Rendezvous 2005 at The Lone Wolf Colony RV Park , Apple Valley CA
(No write ups were submitted, but don't miss the photo gallery.)
Rendezvous Retrospective - Amboy
by Allan Wicker
It was cool and windy when I left Claremont Thursday morning of the Rendezvous weekend. I called ahead to let Bob and Nancy Dodds I’d be later than our appointed time to load tables from the Mojave River Valley Museum into the Dodds’ truck to be transported to the Amboy Rendezvous site. By the time I arrived, all but two of the tables were sitting in the truck. It was cold and windy in Barstow as well.
Bob said that there had been an accident east of Barstow on I-40, so we would need to take old Highway 66. Our caravan to Amboy included Bob and Nancy in separate vehicles, with their truck and a trailer loaded with a generator, electrical cords, and other supplies. They also pulled their camp trailer.
From Highway 66 we could see the backup of vehicles stopped on I-40. An ambulance streaked toward Barstow. We later learned that two people died in a multi-vehicle crash apparently caused by blowing sand. Much of the I-40 traffic was diverted to Route 66, but it kept moving—for a while. After we had passed by the spot, a second crash on 66 caused it to be closed as well.
I learned of the secondary stoppage in a cell phone conversation with Jean and Sunny Hansen, who were some miles behind us on 66. They were pulling a trailer, and had to retrace their route, then drive north to catch I-15, exit on Kelbaker Road, and then come back south to Amboy. An extra 90 or so miles.
When we arrived at the Amboy site, the wind was still blowing. Don Sweinhart, who was already there, reported seeing one of the plate glass windows in the motel lobby blow out. We unloaded the tables and with the help of Shirley Bolin and the Hansens, who arrived at mid-afternoon, began sweeping, dusting, and arranging furniture in the rooms in the motel office that we would use. We were interrupted occasionally by dozens of honey bees who seemed attracted by our presence. Bob put up a sign he had made to announce that our camping area was for Desert Explorers only.
The concrete patio east of the motel office offered shade and protection from the wind, so we established that as the site of our potluck and dinner.
Vehicles continued to arrive. The wind had died down a bit, so I pitched my tent. The evening entertainment included watching one of the Amboy employees climb nearly to the top of the antenna tower at the site to make a repair of some kind. Among the arrivals were Bob & Sue Jaussaud and Toby, who were warmly greeted. It was very good to have them back among us.
I spent Thursday night in the Ludlow motel, leaving my tent set up to help mark the tent camping area. The next morning, at the Ludlow meeting point for the Jaussauds’ incoming trip, Don Sweinhart told me that during the night the wind had nearly dismantled the tent, so he lowered it to the ground, for which I was very grateful.
The Jaussaud trip from Ludlow to Amboy exceeded even their high standard. I won’t describe it here, in the expectation that photos and a report will tell that story. The wind was not a problem by this time.
Upon our arrival at Amboy on Friday afternoon, we found that Alan Romspert had already set up the silent auction tables in the rooms of the hotel office adjoining the patio with help from sidekick Allan Schoenherr. The other incoming trip group, led by Dave Given, pulled in and reported having had a fine time. My good wife Ding, traveling with Nan Savage, arrived shortly after.
David Roan, the BLM official with whom Debbie Miller worked to secure a permit for our event, dropped by Friday evening to meet some of the participants and assure that everything was in order. Happily it was.
No one at the Friday potluck left hungry, and the weather was near-perfect. The only thing to mar the event was a fall by Associate Trip Coordinator Mal Roode, which left him with a painful right arm. We later learned that he suffered a fractured bone in his arm. Mal and Jean left the Rondy prematurely on Friday night so he could have the injury attended to.
Vehicles continued to arrive into Friday night, swelling the number of vehicles to perhaps 50 and persons to around 100.
Saturday morning was clear and without wind, perfect for the trips led by the 2 Al(l)ans, Dave Given, and Bob and Nancy Dodds. Jim & Kit Neeld and their three charming children arrived in time to join a trip after their 5 a.m. departure from home. The kids were even smiling when they drove up. Trip reports and photos will tell the stories of these outings, all of which were highly successful and without negative incident.
Our caterer, Lisa Hill, and staff from The Rib Company in Twentynine Palms, arrived at the appointed hour Saturday afternoon and served a delicious and generous dinner of barbequed ribs, chicken, beans, and coleslaw. We will happily give Lisa and her crew the highest recommendation to anyone who should ask.
Next came the program, Memories of the Trail, a.k.a. Get Neal. The roast of Neal Johns began with emcee Ken Sears presenting the aging aridologist with a Top Gun cap donated by Bob and Sue Jaussaud. About a dozen victims of Neal’s barbs spoke in retaliation and occasionally in appreciation. Jay Lawrence translated some Neal’s trail descriptions into more accurate language. Debbie Miller presented a group participation song. Nan Savage put Neal’s antics in a mythological context: he plays the role of a Trickster. Sylvia Lawrence spun a tale that had Neal on his back with his legs up. Emmett Harder took two turns; he was so funny most of us wished he would do another encore. Mary Hughes had nothing good (or bad) to say about Neal, but said it anyway. After others had contributed stories, Marian Johns (“She who must be obeyed”) admitted in a moment of candor that Neal was not her first love, nor she, his.
