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Mojave Desert History > Names in History

Fr. John Crowley


December 8, 1891 - September, 1940

A Catholic priest who served in the Owens Valley and desert area in the 1920s and 30s, instrumental in dispelling the "Water Wars" of the Owens Valley.


Father John J. Crowley, also known as the "Desert Padre," was a Catholic priest who played a significant role in the communities of Inyo County and parts of San Bernardino and Mono Counties in California during the early 20th century. He was born on December 8, 1891, in County Kerry, Ireland, and his family emigrated to Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1903. Crowley entered Holy Cross College in 1911, where he became an active participant in college life, contributing stories, essays, and poems to the college journal, The Purple, and serving as its editor-in-chief during his senior year.

Father Crowley was known for his dedication to serving the spiritual, social, and economic needs of his parishioners in the vast and sparsely populated areas of eastern California. He was deeply concerned about the lives of his parishioners and worked to make a difference in their communities, regardless of their religion. This commitment led to his nickname, the "Desert Padre," reflecting his ministry in the desert regions of California, including areas around Death Valley.

One of the landmarks associated with Father Crowley is Crowley Lake, named in his honor. This lake formed behind a dam built by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to help regulate the flow of water to Los Angeles. Additionally, Father Crowley Vista Point in Rainbow Canyon is named after him, highlighting his frequent stops there to admire the views on his way to or from visiting parishioners in Death Valley and his home in Lone Pine, CA.

Father Crowley's legacy is remembered for his contributions to the spiritual and social upliftment of his community, as well as for the natural landmarks named in his honor, commemorating his life and work in the region.



OpenAI. (2024). ChatGPT (4) [Large language model]. https://chat.openai.com

Lone Pine

Owens Valley

Padre Crowley Point




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