Family trips to the desert are a time for memories and for taking photos that help us remember. Years go by, our lives change, and one day it’s time to decide what to do with the vast quantities of mementos we accumulate throughout our lives. Those musty old prints and dusty boxes of slides deep in your closet or up in the attic may now be in need of a new home. Joshua Tree National Park (formerly Joshua Tree National Monument) is seeking old photos, prints, slides, or other visual documentation of park historic sites, mines, homesteads, and other historic properties associated with its early history.
While the park has a good number of historic photographs on file, many homesteads, homesteaders, mining areas, and miners are poorly represented. Interior views of park historic structures are especially rare. Photographs have proven to be extremely valuable in documenting the history of the park.
Home to the Keys family from 1910 to 1969 and now open to the public on guided tours, Desert Queen Ranch (Keys Ranch) offers an excellent example of what life was like on a desert homestead during the 20th century. Since the ranch continues to intrigue visitors, park staff would like to be able to show the buildings and life there as accurately and richly as possible. Historic architects contracted by the National Park Service are conducting archival and site research on Keys Ranch furnishings. The resulting report will help park staff improve its portrayal of homestead life and allow visitors to encounter experiences largely missing from life today.
If you have old photos of the park’s historic structures, please contact Melanie Spoo, museum curator (760/367-5571, e-mail us) or Hannah Nyala West, park historian (760/367-5576, e-mail us). Photographs, stories concerning the park, or questions about the park’s historic preservation activities are welcome.