To conclude the program, on behalf of the Desert Explorers I presented Neal and Marian with a “dinner out” in appreciation of their contributions to our amusement. The dinner included two unopened cans of soup complete with their original labels, cans of Mountain Dew and Diet Coke, plastic champagne glasses to drink it from, three pouches of dog food for whichever Husky they happen to take on the outing, and reading material to cap off their evening. Neal was given the book, Listening and Caring: A Guide for Groups and Leaders. Marian’s book was Women Who Love Too Much: When You Keep Wishing and Hoping He’ll Change.
Even new members who have not yet been provoked by Neal seemed to enjoy the program.
The organized events ended with final bidding at the silent auction. Thanks to Alan’s fine organization and the generous donations of many members, including some who contributed their own original art and craft work, we made nearly $800 to help sustain worthy causes.
Saturday night provided some tent-flapping winds to modulate the sounds of the trains that frequently pass by Amboy. But the morning was again clear, and the two announced trips, lead by Neal and Marian Johns and by Debbie Miller and Steve Marschke, departed as scheduled (see their separate accounts). After taking a tour of the motel office building and grounds with the caretakers Danny and Larry to assure all was in order, Ding and I headed back to Claremont in time to attend an afternoon talk by former President Bill Clinton.
By all accounts that I have heard, this year’s Rendezvous a successful event—some said one of the best. The success is partly attributable to fortunate breaks in the weather, but mainly to major contributions of several individuals, and supportive actions of many others. Jean Hansen was the chief organizer of the Rendezvous, carrying out numerous tasks even as she was working full time. Her lunch hours and breaks were often devoted to making calls and running errands on our behalf. Jean and Sunny deserve the gratitude of all who attended. Alan Romspert again showed he knows how to run a successful silent auction. Earlier inspection trips to the Amboy site were made by Sunny & Jean Hansen, Dave Given, Bob & Nancy Dodds, and others. The Dodds, Emmett and Ruth Harder, and Alan Romspert furnished and transported needed equipment of various types. Marilyn Martin and Debbie Miller provided publicity via the Newsletter and website, respectively, and Debbie secured permissions with the BLM. Desert Tailings, the newsletter of the Mojave River Valley Museum, our parent organization, also promoted the Rondy, thanks to MayBelle Lipking and the other editors, Cliff Walker, Steve Smith, and Pat Schoffstall. Ken Sears was the right man at the right time to emcee the Saturday program, and he aided in negotiations with vendors. Neal Johns endured paybacks in relative silence and (we presume) in relatively good humor—in spite of his vows of revenge. The trip leaders mentioned above allowed us to do what most came for—to explore the desert safely and in good company. Some leaders did double duty. Undoubtedly there are additional persons who deserve to be recognized; if you are one of them please consider yourself included in these acknowledgements.
I have sent a letter on behalf of the membership to Albert Okura, owner of Amboy, thanking him for letting us use the site.
As the above paragraphs suggest, our annual Rendezvous is a major undertaking requiring the coordinated efforts of numerous people. A by-product of these preparations has been closer ties and greater appreciation of fellow participants. The event itself provides an opportunity for us to encounter a substantial proportion of the membership, some whom we have only just met and others whom we know well from previous trips. The Rendezvous is one of the things we do as a group, and it helps us define who we are.
Renezvous 2008 from the Eyes of Newbie
by Carl and Nancy Noah
We recently joined the Mojave River Valley Museum after hearing about the Desert Explorers from a friend. We've gone on a few outings with both the DE and MOE groups and had a great time on each trip. We've been impressed with the leaders' historical knowledge and enjoy the running commentaries over the CB. We're becoming more and more interested in the history of the places we visit, but aren't ambitious enough to do our own research. We really appreciate the leaders sharing thier knowledge and research with us. We definately want to be a part of these groups, so...when we heard about the 2008 Rendezvous, we fit it into our schedule. We really didn't know what to expect. We weren't at all sure what the "Creative Showcase" was all about, so we were particularily looking forward to this.
