Digital-Desert : Mojave Desert
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Mojave Desert History - Pioneer of the Mojave
Outlaws on the Mojave

Horse Thieves Trafficking on the Desert

Other secessionist horse thieves also used the roads leading east and south out of San Bernardino, while some escaped north through Cajon Pass and then traveled east on their return to Texas. However, during 1861 the majority of thefts were committed by local men who were running horses into Utah, and it was speculated that profit was the motive.

After several horse-stealing incidents in April of 1861, the Los Angeles Star commented on the increasing activity, stating, "There seems to be a great demand for horses somewhere in the adjoining Territories, and those in want of them seem to know how to procure them cheap, without cash." Right in the path of the horse thieves trafficking on the upper Mojave was Lane's Crossing. Aaron Lane was in great danger, for the next several months in particular, from criminal elements all around.

In early June another theft occurred involving Don Ygnacio Palomares, a prominent Californio and owner of the north half of the Rancho San Jose (Pomona), which he called San Jose de Arriba. Palomares had been tending a herd of his cattle on the Mojave, and upon leaving the desert to return to his ranch, he encountered six Americans driving more than 20 of his own cattle, horses and mules out into the desert.

Palomares stopped to pass the time of day and exchange pleasantries with the thieves before hurrying back to his ranch to get help. He and his vaqueros caught up with the thieves, and what was described as a "short contest" took place. One man was killed in the confrontation -- an Indian whom the Americans had placed in charge of the stolen livestock. The Americans escaped with most of the animals, but several mares were recovered, along with the thieves' baggage. Included in the baggage were several daguerreotypes of men "well-known" in San Bernardino.

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ecology: wildlife - plants - geography: places - MAPS - roads & trails: route 66 - old west - communities - weather - glossary
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