There are many reminders of our extraordinary local history hidden across the high desert. With the help of the Mohahve Historical Society, you can explore the area and find these little-known gems.
MHS has recently identified and cataloged 14 unique and interesting monuments that provide information about the history of Victor Valley. The team is refurbishing some monuments, some of which will be relocated for better visits.
MHS has published a booklet describing the monument and its location, which can be used as a self-driving tour to visit these signs.
MHS was founded in 1964 by a group of history students at Victor Valley College. Since then, the team has continued to expand, and they continue to hold monthly meetings and conduct field trips on historical sites in the area. MHS adopted the unique spelling of Mohahve from the diary of the famous explorer John C. Fremont, who explored the area in 1834-44.
Since its inception, MHS has played a key role in researching, documenting, teaching, and publishing the history of the people and communities in the Mojave Desert. The team has been involved in the placement and maintenance of monuments in the area for many years. These projects usually work with cities, conservation organizations, or Eagle Scouts.
Here is an example of the detailed information you can find in the MHS brochure (some spelling, punctuation and historical accuracy are the same as those on the monument):
No. 2 MOJAVE RIVER CROSSING (Granite)
Location: South of Turner Road, 1 mile west of National Trails Hwy in Victorville
Monument text: From prehistoric times to the 1800s, this is the main crossing point of the ancient Indian Mojave Trail. Padre Garces (1776), Jedediah Smith (1826-27), Kit Carson (1840s) crossed here. Westward immigrants, Mormons, army camels and mule trails (1850s) also passed this place.
Wells Fargo and Pony Express were once called Lane’s Crossing (1857), and there was a station here. The early Victorville called it Turner Ranch (1883).
Note: There is also a newer concrete and granite monument at the site to commemorate Lane’s Crossing. It was dedicated in 2014 by the Billy Holcomb chapter of E Clampus Vitus.
No. 3 MORMON SPRINGS (granite)
Location: Victorville at the northwest corner of 8th Street and C Street
In the 1800s, the freshwater springs in the area were developed by Mormon Freighters, making the springs and surrounding poplars a popular campground.
In 1998, Jonathan Oliver’s Eagle Scout project, unit #28 Ciec cooperated with Mohahve Historical Society, Mormon Trails Association, Victorville Historical Advisory Committee.
1861, 7 John Brown Road (Granite)
Location: Ridgecrest Road, one block north of Bear Valley Road, east side, Victorville
The historic John Brown Road can be found near this monument. As early as 1861, John Brown, a mountain man and a pioneer of Mormonism, built a narrow toll road through the Cajon Pass to the Mojave River. This road was once part of the main road to Utah, used by miners, mule workers, and pioneers. Today, this dirt road is located on a nearby railroad track, just west of here.
John Brown was born in Massachusetts in 1817
Russell McDonald’s Eagle Scout project, in April 1995, assisted by Screaming Eagles Patrol 356 Apple Valley, historian John Bascom, and donated by Sooter Sign Co.
#10 HOLCOMB VALLEY ROAD 1861 (granite with new aluminum plate)
Location: Arrowhead Lake Road, west side, 0.25 miles south of Rock Springs Road (along the golf course fence), Hesperia
A free ramp passes through here, from Holcomb Valley through the Cahoon Pass into the Brown Toll Road. In 1861, the citizens of Belleville raised $1,500 and hired a subway carmaker Jed Van Duzen to build the road.
A new aluminum plaque with the above text has been installed on this granite monument, and the contribution of the monument has been omitted. However, the original credit text looks like this:
The monument was placed in 1990 by Stephen T Novtny, a member of Mohahve history.Assisted by the Hesperia Recreation and Park District Mohahve Historical Society
To purchase the “Mojave Historical Society Monument” brochure and learn more about MHS, visit the Apple Valley Legacy Museum at the former Apple Valley Inn at 20601 Highway 18, or the Victor Valley Legacy at Victorville 7th St. 15492 Museum.
Hesperia Recreation and Park District has placed other historical monuments in the high desert. There are 15 such monuments, and the park area has produced a booklet to help visitors find these marks (two of the Hesperia monuments are also shown in the MHS booklet).
Mark Landis is a freelance writer. His contact information is: Historyinca@yahoo.com.