(click Read more to continue reading and view photos)
Brief Rendezvous Retrospective
Nipton, California - March 20 - 22, 2009
by Allan Wicker
The 2009 Desert Explorers Rendezvous in Nipton was a resounding success. All of the key components, including cooperative weather, came tog, her neatly to yield this result. There were ample opportunities for participants to meet and chat informally—and they did. Small groups formed and reformed around the Nipton town site when no events were scheduled. The two-part keynote talk (on the Mojave Outback Explorers and on the history of Mojave County, Arizona and beyond) by Dan Messersmith was both entertaining and informative. His brave strategy of inviting the audience to ask questions about the County assured that he would be addressing topics that interested us, including Mormon settlements and practices, mining, treatment of the native Americans, and early days in Kingman, AZ. Many thanks, Dan. Jerry Freeman’s talk and slide presentation on the history of Nipton was very well received by a standing-room-only group in Freeman Hall. The event was a re-christening (perhaps I should say re-dedication) of the newly renovated old school house building. Jerry’s carefully selected photos of Nipton through the years included several shots of silent film star Clara Bow and her beau, Rex Bell, frequent visitors to Nipton. The silent auction, flawlessly run by Alan Romspert, gave everyone a chance to enhance their reputations as collectors, and yielded several hundred dollars we can use for worthy causes. I heard nothing but favorable comments about the dinner catered by the Rib Company from Twentynine Palms. This was our second time to use Ron and Lisa’s services, and I’m confident we will do so again. The staff at the Nipton Trading Post pampered us in numerous ways. Fred, mounted on his “mule,” led people to their rented tent cabin, RV site, or hotel parking place, and provided numerous other services. Bobbie handled requests in the office cheerfully and adeptly. So far as I am aware, everything that the Nipton facility promised was delivered—including newly installed toilet facilities in Freeman Hall. Incoming trips led by Bob Jaussaud and by Deb Miller and Steve Marschke were outstanding (based on my own experience and what I heard from others), as were the Saturday day trips led by Bob Dodds, Neal Johns, and Sunny and Jean Hansen. Deb and Steve’s outgoing trip gave people an opportunity to see the nearby Kokoweef Mine and the delivery of some unpleasant weather (wind and hail) that had been forecast but that had held off until Sunday. Stay tuned for detailed reports on these trips. The contributions of many people were needed for all of this to come about. None was more important than the Big Kahuna from Bullhead City, Mary Hughes, and her sidekick, Charles. Mary and Charles embraced this opportunity to give something back to the Desert Explorers, and they excelled in the effort. A fuller list of the contributors and more on the Rondy will appear next month.
March 19 - 21, 2010
By Bob Jacoby
The Annual Desert Explorers’ Rendezvous was held on March 19-21 at Death Valley Junction. Death Valley Junction was formally the borax mining town of Amargosa and proved to be a unique and outstanding venue. A total of 64 members attended the Rendezvous and it appeared everyone had a great time.
The fun actually started on Friday morning in beautiful downtown Baker, California. Neal and Marian Johns led an outstanding inbound trip on portions of the old Mojave Heritage Trail through Kingston Wash and the Kingston Mountains. This was a very interesting and scenic trip that got folks in the mood for the fun packed weekend in store for them.
At Death Valley junction Friday evening a total of 64 participants arrived on the scene. The first order of business was a remarkable pot luck in the meeting room at the hotel. The food was varied and outstanding and may have out done any previous pot luck at a Rendezvous! Once everyone had a full stomach, the next order of business for many was to venture on over to the Opera House to view a film on Marta Becket. As everyone knows, Marta Becket has performed at the Opera House in Death Valley Junction for over 40 years. (She now performs once a week sitting down.) This outstanding and informative film covered the history of Marta’s involvement at the Opera House and was enjoyed by all.
Also on Friday night the action began for the Silent Auction in Room No. 10 at the hotel. Bids were made early for what appeared to be a record number of items for sale. This very successful event which produced nearly $700 in cash was organized by Nancy Dodds and Maybelle Lipking. We thank them both for a very successful auction!
Saturday morning, under clear and warm skies, folks were geared for some outstanding trips. Among those scheduled was a trip to the China Ranch Date Farm led by Mignon Stentz, a trip down Echo Canyon by lead by Neal and Marian Johns and Sunny and Jean Hansen, and a very rugged trip to Deadman Pass and Gold Valley led by Bob Dodds. There was something for everybody and it made for a great day in the Death Valley area.
After a day of historic and scenic trips, it was time for some more serious eating activity. The Saturday evening dinner was catered by Theresa Cantwell who is also the manager of the Amargosa Café. Theresa put together an outstanding dinner that everyone enjoyed. There were mass quantities of excellent food available and a hungry group of Desert Explorers took full advantage of that fact.
With their stomachs full, it was time for Rendezvous participants to take the short walk over to the Opera House to see the weekly mime show performed by ???????. This was a very entertaining show, interpreting with mime the various paintings by Marta Becket on the wall of the Opera House. Interspersed throughout the show are film clips of a recent interview she had with Marta. This very fine performance gave everyone a better understanding of Marta’s accomplishments throughout the years.
When Sunday morning rolled around, folks had an interesting choice. They could either head off with the Johns on a fun trip to Ash Meadows and Devil’s Hole or they could tag along with yours truly, sitting in for Emmett Harder, on a short hop over to Pahrump to visit Sheri’s Ranch, a very upscale brothel. This was a very difficult choice for some folks to make.
