling it. Naturally, I wholeheartedly recommend the book “The Blue Tattoo” by Mifflin. It’s reasonably priced on Amazon. Perhaps you will be as intrigued by this story as I have been; maybe not as obsessed as I have become, but we can discuss her story further and perpetuate the momentum of this educational experience. ~Deb
Explore Nevada Trip Report
October 23-27, 2017
Leaders: Bob & Sue Jaussaud
Photos: Sue, Mignon, Glenn & Nelson
Oh noooo…! From the rear view mirrors, we could see billows of smoke pouring out the back of our truck as we climbed the grade into Boulder City. Not a good thing! I hastily pulled over onto the shoulder and stopped. There was so much smoke everywhere, the truck must be on fire! I grabbed the fire extinguisher, but luckily with the engine off the smoke slowly started to dissipate. However, oil was still running out underneath the truck and a large pool formed quickly. Something major must have blown!
Sue called for a tow truck. Finally getting through to the Auto Club help line, she was informed it would be 45 minutes before someone could arrive to assist us. Time to think. First, we texted the others on the trip to let them know they were currently leaderless. Then we analyzed the situation. It was definitely transmission oil pooling on the ground and it was leaking out from the radiator area. Could it be that a transmission oil line to the transmission cooler on the radiator had broken? Being on a grade, we were able to roll the truck back off the pool of oil and I crawled under to remove the skid plate. Yes! A clamp had worked loose and an oil line had come apart. It was an easy fix. By the time the tow truck arrived we were repaired, except for no transmission fluid in the transmission. John, the very friendly tow truck operator, said the easiest thing to do would be to load our truck on his vehicle and he would take us to an auto parts store to get oil. In Boulder City, he off loaded us at the store and stayed with us until we had refilled the transmission and tested the truck. Everything was good and we were on our way. Happy days!
The truck ran fine and we were able to make up some lost time, getting to our group rendezvous at Goldfield a mere 15 minutes late. Nelson and Ellen, Ron, Mignon, Jim, and Glenn were waiting for us. Our host, John Ekman, President of the Goldfield Historical Society,was there also. John had arranged for the local photographer, Jeri, to escort us on a tour of the historic Goldfield Hotel. A unique opportunity. The hotel is under renovation and scheduled to be reopened in two years. Currently it is only inhabited by its infamous ghosts. Jeri alerted our senses with many stories of paranormal happenings. Time to leave!
Back in the sunshine, we explored a bit to find the “International Car Forest of the Last Church”, a conglomeration of weird car sculptures painted with weirder symbols. Leaving the weirdness behind, it was good to find a smiling face at the Goldfield Radio Museum. Our host,“P.K.,” was fun and friendly. Reluctantly leaving P.K. and Goldfield, we gassed up in Tonopah and headed to Belmont, our camp spot for the first of several cold nights.
Tuesday morning we departed for the Toiyabe Mountains where we took a short hike to the Toquima Mine. We found historic buildings, an old tractor and an impressive kiln beautifully built into a cabin wall. Back at the vehicles, we continued our drive up the mountain in search of the old 1920’s mining camp of Van Ness. Mercury was the primary product at Van Ness, which operated sporadically into the 1940’s. There are several buildings still standing there. From Van Ness, we continued up the mountain to the remains of Barcelona, a silver camp dating from 1874. At one time Barcelona had 175 miners, three boarding houses and an assay office. From Barcelona, our steep rocky road climbed over a 9000 foot pass and down to the remains of the San Pedro Mine and then Flowers Camp, where the road finally improved.
After descending to Monitor Valley, we turned south instead of north, as planned. It seems that when Sue and I had texted that we might not make it due to a smoking truck, the leadership void had been quickly filled and the new leaders’ itinerary was considered preferable to the original. On a previous trip, Glenn and Mignon had discovered a mill in the Kawich Range that everyone wanted to see. A bloodless coup! We were going to drive over Manhattan Pass, so as to camp at Peavine. That would enable us to gas up again in Tonopah the next morning before heading east to the Kawich Mountains.
It was a very cold, but beautiful, night at Peavine with Fall colors and a cozy campﬁre. Next morning, everyone was in such good spirits that I was able to persuade them we should explore a few more items on the original agenda before heading east. So, we detoured into the San Antonio Mountains to find the Cimarron Mine and the townsite of Potomic. The Cimarron was well worth the effort, but when we arrived at Potomic, we realized that we had been there before with Bill Gossett. We made a hasty drive back to Tonopah for gas before heading to the Kawich Mountains.
It is strikingly beautiful driving through the loneliness of Nevada. Descending into Reveille Valley, we arrived at Warm Springs and were treated to the sight of at least ten Desert Bighorn grazing near the springs. Leaving the sheep well photographed, we turned south on a dirt road paralleling the east side of the Kawich Mountains. After a lot of dust, we arrived at the first Reveille Mill site complete with a large pond and many gold fish. This mill was a long ways from any mine, but the abundance of water may have been the explanation for the location. Turning west into the setting sun, Glenn led us to the considerable remains of Eden Creek Ranch, where we camped for the night.
