Schmidt's "Famous Tunnel" now has a group of
"friends" trying to preserve and protect the
the photo to visit their Website.
the photo below to read more about Cerro Gordo.
is a new publication highlighting the history and legends
California and Nevada.
on the logo to
request subscription information.
Time To Celebrate:Independence
the Boys in Blue
Cecile Page Vargo
July 4th 1862
, Lieutenant Colonel George S. Evans of the Second California Cavalry
successfully completed his mission to find a site for a much needed
military outpost in the Owens River
Valley, East of the great
mountains. Three days later the following report traveled by messenger
Independence, Oak Creek
July 5, 1862
Sir:I have the honor to report to the colonel commanding at
that I have arrived at this Point, forty-five miles above the foot of
Lake, on Yesterday,
July 4, 1862
. Immediately upon my arrival I caused a flag-staff to be erected and
the old flag with all the stars upon it hoisted to the breeze, with
three times three given most heartily by the men and a salute fired
with small arms, upon which occasion I named this camp, Camp
Over the next 15 years & six days, the "Boys in
Blue" would serve and protect the people who lived in & around
the areas now known as Lone Pine, Independence, Big Pine, and
Bishop. While there were the occasional skirmishes between the OwensValley settlers and the
Indians that required their attention, the men of CampIndependencebecame caught up in
day to day life with them as well. In addition to surveying the land
surrounding them, and surviving and recovering from the tragedies of the
Great 1872 Earthquake, the men traded supplies and services with the
locals, joined in the frenzy of the isolated mining camps of the day,
and patrolled for the elusive "Buffalo Gnats" that plagued the
area. They also intermingled with the families, became friends with,
often times courted and married their daughters. They joined in the
celebrations that marked life's milestones, and provided relief from the
tediousness and boredom.
All Aboard The Be
It's only natural that a Camp formed on the Fourth of July, and
named after the day the nation they were a part of declared it's
independence, would set aside some time to observe the holiday. In 1872,
when many mines in the area were booming, and populations in the OwensValley were swelling, in
addition to the usual revelry heralding the day, there was much
excitement. The steamboat Bessie Brady had launched it's maiden voyage
only a few days before on June 27th, as it hauled 700 Cerro Gordo silver bullion bars to the southern end of OwensLakewhere they would
then be transported by freight wagons and mules to Los Angeles. When July 4th came
around, James Brady, the superintendent of Swanseawho had built the
boat, invited anyone who was interested to join in a excursions across
the lake and a picnic at one of the landings. Brady's daughter
christened the boat that was named after her that day, as the crowds
watched. James Brady himselfoften
enjoyed holding parties and dances with the boys at CampIndependenceand sharing wine and
ale from his own cellars. No doubt a few of the men helped to celebrate
the christening and lake crossings on this Fourth of July.
The Finest Girls
& The Finest Fourth
A few days before the 4th of July, 1873, the Inyo Independent newspaper received a letter from one of Major
Egbert's men who had gone to San Diego with him. He ended
his letter with a reference to the much anticipated Independence Day
"Give my regards to all the girls, and tell them to get
themselves in good dancing trim by the time I come back; for Lord, won't
I swing them"
CampIndependence and the communities
that had grown up around it, had much to look forward to this nations
holiday. Captain Alexander B. MacGowan had arrived only a few days
before and he was determined to celebrate the 11th year of the camps
existence in fine style. The town of Independencewas particularly
excited about the building of their new court house, and would dedicate
it on the holiday as well. Captain MacGowan ushered in the day with asunrise gun salute for each of the 37 United States of
America. Throughout the day,
salutes were fired at various intervals, as well. Many distinguished
guests, as well as officers and ladies from the military post, were
greeted by a special welcoming committee, and special seats were
arranged for them during the days festivities and supper. Miners from Cerro Gordo were invited to perform music for the evenings
The usual orations were presented, including the Declaration of
Independence read by the Honorable James Parker. Captain MacGowan gave a
history of CampIndependence, and tribute to its
founder George S. Evans. The day was considered a fitting celebration by
all who attended.
At 140 guests were
seated in the hall and lower rooms of the new Court House. A three
course meal was served, under the direction of Thomas Kehoe. Following
the meal, which received rave reviews by those who attended, the rooms
of the Court House were prepared for the dances. Although the rooms were
filled to the brim, the music was good and a great time was had by all.By the end of the day, this 1873 celebration was considered a
fine Fourth of July.
Not too many years ago, the family station wagon was the
magic carpet to adventure. Today, that family station wagon is likely to
be a four wheel drive sport utility vehicle or pick up truck. SUV's and
other 4x4's are one of the best selling classes of vehicles. Ironically,
industry statistics show that once purchased, few owners will dare to
drive their vehicles off the paved highway. Click your mouse through our
website and enjoy our armchair adventures and the histories behind them.
If you are interested in taking one of our guided tours with your
vehicle, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Several years ago, we bought our first SUV. We went to a one-night class
at a local community college entitled "How to 4-Wheel Drive" by Harry Lewellyn.
The following weekend we attended the hands-on day tour. We liked what we were
doing so much that we began going out nearly every weekend and learned how to
negotiate a variety of dirt roads. Our spare time was spent doing research on
the history and ecology of our favorite areas. A one-day outing turned into 16
years of leading others on mini-vacations throughout Southern California and the
Our 4WD outings involve driving on easy to moderate dirt roads and are
ideally suited to novice and intermediate level drivers. All tours are suitable
for stock vehicles in good condition, although some tours do have vehicle size
Our tours are
operated under permits issued by the Bureau of Land Management, U.S.
Forest Service, and other authorities.
We share our knowledge of the backcountry over the CB radio with our
guests. We frequently stop to explore mining areas, old and new, and ponder the
rocks, plants and animals we may encounter. We'll occasionally visit an old
cabin or deserted mountain lookout.
California has a fascinating history, from geologic unrest and
prehistoric petroglyph scribes to the "Radium Queen of the Mojave" and the
"Human Mole of Black Mountain." Load up your 4X, fasten your seatbelts and get
ready to explore historic California.