All in all, it was another very successful Rendezvous for the club. Everyone had a great time with a variety of outstanding activities, some great food and some excellent camaraderie. This is not to mention a successful, even financially, event for the Desert Explorers with the Silent Auction exceeding expectations. We are already looking forward to next year’s event!
Rendezvous 2010 Report
By Co-chair, Marian Johns
I hope everyone enjoyed this year’s shindig at Death Valley Junction as much as I did. The memorable highlights included the day trips – we had a nice variety to choose from; the Friday night potluck had a wonderful choice of mouth-watering dishes (those stuffed jalapenos were out of this world – couldn’t believe they were so mild), and Saturday night’s catered dinner was one of the best ever. Although I did not see the Saturday night Opera House program, I heard that it was well worth the admission price. And to top it all off, Bob and Nancy Dodd and Maybelle Lipking continued the tradition of Alan Romspert’s Silent Auction, and made a nice addition of $701.00 to the D.E.’s treasury. We also owe this year’s success to several other folks like Ruth Harder who was our contact with folks (namely Rich) at Death Valley Junction; the great cooks who prepared Saturday night’s dinner; Vicky Hill who set up Susan Sorell’s walking tour of “Dublin” down in Shoshone; Emmett Harder who arranged for the tour of Sheri’s in Pahrump; and Bob Jacoby who took reservations and worried about numbers. I would also like to thank all the trip leaders - the trips, after all are what it’s all about.
DESERT EXPLORERS RENDEZVOUS 2011
By Marian Johns
Another year, another Rondy, how time flies. If your missed this one, we’re sorry because I think is was one of the better ones, despite the late decisions about dates and place - for which we apologize. Next year we hope to have this information available early so you can set aside the dates. Debbie Miller will be working on Goffs as the venue for next year, but we should probably have an alternate site just in case, so if you have any ideas lets us know.
I was really impressed with the outstanding job that Bob Jaussaud and Steve Marschke did organizing the silent auction. It was loads of fun and we made a significant amount which will now be used for our own expenses and hopefully a donation to a worthy cause/organization. We surely miss Alan Romspert, the Dodd’s and Maybelle for the work they did putting together past auctions and hope Bob and Steve will continue this tradition. Thank you everyone who either donated or purchased items.
This year’s trips came off without a hitch. Even though Friday was a real scorcher (104 degrees I heard), Saturday and Sunday it cooled off considerably and was quite pleasant. Thank you trip leaders! Look for trip reports in the newsletters.
The Saturday evening banquet, although a bit pricey, was, in my opinion, tasty (loved those mashed potatoes). Your $20 did not include the tip, so the D.E. had to cover that. Did you know that the left-over food has to be thrown away? This seems like such a waste - there was lots of meat left. I was told we could not take the left-overs in "doggie bags" either.
See you all again next year – hope to see some new faces too. We would also be delighted to see you during the year on some of our monthly trips – not just once a year at the Rondy. We have some fine outings with dedicated leaders who put in a lot of time planning and sometimes pre- running trips just for you.
Debbie Miller Marschke deserves a special thanks for arranging to have Mark Jorgenson be our Rondy Speaker. Mr. Jorgenson, a former park superintendent, presented a very educational and humerous talk about the desert bighorn sheep that reside in the Anza Borrego area.
Vicki Hill also deserves a special thank you for doing much of the leg and phone work to put this Rondy together.
The Silent Auction by Steve Marschke
Thanks to everyone that made the silent auction a success. This year we tried a little bit of a twist - the "Buy it Now" feature. It was modeled after the eBay function of the same name. It was the option of the donor to choose to put a Buy It Now price on each item. The bidders had the opportunity to short circuit the bidding and buy the item directly without having competition. Of course this meant that the Buy It Now price should be about the fair market value of the item. Bob and I thought this might be a good way to seperate the fools from their money as in the past many items had only one bidder and sold for the minimum bid. It seemed to work, 30 items were sold through the Buy It Now feature.
Depending on how we counted, there were 163 items donated and 135 items purchased (Jim Proffit's lightbulbs and Bill Neill's grapefruit presented a source of counting discrepancies as some were bought indivdually and some as sets.) The revenue from the auction was $874. I believe that is a record high number! I thought it would be fun to have some awards:
First the awards for the donors: the Benefactor Award (for total revenue donated) goes to Ann Stoll; her photocopied out-of-print books earned a whopping $215! Honorable mention in the Benefactor category goes to Chuck and Kathy Mitchell for jewelry, clothing and Baja books. The Attic Prospector Award (for the most items donated) goes to Jim Proffitt for the donation of 62 compact flourescent light bulbs, with Ann Stoll as runner up for her 51 photocopied books. The Gold Bar Award (for the item that fetched the highest price) was the handmade mirror frame from Mignon Slentz composed of treasures that she has found on various DE trips - it garnered $55 dollars for the club. The Most Desirable Award (for the item that triggered a bidding war) was a malachite bracelet from Zimbabwe that Chuck and Kathy Mitchell donated - 5 different bidders made a total of 15 bids, eventually selling for $30 (or 6 times the starting bid!)
