Live in the Desert; Live Longer

113 Today I spent some time in a secret archive in the Public Library here in Joshua Tree. Penny who works there is the most helpful, and she showed me lots of old files about the history of Joshua Tree. I am really intrigued by the homesteading that took place out here from the 1930s until the 1970s. The Small Tract Act was passed in 1938, homesteaders could build small structures on 5 acres, and be deeded the land by the Bureau of Land Management. Penny was telling me about a certain Colonel E B Moore who heavily promoted the Desert Lifestyle, specifically the "little piece of heaven" that was the 5-acre tract of land. He set up an office in downtown JT, where the Mojave Land Trust is now located (also an entity interested in the definition and functioning of the land in the desert). By 1955, 43,000 5-acre tracts had been filed, it was desert fever! Joshua Tree was known at the 5 Acre Capital of the World!  Thousands of small cabins (only had to be 12 x 6 ft !) still dot this landscape. This myth and magic of desert living for some was just that; they could not handle the harshness of this land, now many lay abandoned with the tell-tale overhanging roofs angeled upward towards the sky. Stay tuned for more thoughts related to homesteading. I am planning an event celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Homesteading Act. 114


Stephanie Smith
January 22, 2013 - 2:27pm

hi! i'd love to help you organize something for the 150th anniversary of the homestead act... (when is it???)