Cowboys and Indians (and Miners) in Joshua Tree

My brother, his girlfriend, and I went to Joshua Tree last weekend. We were supposed to do some bouldering and take some pictures. We did absolutely no bouldering and very little photography, but did end up doing quite a bit of hiking and scrambling, and even more “getting lost while hiking and scrambling.”

We also learned a valuable Christmas lesson about bringing Hawaiian rolls on a camping trip but not having butter. I’d tell you what it was, but I’m saving it for my eventual screenplay about camping and bread products.

Joshua Tree is chock full of abandoned mines and related equipment. Near Barker Dam is a neat structure called the “Wall Street Mill” which used to be part of a major operation. It’s supposed to be closed to visitors, but as you can see the barbed wire fence doesn’t work too hard keeping people out.

Wall street mill

Near the mill is an area called the “car lot” which has a number of derelict cars.

The parking lot, near Wall Stree mill

These tires have seen better days. Speaking of tires, have you seen the ridiculously sexist Goodyear tire ad from the 1960s? I’m not sure why I bring that up, but it’s kinda funny in a really horrible kind of way.

Detail of a car near the Wall Street Mill

Besides having deadly mines around every corner, Joshua Tree also has a pretty large body of native American pictographs and petroglyphs. Near the Wonderland ruins is a really cool rock that has a large, hollow cavity inside. If you climb under and into the rock you’ll discover a variety of hidden pictographs, including the noon day sun at the top of the cavity.

Indian pictographs near ruins at Joshua Tree

Here’s a lousy attempt at capturing the Milky Way from Arch Rock. I just got a new 5d Mark III, so look for these types of photos to vastly improve over the next few months.

Joshua Tree milky way over arch rock

The Hall of Horrors is large split rock site with numerous (and fun to climb) slot canyons. Here’s me being dumb by chimneying through a relatively deep canyon. ┬áMy photos on the other side were terrible, so at least I risked my health for nothing. That’s always nice.

Me, doing a chimney climb at Hall of Horrors, Joshua Tree

The next day we hiked to a remote part of the park. I say “hiked,” but really I mean “continually lost the trail and had to climb random hills and out of various gullies.” The cool thing about this particular remote area is an abandoned miner’s cabin built into the crevice between some huge boulders. Because so few people know about this place, the cabin still stands as the miners left it many decades ago.

Abandoned miner's cabin at Joshua Tree, Eagle Hill

Abandoned miner's cabin at Joshua Tree, Eagle Hill

Abandoned miner's cabin at Joshua Tree, Eagle Hill

Abandoned miner's cabin at Joshua Tree, Eagle Hill

Abandoned miner's cabin at Joshua Tree, Eagle Hill

Abandoned miner's cabin at Joshua Tree, Eagle Hill

Abandoned miner's cabin at Joshua Tree, Eagle Hill

Abandoned miner's cabin at Joshua Tree, Eagle Hill

One of my favorite places in the park is the rock containing the so-called “Disney” pictographs. This large rock near Barker Dam has a number of authentic pictographs and petroglyphs on it. However, in the mid-twentieth century a Disney film crew (shooting “Chico, the Misunderstood Coyote“) decided that the real pictographs weren’t vibrant enough to film and proceeded to paint and carve their own, or to paint over the originals.

Despite this stupid act of vandalism messing up the site, I still like to come and sit here at night while I do photography. It’s cool to consider that for hundreds or thousands of years, Native Americans also came here to talk and laugh and look at the stars in much the some way.

 

"Disney" pictographs near Barker Dam, Joshua Tree

This is valley that lays in front of the Disney rock.

Joshua Tree sunset

Around the corner at the rock and above your head is this hidden sun pictograph. I don’t know if it’s authentic, as it’s really bright still and to the best of my knowledge, all of the legit pictographs in the park are red or brown in hue. I doubt the Disney staff did this, since it would be essentially impossible to film. So, who knows? Maybe it’s modern vandalism, or maybe its hidden location has kept it safe and vibrant all these years.

Sun pictograph near Barker Dam

"Disney" pictographs near Barker Dam at Joshua Tree

Another shot of the valley.

Sunset at Joshua Tree near Barker Dam

And one last parting shot from later the same night.

Milky way from the pictograph rock at Joshua Tree

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