Now the awards for the purchasers: The Big Spender Award (for total dollars spent) goes to Neal Johns, honorable mention to Jean Hanson. The Shopaholic Award (for the person that bought the most items) also goes to Neal Johns with Jean Hanson and Vicki Hill tied for runner up.
Thanks to everyone that donated and purchased items, this is our one and only fundraiser for the year and helps to pay for the newletters, website, satellite phone and other operating expenses that you all enjoy. Bob and I would like to add a special thanks to Joan McGovern for reviewing, ordering and numbering the Ann Stoll books and for helping us collect the money at the auction closing frenzy - people were literally trying to throw money at us. See you all next year.
DE Annual Rendezvous 2012
April 13, 14, 15
By Marian Johns
I would like to thank everyone who attended this year’s Rondy in Needles for your support. And I would also like to thank all who helped in some way make this a memorable weekend. Some of the folks did double duty – helping in more than one way. They are:
¨ Bob Jacoby – money collector and list of participants’ keeper
¨ Bob & Sue Jaussaud – my Needles’ contact, silent auctioneer and inbound trip leaders
¨ Mary & Charles Hughes – also my Needles’ contact, leaders of Saturday and Sunday trips
¨ Mary Hughes – helping set up the Silent Auction Friday while Joso was leading the inbound trip
¨ Steve & Debbie Marschke – silent auctioneer and Saturday trip leaders
¨ Dave Given (hope you’re recovering from your fall) & Bob Rodemeyer – inbound trip leaders and Saturday trip leaders
¨ Neal & Marian Johns – Sunday trip leaders
¨ Ron Ross – Saturday night program – his impressive presentation about his grandmother, “The Girl from Williamsburg”
¨ Jim Proffitt – (good to see you up and about) video maker of Ron’s program
¨ Donators and purchasers of silent auction items
¨ Everyone who helped clean up after the meals
Please forgive me if I omitted anyone – it’s not intentional.
The weather certainly wasn’t what I expected. I was afraid it might be too hot. Instead, I wore my down jacket part of the time. Despite the rain, I think everyone preferred it to the scorching temperatures that are typical in Needles. It rains so seldom in the desert, I was quite happy to “endure” the cool weather and a little moisture. Sue Jaussaud reports that the following weekend it was 106 in Needles. We lucked out!
I believe, the RV park was a good location; I’m just sorry we didn’t have more customers for them, but I understand that gas prices ($4.00+/gallon) and the charge for an RV site ($30/day) made choosing a motel a no brainer. This is a problem we should consider when choosing next year’s Rondy venue.
I heard only positive comments about Saturday night’s catered dinner. And I heard that Gaelord Bek (catered dinner chef and RV Park owner) appreciated his birthday card and flying machine gift.
We had about 70 intrepid desert rats show up at the most “desert” of all desert places; Zzyzx, CA for a delightful weekend. Nearly everyone in Southern California has passed the Zzyzx off ramp on I-15 near Baker but few know what is at the end of a short road.
Back when the world was a few decades younger, an itinerant preacher named Doctor Springer filed a mining claim on aptly named Soda Lake for the mineral crystals that were found on the surface. Overstepping the mining regulations more than a little, he built a health resort using homeless people from Los Angeles he bussed out to the desert for labor. He promised them sunshine, better health, and a place to stay in exchange for a little work. No booze was allowed, and guess what, it worked out well for all concerned. He let guests stay for whatever they could afford and sold the crystals as a cure-all with the help of his own radio program. My ancient wife remembers listening to it.
The end came when the Los Angeles Times published an long article basically stating “Why is this man allowed to build and run a health resort on public land under the guise of a mining claim and sell dubious medicines?” This prompted several government agencies including the BLM and the IRS to come down hard on Doc Springer. After a long legal battle, he was evicted and the now large resort was left to deteriorate in the sun and wind of the East Mojave Desert. After several years the BLM finally realized something should be done and arranged for the California University system to take over the facility under the lead of Cal State Fullerton and use it as a Desert Studies Center. Any educational organization can, for a modest fee, use the facility. Since the Desert Explorers are a section of the Barstow Mojave River Valley Museum, we were in!
Eight different trips were led to historical mining sites, petroglyphs sites, scenic canyons, a geology tour, ghost towns, etc. My Current Wife and I led eight vehicles to several scenic canyons in the Cady Mountains. Hidden away in one was a Bighorn Sheep Guzzler which furnishes water in a mountain range where few if any all year springs exist. We had a former President of the Bighorn Society along to explain why and how this volunteer organization builds and installs these expensive and complicated systems in remote places. One canyon rivaled Artist Palette Canyon in Death Valley for colorful formations while another had dozens of caves in the side walls.
