East Mojave Heritage Trail #3
Leader: Nelson Miller
We gathered in Baker with eleven vehicles to start the trip, including: Mignon Slentz, Bruce Barnett, Dave Hess, Bob and Sue Jaussaud, Ken Eltrich, Vicki Hill and Dave McFarland, Ron Lipari, Mike Vollmert, Jim Watson, Marian and Neal Johns, and Leonard Friedman. Right across Baker Blvd. from the Shell Station where we met, you can still see the old T&T Railroad berm with small bridge abutments. We will touch the T&T again on this trip.
Our first stop was the dry, lava falls, which are actually a part of the East Mojave Heritage Trail #2, but I always them find particularly scenic, not to mention providing nice shade on a sunny day. From there, we headed to Rocky Ridge, the start of East Mojave Heritage Trail #3. It is a short walk from the powerline road to actual rocky ridge where they took wagons down. You can pretty clearly still see the wagon route. It is always amazing to me that anyone ever took wagons down this way, but Steve Marschke has told me there is a spring near the bottom, so that would account for using this route.
A short side trip from the East Mojave Heritage Trail took us to Sands, an old railroad siding. Along the way there we passed over a piece an old plank road. At Sands, the large engine and pump that used to be there have been removed and there was a fair amount of flood damage that has blocked access to the pump house.
Friday evening we camped at Mesquite Springs, along the T & T Railroad and saw the Desert Megaphone and the petroglyphs at Mesquite Springs. The mystery of the Desert Megaphone remains unsolved! On the way to the Springs, we passed the little airstrip where we have previously seen aerial acrobatics performed.
Saturday morning, we followed Crucero Road south to Ludlow, where we explored the Old town of Ludlow and the cemetery. Lindsay Woods and his son and a friend of Lindsay’s joined us in Ludlow. We also took a side trip to Ragtown and the Bagdad Chase Mine, more or less following the old Ludlow and Southern narrow gauge railroad route, however, there is new activity at the mine and it was closed off with lots of “No Trespassing” Signs. Between 1904 and 1953 over half of the entire gold production of San Bernardino County since 1880 came from this mine. That is rich indeed when you consider Calico, Holcomb Valley and Big Bear area, Providence Mountains, and Hart. Obviously, people believe there is more gold to be mined here.
Proceeding east from Ludlow, thanks to Mike Boltinghouse, we explored the various old routes of the National Old Trails Road all the way to Bagdad. Mike gave a terrific presentation on National Old Trails Road at the Mojave River Valley Museum the previous week and had shared some information especially for the Desert Explorers. Mike plans to return to the Museum in March to complete his presentation on the National Old Trails Road, the precursor to Route 66. We followed the 1913 route over ten miles almost to Bagdad. Along the way to Bagdad, we stopped at the Mailbox on East Mojave Heritage Trail #3. The register there dates back to 1992. We found sign-ins from previous trips lead by Robert Jaussaud in 1998 and Alex Heller in 1992!
Saturday evening, thanks to Bruce Barnett’s recommendations, we found a great campsite in the wash north of Bagdad. It was a warm day and this site had shade from the adjacent hill. The evening remained warm and we sat around the campfire in our shirt sleeves.
Sunday morning, we headed north, passing by a concrete bunker, about a half mile south of the gas line road. This has a large patio/parking area (?) which looks out the south toward Amboy. It has rock lined trails leading off in opposite directions, to latrine areas? Another mystery in the desert! Could this be connected to Patton and the Desert Training Center, with a camp east of Amboy, or is or more mundane and related to the gas line?
Another side trip took us the Orange Blossom Mine, another gold mine, where there seems to be new activity and more, recent “No Trespassing” Signs. The East Mojave Heritage Trail #3 follows the wash north from the vicinity of the Orange Blossom Mine, but no trace of the trail could be found, so we headed east to cross under the Freeway at Kelbaker Road.
Once across the Freeway, we headed for Budweiser Spring, a pretty drive on what is now a “cherry stem” into the wilderness area. The East Mojave Heritage Trail #3 north of Budweiser Spring is now in wilderness and is closed to vehicular traffic. In 1894, this must have been called Twin Springs since we found an inscription naming it such. Several of our intrepid explorers hiked about a half mile up the canyon and found the second spring.
Since the way north along the East Mojave Heritage Trail is closed by wilderness we returned to Kelbaker Road and ended our trip there. We will pick up the rest of East Mojave Heritage Trail #3 in the spring when we do East Mojave Heritage Trail #4 ~Nelson