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Mojave Desert History

History is a record or narrative aggregate of past events. In human history, specifically, the history of the Mojave Desert, we can arrange these events in a chronological order grouping them into more generalized periods according to the people during these times. We identify these people through their concerns and activities in general or specific locations. These points of historical interest become the geographic focus in history as well as events that have happened enroute between these locations.

History in these categories overlap. Few periods are defined with a start and finish, some haven't yet come to an end and are still evolving (ie: Desert Indians). The best that can be done is to assemble these histories so they can not only be studied in a chronological order, but also according to theme, as somewhat simultaneous events and occurances in a variety of regional locations.

Unveiling the Enigmatic Mojave Desert: A Journey Through its Rich History

The Mojave Desert, with its vast expanse and otherworldly landscapes, holds within its rugged terrain a captivating history that spans centuries. Nestled between the Great Basin and the Sonoran Desert, the Mojave Desert has been witness to the ebb and flow of human civilization, leaving behind a tapestry of stories and remnants that continue to intrigue and fascinate. Join us on a journey through time as we uncover the hidden treasures of the Mojave Desert's captivating history.

Native American Heritage: The First Inhabitants

Long before European explorers arrived, the Mojave Desert was home to Native American tribes such as the Chemehuevi, Mojave, and Serrano. These resilient tribes adapted to the harsh desert environment, developing unique cultures and mastering survival techniques. Discover how they thrived in harmony with the land, their spiritual practices, and the legacy they left behind.

Spanish Explorers: The Quest for New Frontiers

In the 16th century, Spanish explorers ventured into the Mojave Desert, driven by a thirst for discovery and a desire to expand their empire. These intrepid explorers, such as Francisco GarcÚs and Juan Bautista de Anza, journeyed through the desert, leaving behind a trail of tales and establishing connections between Spanish settlements in California. Learn about their encounters with Native American tribes and the impact of their expeditions on the region.

The California Gold Rush: Dreams and Prospects

In the mid-1800s, the discovery of gold in California set off a frenzy that reached even the arid lands of the Mojave Desert. Desperate prospectors, known as "forty-niners," braved the harsh desert conditions in search of their fortunes. Explore the tales of mining camps, ghost towns, and the rise and fall of the desert's boomtowns, which sprung up almost overnight.

The Mojave Road: A Historic Trail

Stretching over 130 miles, the Mojave Road served as an essential route for pioneers, explorers, and military expeditions during the 19th century. Discover the challenges faced by travelers along this treacherous trail, from the scorching heat to the scarcity of water and how it shaped the development of the desert region.

The Route 66 Era: America's Highway Through the Desert

In the early 20th century, the iconic Route 66 brought a wave of travelers through the Mojave Desert. Explore the stories of bustling roadside diners, quirky motels, and the people who made their living along this historic highway. Discover how the advent of the interstate highway system led to the decline of Route 66, leaving behind a nostalgic legacy that still echoes through the desert.


The history of the Mojave Desert is as vast and diverse as the desert itself. From the Native American tribes who called it home to the explorers, prospectors, and pioneers who left their mark, the Mojave Desert's history is a captivating tale of resilience, discovery, and transformation. As we traverse its arid landscapes, let us not forget the rich tapestry of stories that lie beneath the surface, waiting to be uncovered and celebrated.

W. Feller

Native Cultures

Historical Eras


Top Down History

The Modern Epoch

Profiles in Mojave History

Mining History

Military History

Historic Roads & Trails

Regional Histories

Books, Diaries & Journals


Mojave River Trail

Waterman, Calico & Bismarck

Land of Little Rain

History of Cajon Pass

The Story of Inyo

Mountain Meadows

20 Mule Team, Death Valley - Daggett Museum

Mojave River Narrows

Ox Ranch, Mojave Preserve

Introduction:: Nature:: Map:: Points of Interest:: Roads & Trails:: People & History:: Ghosts & Gold:: Communities:: BLOG:: :?:: glossary
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