Our catered food was outstanding, the rooms were clean and comfortable, and the people who had not been there before were amazed at the facilities hidden away from public view. A good time was had by all. Kudos to the facility manager of 27 years, Rob Fulton for his excellent after dinner talk and the helpful people at Cal State Fullerton - Hi Norma !
Who Was Jack Longstreet?
Articles written by Emmett Harder and Marian Johns
Longstreet - by Emmett Harder
(article appeared in Newsletter, September 2013)
Andrew Jackson Longstreet was born in 1838 and died July 26, 1928.
There are many accounts about Andrew Jackson Longstreet who came to Nevada by way of Kentucky and Texas. His doins in and around the Amargosa Valley made him notorious. He was reported to be a tough hombre and is described as very hot-blooded and was widely recognized as a gunslinger, having killed men in various towns.
In the stories he is recognized as a man to be respected or at least to be feared. He was a large man and well-armed. It is reported that he had lost an ear as a youngster over cattle rustling he was involved in in Texas. And we suppose that is why he wore his hair long and disheveled.
I will hereby relate about him and the Shoot-out he was involved in with the Mormons at their Chispa gold mine located in 1809 west of what would later be the town of Johnnie, Nevada. In this account a gunfight erupted at the mine in late summer of 1895 and was reported in different publications in several different ways.
It seems that at the time the rich Chispa gold mine was temporarily inoperative and, for some time during a change in ownership, was staffed with a caretaker crew. A former employee and a group of his followers, among them several men with bad reputations including Longstreet, with drawn guns, had run the mine crew off. They claimed the previous year’s assessment work had not been done and therefore they were taking possession of the claim and they wanted $12,000 in cash to satisfy them. Sheriff McGregor called their claim outrageous and departed for the then County Seat, Belmont, Nevada two hundred miles to the north, to settle the matter.
The reported claim jumpers felt secure, there was a steep slope to the north and the one road into the mine was in a narrow canyon. They then told the Mormons that if they crossed a line on the road they would be shot. The local Mormon men who had interests in the mine would not wait, and led by Bob Montgomery (who would later develop Skidoo, California) who was a part owner received a shipment of new rifles from the Nevada Southern Railroad and they organized, came over the hill above the mine and surprised the reported claim jumpers as they were having their breakfast. Some reported a terrible gunfight. Of the attacked men one, Phil Foote, a wanted desperado, was shot in the chest. Longstreet, seeing the bad fix they were in and hoping to save Foote, surrendered and their group left the property. However Foote died that afternoon.
There were arrests made and Longstreet was one of the men taken or he may have given himself up. He was one of the men convicted and in the end posted $800 bail. He went back to Ash Meadows with his associates. No one was tried for the shooting of Foote. They said it could not be decided who had shot him.
Andrew Jackson "Jack" Longstreet by Marian Johns
(article appeared in Newsletter, September 2013)
The Longstreet Inn & Casino is named after the colorful desert frontiersman, Jack Longstreet, who had a cabin (which has been restored) at nearby Ash Springs. Sam Hipkins has summarized Jack’s interesting life in his blog “Miscellaneous Ramblings of a Happy Wanderer.” In his summary, Sam refers to Sally Zanjani’s book, Jack Longstreet: Last of the Desert Frontiersmen.
There he was, a broad shouldered, bearded, determined looking elderly man dressed in sloppy clothes and a pointed hat with one hand hooked in a pocket and the other holding what appears to be a walking stick. Longstreet stood six feet tall, but his powerful build made him seem even taller. His long hair covered the fact that he was minus an ear. He claimed that vigilantes, after capturing a gang of cattle rustlers he was with hanged them, but because of his youth, they spare him and only cut off his ear as punishment. The picture shows a deep tan which apparently was as dark as the Indians he lived amongst; however, there is no evidence of what Zanjani describes as his sparkling blue eyes. Study the picture for a few moments. Can there be any doubt that here was a force to be reckoned with?
Longstreet made his way into Nevada in the late 1800s and was the kind of mysterious character that we find throughout Western lore. So what is known about Longstreet? First of all, he was a rugged individualist who apparently had a strong moral code. He was known to have a quick temper and was involved in several gunfights; as evidenced by the gun he packed a long-barreled Colt.44 favored by the old time gunfighters. It had several notches scratched into it. But Jack was also a man of contradictions. In stark contrast to his persona, he spoke with a soft southern drawl and had a “gentlemanly, almost courtly style, and a warm brand of southern hospitality that offered every amenity to a guest and a cocked gun to the unidentified stranger.” He roamed the deserts of Nevada and Arizona engaged in a wide range of enterprises: at one time or another he was a prospector, a rancher, a saloonkeeper, a trailblazer, a stagecoach shotgun rider, a defender of Indian rights, and a thorn in the side of ranching and mining interests. For the most part he was a loner, but he found friendship amongst the Southern Paiutes, learned to speak their language and had Paiute wives. Eventually the Paiutes came to regard him as a leader.
