April 4 through 6, 2003
Reported by Gene Stoops
Bob and Betty Oliver were our hosts at their Joshua Tree estate. I say this because they have made it such a beautiful place and so inviting. They were very gracious hosts, and we will never forget their kindness. Bob is very familiar with the area and led us to some very interesting places over the weekend.
On Friday, April 4th Bob led us to the Keys’ Ranch in Joshua Tree National Park. Originally from Russia, Mr. Keys eventually settled in the Joshua Tree area where he ranched, farmed and mined in the early 1900s. We were met by a Park Ranger who led us on a wonderful tour of the ranch and grounds around the ranch. She talked about the ranch in its hey day and even had pictures for us to be able to understand what she was showing us. It was very enlightening, and many of us could still see remnants of our past: old equipment, ringer washer, etc.. We then parked at the site of the Barker Dam, explored the area and had lunch. Several dams were built in the area by ranchers trying to harness the water for fields and household use. It was a great day, and in the evening we had a potluck.
On Saturday, April 5th we headed out, with our fearless leader, to some of the gold mines in the Dale Mining District. It is absolutely amazing the sheer labor it took to mine in those days (again early 1900’s). We explored several areas, and the guys always get a kick out of looking over all of the equipment. Along the way Bob told us about some of the other historical sites in the Joshua Tree area. Then we went back to the Olivers’ for another great potluck. Thanks to everyone who brought such tasty food. Bob was determined to have a campfire, and, finally, the wind let up on Saturday night. We sat around the fire and captured the beautiful view from the Olivers’. On Sunday Jerry Harada led a few people to Coyote Canyon were there were many petroglyphs and beautiful wildflowers.
Thanks again to the Olivers for a wonderful field trip.