Thursday morning we started into the Kawich Mountains. Approaching the mouth of a canyon, Glenn showed us the remains of the Old Reveille Mill site. After a brief stop, we continued driving west and deeper into the canyon. We encountered water and a lot of vegetation, but the road had been recently graded and it was easy going. When it seemed we were reaching the end of the canyon, the mill suddenly came into sight. It was so incongruous to find such a large mill in such a remote setting, but there it was! It was at least four stories high. As we climbed the stairs to the top, we saw the drive wheels and engines still in place. What a find! From the mill, Ron and I wandered up the canyon and discovered the historic townsite of Eden. There were several cabins in various stages of decay, some almost hidden in the lush growth. Nelson continued driving to the end of the road and reported finding heavy equipment at an operational mine site, thus the reason for the graded road.
Ron, Jim, Sue and I realized that it would be difficult to top finding Eden and the mill. As the weather was predicted to get a lot colder, we decided to turn toward home. Glenn, Mignon, Nelson and Ellen stayed to explore another day. I hope they stayed warm and found another Eden. ~Bob
Explore Nevada Trip Report - Part II
Story and photos by Mignon Slentz
The internet conspired to waylay this part of last month’s Nevada trip report by Mignon... She perservered:
The group split up at Eden Creek Mill site, leaving Glenn, Mignon, Nelson and Ellen to cross Reveille Valley into the Reveille Mtns to look for the mining camp of Reveille. Silver was discovered in 1866 and the camp was active until 1875. We Camped overnight on top of a mine dump at Tybo. Silver ore was discovered there in 1870 and by 1875 had a peak population of over one thousand people. There were several boom and bust cycles up to 1944. We visited the very well preserved charcoal kilns, the old store, mill sites and cemetery. We said goodbye to Nelson and Ellen in Tonopah and continued on to Bullfrog where we camped at the red barn. It was Beatty Days and tours were being conducted at Rhyolite. We were the third group to see inside the train depot in 18 years. ~ Mignon
Desert Explorers Meeting Minutes
Saturday, September 9, 2017
Attending Mal Roode, Daniel Dick & Bobby Sanchez, Ruth & Emmett Harder, Ding & Allan Wicker, Marian & Neal Johns, Dolly & Jerry Dupree, Julie & Bill Smith, Lindsay Woods, Tracy Woods, Vicki Hill, Eileen & Terry Ogden, Dave Burdick, Brett Henrich, Nelson Miller, Sue & Bob Jaussaud.
Start 11:40 a.m.
Remembering Jerry Harada Everybody had a few words to say about what a great person Jerry was and how he╒ll be missed. Words describing him and his manner included: capable, outgoing, funny, always made you comfortable, loved to cook, how he loved to share places and trips, made sure the elders on his trips had a comfortable bedroom to stay in. Folks remembered the great trips and great times he led that centered around his house in Chloride. He left some big shoes to fill.
Bob Jacoby Apologized in advanced for impaired hearing while manning the Chair. He is being fitted with some new state-of-the-art units and hopes to be back in the conversation soon. Go Bob!
Regrets Deb Miller-Marschke, Steve Jarvis & Kate Fosselman, Ken Hemkin, Nan Healy
Minutes Accepted as published
Treasurer Bill Smith reported all good on the money front. Current funds $4,435.12, up a bit over $9 from last month after subscription income and donation to museum expense.
2018 Rendezvous Bob Jacoby and Jerry Dupree visited Ridgecrest, met with representatives of the Chamber of Commerce and visited the fairground facility where we will have our upcoming Rondy in April. Meeting place is large, ours from Friday afternoon through Sunday afternoon. There is tent camping and RV hookup camping on-site with showers and heads. Motels are a mile or less away for non-campers. Catering will be by Casey's Barbecue, featuring tri-tip, chicken, vegetarian and pork. Price points were discussed, seemed reasonable and Bob was given the go ahead to negotiate a contract to lock things up.
There are a boatload of trips in the area as well as great opportunities for inbound and outbound trips. We will be arranging trips on both Saturday and Sunday to Little Petroglyph Canyon on the China Lake Naval Weapons Center base through Sandy Rogers from the Maturango Museum in Ridgecrest. He will also be our Saturday night after-dinner speaker. Trips mentioned include the Panamints area, Trona Pinnacles, Fossil Falls and Death Valley spots. Dates are April 6-8, the weekend after Easter.
Website Deb reported in absentia that the site was up-to-date with the exception of our most recent newsletter materials, which will be plugged in this weekend.
Museum Nelson Miller reported that the museum will be having their Mini BBQ on September 26th. Food will be from the same caterer as the big BBQ and it is great. There was some light discussion on the possibility about being able to take museum membership dollars on PayPal alongside our subscriptions so it would be a one touch operation. Bill Smith will check it out with Pat Schofstall at the MVRM.