I learned that Longstreet once lived in what is now the Ash Meadow Wildlife Refuge located about 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas in the Amargosa Valley. I wanted to learn more about Longstreet, so I visited Ash Meadow in 2008 where his stone cabin has been restored. The location must have been to Longstreet’s liking; it was remote, sat on the edge of a crystal blue spring and was a good place where he could raise horses. He squatted on the land and named it Ash Meadow Ranch. He built the cabin up against a mound, into which he dug a cave that provided natural refrigeration. There were two other structures on the property; a wooden framed house and a shed, but they’re long gone. After a few years, he sold the place and moved to nearby Windy Canyon, where he established a ranch and a mine.
Jack Longstreet’s last days are shrouded in mystery. In 1928 he accidently shot himself in the armpit and shoulder. He went to a hospital in Tonopah, was treated, but left before he should have. Back at his Windy Canyon ranch, the wound festered and then Longstreet suffered a stroke. After several days, when he didn’t show up for his daily visit, a friend rode over to Longstreet’s place and found him unable to move, lying alone. After suffering the stroke and without water for three days in the deadly heat, it was remarkable that Longstreet, a 94 year old, was still alive. It remains a mystery where Fanny, his Paiute wife, was during this time. Sanjani asks “had she turned aside from him, believing, in the Southern Paiute way, that a man grown old and helpless is better off to die?” Once again Longstreet was in the hospital, but this time he would not up and leave. A car was dispatched to find and bring Fanny to the hospital, but Longstreet died before she got there. Four years later Fanny died and she was laid to rest beside him in Belmont, Nevada.
Jack Longstreet lived the life of a self-reliant man, a man on the move, a man to be feared and a man of contradictions. His early life is a mystery and his later life is the stuff of which myths are made. On that score, Sally concludes, “In the life of Longstreet, however, the myth was also the truth”, and because of that, he is remembered as one of Nevada’s frontier characters
by Bob Jacoby
Despite a little bit more adventure than planned on one Saturday trip, everyone seemed to have a great time at the Lone Pine Rondy. We started with two interesting inbound trips. Bob and Sue Jaussaud, as usual, led an extensive two day inbound trip. That got everything off to a good start. In addition, a group of us did an inbound trip on Friday through the wild flower covered Coso Mountains. Both groups arrived at Boulder Creek in Lone Pine in time for the evening pot luck dinner which was held in the clubhouse. Steve Marschke and Bob Jaussaud had plenty of time to successfully setup the silent auction on Friday night.
On Saturday morning attendees had the choice of three different trips. Bob Jacoby led a guided tour of the Lone Pine Museum and the Alabama Hills. Steve Jarvis led an amazing trip to Cerro Gordo and Ted Kalil led a large group to the Mazourka Pass area. After a full day of dirt road activity everyone returned to Boulder Creek for the catered BBQ dinner. (The Mazourka Pass folks got back a little late, but still got to partake.) After dinner we heard from an excellent speaker, Jim Jennings, who talked about the sites to be seen in the Owens Valley. Jim is a retired BLM employee who has lived for many years in the Lone Pine area. The weather cooperated and we were able to dine and hear the speaker outside without much wind. Right after Mr. Jennings spoke the Mazourka Pass group finally arrived to the relief of everybody. The final event of this very busy day was the closing of the silent auction. Thanks to Steve and Bob for another successful auction.
Sunday morning there was a choice of two trips. Marian and Neal led a trip to Darwin while Nelson Miller led a very interesting trip to the Centennial Wash area south of Highway 190. These two trips capped another fun and educational Rondy weekend. We are already looking forward to next years’ Rondy and would like to hear from anyone who has suggestions for a venue.
It Was Excellent!
April 2-4, 2016
Another terrific Desert Explorers Rendezvous is in the books and a good time was had by all. Special thanks go out to our hostess, Susan Sorrells, for welcoming us again to her hometown, Shoshone. She was everywhere, all the time, gave our after dinner keynote speech, led talks and walks, managed catering and logistics and was an all-around delight. Susan, you are a superstar and it was a pleasure to spend the weekend exploring Shoshone and the surrounding territory.
Also deserving special note is our chairman, Bob Jacoby, who took it upon himself to make the location arrangements for our event, lead the charge and keep things buttoned up around the edges. Attaboy Bob!
Others in the stew who need thanking were our trip leaders Bob and Sue Jaussaud, Nelson Miller, Ted Kalil, Ron Lipari, Mike Vollmert, Emmett Harder and Bill Neill. Silent auctioneers Bob Jaussaud and Steve Marschke once again turned old treasures into operating funds and lived to tell the tale.
