The Silence and The Sun (Second Edition) by Joe de Kehoe 340pp
By Neal Johns, Chairman Emeritus, Desert Explorers
The Silence and The Sun covers the history of over 4,000 square miles of the East Mojave Desert with an emphasis on the people that lived there and their interactions with the rugged environment they lived in and changed. Joe has another winner; the First Edi- tion was outstanding for what it covered and now the Second Edition has added about 60 pages of mostly new material with a few minor corrections.
One of my first excursions into the East Mojave in the 1970’s was to drive over the Skeleton Pass Road. How could anyone resist a name like that? This was followed by many hundreds of miles of driving in the East Mojave and having no idea of the history around me until I began to read many of the desert history books. With the publication of this book, anyone like me will be saved from that fate. It is the best introduction to the history of an area I have seen.
The history of the Skeleton Pass Road is just one of the many things covered. The new material includes a great chapter on the Old Woman Meteorite and how it was taken from the two prospectors that found it, the Bagdad airfield, the “Cornfield Meet” – (Railroad slang for a collision) – between a train and a Army tank and other new added chapters.
Abandoned shacks, now falling down have a history and the broken dreams or successes of their long-gone owners are told here. Directions and GPS coordinates are given for explorers along with many old maps that show what once was. Above all, this is the story of the people that lived and worked in mines, on the railroad, and on or around Route 66. Imagine being a first grader and having to walk six and one half miles (one way!) to school, five days a week, or living in a tent while starting a gar- age on the new Route 66.
This book is highly recommended for anyone interested in any phase of the desert. No dull history tome, this book comes alive with the people that made the desert their home and their accomplishments.