Keys Ranch, Joshua Tree National Park

Keys Ranch (or Desert Queen Ranch) in Joshua Tree National Park was built and extended between 1910 and the 1960s. The building structures are still in place and so are some of the mining machinery, old cars and trucks, and spare parts. Short history of Keys Ranch Many rugged individuals tried their luck at cattle ranching, mining, and homesteading in the high desert. And so was Bill Keys, whose colorful life story (includes a murder and prison time) shows the hard work and ingenuity it took to settle and prosper in the Mojave Desert. Keys owned a number of mines where he dug for gold and gypsum. He operated a stamp mill, crushed ore, built a dam, and created a lake. Is it all a pile of junk? Many abandoned cars and trucks were left behind when Bill Keys died and the ranch became defunct. Bed frames, old machinery and tools, spare parts are now scattered around and as you walk through the area, watch where you step. The visit left me a little unsettled. The ranch is listed as a National Historic Register Site, but I felt it was more of a junk yard than preserved history. I guess … Continue reading Keys Ranch, Joshua Tree National Park