We had over 60 folks at the dinner, inbound trips starting days before the event from Las Vegas, Baker and Barstow, outbound trips to Amargosa Springs, Barstow via Impassable Pass, as well as the south end of Death Valley. In town Susan led a hike to the Dublin Gulch cave homes and a birding walk on Sunday. There certainly was no shortage of things to see and do, along with first rate company.
Thanks to all who attended and contributed to the event. Every time we have an event like this it reminds us what a pleasure it is to spend some time in the desert with friends and family.
(See the photos taken by Allan Wicker)
Friday Rondy Inbound
Leader: Bob & Sue Jaussaud
A warm Thursday evening on the Colorado River with a group of friends and lots of wine. What could be better? Well… how about Nancy’s hors d’oeuvres, Ron Lipari’s barbecued lemon chicken, Vicki’s baked potatoes with toppings, Sue’s salad and Axel’s avocado pie. Life was good on the river. Then it was off to the historic El Garces in Needles to hear a talk by Ron Ross about his Grandmother’s years as a teacher at nearby Fort Mojave. The talk was well attended and Ron gave an excellent presentation.
Next morning, after Sue’s chili cheese egg casserole and Vicki’s fresh fruit, we packed up and started our inbound trip for the Desert Explorer Rendezvous in Boulder City. Our adventure would take us on Old Route 66 over Sitgreaves Pass to Kingman, then north on Highway 93 to Chloride. We planned to cross over the Colorado River to Nevada via the new Tillman Bridge.
Our ﬁrst stop was in Oatman to savor the old mining town and pet the burros. Oatman began when gold was discovered in the 1860’s. The town is named for Olive Oatman who was kidnapped by Apaches or Yavapais, sold to the Mojave Indians and ﬁnally exchanged for a white horse and other goods at Fort Yuma in 1856. When Route 66 was built in the 1920’s, Oatman was at its peak and used its clout to have the new road wind over Sitgreaves Pass and through Oatman instead of following the easier route along the railroad through Yucca. Oatman wasn’t bypassed until 1953.
Beyond Oatman the wildﬂowers became intense. The remains of the poppy “super bloom” were accentuated with abundant white chicory, lupine and phacelia. The Gold Road Mine is in full operation again at the old townsite of Gold Road. The mine was discovered in 1900 when Jose Jerez discovered gold while looking for his lost burro. Sadly, the town was razed in 1949 to save on taxes even though the section of Route 66 passing through it was still the main route west.
Route 66 over Sitgreaves Pass was notorious for its steepness and switchbacks. Early day drivers would sometimes hire someone to drive their car over the pass for them. Finally cresting the pass, we were treated to an expansive view of the Sacramento Valley and the Hualapai Mountains beyond. East of the pass we took time to stop and see the goldfish in Fish Bowl Spring, a historic spot with rock steps most likely put in place by the W.P.A. We stopped again at Little Meadows to take a short hike through the vegetation and found inscriptions made by members of Lieutenant Beale's party. The inscriptions were left in 1859 when Beale was constructing an all weather wagon road to California and, incidentally, testing the camels over the route.
Leaving Little Meadows, we passed through the remains of Ed’s Camp before emerging from the canyon at Cool Springs. Cool Springs had been a beacon of light on Old Route 66 offering cabins, home cooked meals, gasoline and fresh water to weary travelers. Sadly, it was abandoned when Route 66 was bypassed and had crumbled into ruins. Ned Leuchtner bought the remains in 2001 and restored the store. Today a charismatic character named “Crazy Ray” manages Cool Springs and it is well worth a stop for a cool soda, or maybe a piece of jalapeno bacon brittle.
In Kingman we took a break at the Visitor Center in the historic Power House. They have a Route 66 Museum that is a must see and a one-of-a-kind electric car museum. Railroad Park across the street from the Power House was a shady spot for our lunch. Kingman is a really pleasant place.
After lunch, we turned north on Highway 93. Just north of Kingman we came to the Turquoise Mine Store. The mine is located in Mineral Park and not open to the public, but the store is a unique chance to learn everything you ever wanted to know about turquoise. The parking lot has ﬂakes of turquoise scattered everywhere. Quite a place.
Chloride was our ﬁnal destination before heading to happy hour. It is famous for, among other things, the Roy Purcell Murals in the hills just outside town. These were painted in 1966 when Roy worked as a miner in the nearby Cerbat Mountains. The town of Chloride is the oldest continuously inhabited mining town in Arizona. It started in the 1840’s when silver was located at “Silver Hill.” We saw the Chloride Post Ofﬁce which opened its doors in 1873. They are still open. The Butterﬁeld Stage Line serviced Chloride from 1868 to 1919 and their stage stop is still there. It’s now called “Yesterday’s Restaurant.” Our ﬁnal goal in Chloride was to locate the Railroad Station which was built by the Santa Fe in 1898 and served until 1935.
After Chloride we headed for our destination, Boulder City, for a gathering of good friends at the 2019 Desert Explorer Rendezvous. We had had a fun and interesting start to a great weekend. ~ Bob