Sunday, March 14, 2010

Keys Ranch, Joshua Tree NP, Mar 14, 2010

We signed up for a tour of the Keys Ranch which is located within the boundaries of Joshua Tree NP.   We had a great time!

061 One of the children who grew up on the ranch tells his memories here.

Here is also some info from another web site…

“In the high desert country that was to become Joshua Tree National Park, rugged individuals tried their luck at cattle ranching, mining, and homesteading. William F. Keys and his family are particularly representative of the hard work and ingenuity it took to settle and prosper in the Mojave Desert.

Keys was born in Russia, as George Barth, in 1879 and the family moved to Nebraska in 1892. Two years later, when he was fifteen, George left home and found work variously as a miner, a cowboy, and a deputy sheriff. By 1898 he had changed his name to William F. Keys and signed on with the Rough Riders in Prescott, Arizona. Thrown from a horse and hospitalized, Keys missed leaving with the group. Instead he traveled to Death Valley where he became friends and mining partners with Walter Scott, known as “Death Valley Scotty.”

By 1910, Bill had arrived in the Joshua Tree area and been hired as custodian and assayer of the Desert Queen Mine. Once prosperous, the mine had lost money in recent years. When it finally closed, Bill claimed it and a five-acre mill site for his unpaid wages. In 1917 Keys homesteaded additional acreage adjoining the mill site and this 160 acres became the Desert Queen Ranch. Keys married Frances Mae Lawton the next year.

The ranger-led tour of the ranch includes the colorful story of the 60 years Bill and Frances spent working together to make a life and raise their five children in this remote location. After years of neglect, the National Park Service, with the help of some dedicated and resourceful volunteers, has restored the ranch much as it was in 1969 when Bill died. The ranch house, school house, store, and workshop still stand; the orchard has been replanted; and the grounds are full of the cars, trucks, mining equipment, and spare parts that are a part of the Desert Queen Ranch story. “

066 056


Here I am showing the tour group how to use a wringer washer, yes, I grew up using a washer similar to this one.


The ranger told us this was the chicken house and the old car was where they kept the chickens secure at night.


If you get to Joshua Tree NP, be sure to visit the Keys Ranch!!

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