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Mojave Desert History - Pioneer of the Mojave
Riding Out the Civil War

Floods of 1862

Indians and secessionists were not the only troubles besetting the area; the largest storm of record in San Bernardino County occurred in early 1862. Terrible floods, which began in January and continued into February and March, devastated the entire area.
Soda Lake in the Mojave Preserve flooded
A flooded Soda Lake

The February 1, 1862, Los Angeles Star praised the soldiers at Camp Carleton for their help during the floods, saying they "rendered good service in saving the lives of many women and children. Several families who were entirely destitute, were taken to Camp Carleton, and provided with tents and provisions." The February 22nd issue lamented the horrible destruction wrought by the storms:
    ...our once beautiful valley now present[s] a scene of wild desolation and distress. Large fields of luxuriant grain and beautiful pasture lands, together with the fences, are entirely swept away -- leaving only high sand banks, drift-wood, and other sediment, to mark their former existence.

    The Agua Mansa, a once beautiful and flourishing settlement, is entirely destroyed -- not a single vestige of anything left to denote that ever such a place existed. The suffering and loss of property of the people of this settlement is indescribable.
The mountains and desert also were inundated by the rains. The toll road in Cajon Pass washed out and it was closed to the mail and freight-hauling. The normally placid waters of the Mojave turned into a raging torrent, and the flow continued all the way to Soda Lake, which had filled up. A man attempting to cross it became mired in the lake bed, and went to Lane's to get assistance in pulling his wagon out. Lane took a team of oxen and extricated the wagon in what were difficult and dangerous circumstances. According to the Star, this was the first time Soda Lake had filled up since the coming of white men.

With Cajon Pass cut off and Soda Lake nearly impassable, the Mojave River settlers were virtually isolated, and while it is probable they all sustained some damage from the storms, Lane himself would not have incurred too much, perched as he was fairly high up on the bank of the river.

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