MVRM Work Party Nelson proposed a museum work party Saturday, Black Mountain area trip Sunday with an overnight at Paradise Springs weekend trip. Possibly January He will check it out with the museum and Cliff Walker.
OSPA The Old Spanish Trail Association is coming up October 5-8. 18 guest speakers (including Nelson), access to the Daggett Museum which has been closed for years, Sunday field trip to primary Old Spanish Trail sites. Early sign ups included museum members and DE subscribers Glenn Shaw, Nelson Miller, Cliff Walker and Craig Baker. Emmett Harder has been asked to reprise his role as Death Valley Scotty.
Trips We started with two on the calendar from Bob & Sue Jaussaud and several in the planning stages. This quickly escalated.
>NW Clark Mountains to Spring Mountains, September 19-21. Exploratory, will include locating backcountry cabins, mines and rock art.
> Nevada exploratory Bob & Sue Jaussaud. Trail out of Belmont (near Tonopah) overland to Barcelona. Will include ranch cabins, some pretty serious 4WD and old townsites. October 23-27.
> Hastings Cutoff Bill Powell moved his trip date Spring 2018.
> Black Mountains Nelson Miller will lead Sunday trip combined with Saturday museum work party and overnight at Paradise Springs. January 2018
>Lucerne area focused on the north face of the San Bernardino Mountains. Nelson Miller, November 4th.
>Lucerne Valley Rocket Launch Nelson will lead a group out to the big rocket launch November 11th.
>Mirian to Borate Dave Burdick
suggested this trip with notes from an old MVRM trip. Will likely start in Daggett where the old 20 Mule Team wagons are on display. Nelson Miller and Dave Burdick will co-lead the trip. December 2nd is the proposed date.
>Overland Trail Jerry Dupree will lead trip along the old stage line from Salton Sea to Julian. March 2018.
>Route 66 original alignments. Brett Henrich loved the trip led by Joe De Kehoe and wanted to expand on it. Bob Jacoby will put this together and lead it in Spring 2018. Four day trip will go from the New Mexico border to Victoviller in segments so people can join for all or part of the trip.
>Tour of Death Valley Brett also suggested a trip in Death Valley. Emmett Harder and Matt Jones could/would co-lead sometime February/March 2018. Could include the racetrack, Ubehebe Crater, Skiddoo, Old Woman Springs. Planning will begin, details to follow.
>Butte Valley and Emmett's cabin area. Emmett Harder. Possible second trip to this area of Death Valley. Early 2018 due to heat in Spring.
Newsletter Newsletter is in great shape. Jay reported on deep conversations with high level tech support experts at his ISP who explained that the Yahoo hack and security breach a while back has all the internet providers re-writing their email software for better function and privacy. The takeaway is that email from all providers has been and will be a little flaky for some time, like the next six months. We will be breaking our email mass mailings into smaller chunks to make them more digestible to the providers who are currently having indigestion. Like AT&T and socal.rr.net. We have also established a DropBox folder with ALL of the 2017 newsletters available for instant download for anyone who is having trouble receiving the email mass mailing. We tried it out this month and it works as advertised. And it's free.
New business Mitchell Caverns reopens the first weekend of November after many years of closure. Campground and cavern tours will be up and running.
Next Meeting October 28th at Ding & Allan Wicker's house. Several requests for costumes and/or masks in honor of Halloween.
Adjourned 12:50 p.m.
Grand Canyon (South Rim Area)
DE member Joey Anderson has graciously offered to let us poach items from his excellent website at andersonoverland.com and we have taken him up on his offer. Take a look when you have a chance. It is loaded with great trip writeups and outstanding photos.
So when your parents say they want your little one to come stay with them for a few days before the school year starts, you pack the truck! Date trip!!! With four days to get away we decided to head to the Grand Canyon south rim. We had been to the south rim in May but it was a quick stop. The park is always fun to check out but we really wanted to find some dirt trails and hopefully find a cool rim spot to camp. Sadly, no such luck. Every trail we went down either ended in a locked gate or just simply came to an end in the middle of nowhere. Super spotty cell signal, which didn't help. Thankfully, there is a ton of dispersed camping in the area and we found several great spots. We did have a very large elk walk down into our camp the last night, which was pretty sweet. Luna our guard dog, (lol) didn╒t know what to think of him. We had planned to do some product review videos but sadly the weather was not on our side. We did have some pretty bad wind from sun up to sun down. Oh well. Just go with it, I guess. Probably my favorite part of the trip was grabbing a spot along the rim to catch the sunset. EPIC! It was a quick but great trip. We hope to check out the other areas of Grand Canyon soon, including maybe a trip to camp in the bottom of the canyon. Any trip is a great trip. You can╒t go wrong with some fresh air and good company. Love my man and our adventures together. And yes, it was so good to pick up our little one and hug her tight when we got home.
Love and live life to the fullest,