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Mojave Desert History - Pioneer of the Mojave
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Ranch Washed Out by Floods

No sooner did he recover from the fire, however, than his ranch was washed out by floods during a period of heavy rainstorms that began in December of 1867 and continued through January. As early as December 14th there was difficulty traversing the Mojave Road, and the mail stage was unable to get through Cajon Pass. Two weeks later the scope of the flooding, which was just becoming known, was reported in the press:
    ...continuous heavy rain has brought upon this locality a flood such as has not before visited us within the recollection of the present residents. Heretofore, the year 1862 was cited as the year of the flood; this year has outflooded that one.
The rains were relentless. The newspapers became full of reports of rain-related disasters throughout the county. The Mojave Valley was inundated. Lane had built his house on a high rise of ground along the river bottom, and though the waters rose up all around him and his livestock ran off, his home was safe on an island. The editor of the Guardian commiserated with Captain Lane's circumstances, and then jokingly commented that Lane, stranded on his isle in the sea of water, was "master of Crusoe's situation, being monarch of all he surveyed."

In early January, after a delay of several days, the mail from Arizona finally succeeded in making the difficult passage through the Mojave. The mail expressmen reported that the wayside stations had been washed away, and noted that the "chances for entertainment" were not good. They said, however, that they believed "Captain Lane still holds forth."

The rain finally abated and Lane rounded up any stock he could find so he could resume ranching. Since he never wrote about any of these reversals, the extent of his losses is unknown. Though he may have lost his outbuildings and fences, his crops evidently benefited from the rich silt flooding over the property, as can seen by this advertisement that he ran in the Guardian from October 1867 clear through into March 1868:

Lane announced his decision with this ad that he would begin calling himself "Captain" again, a title he had used previously but had dropped. Exactly how and when he assumed this honorific is unknown. He may have earned it during his years in Ione, for it was the practice of the miners to bestow military titles upon their leaders and organizers. Being called "Captain" would have appealed to Lane, since he preferred not to use his given name. However he came by it, during his years on the desert the title became associated with his Mexican War service, a misconception he may have fostered, or at least neglected to correct.

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