PRICE 10 CENTS   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   ONLY ONE LOUSY THIN DIME
Might Be a Collector's Item Some Day                                                                                

Drop It Sister . . . It's a Man's Book

Desert Rat Scrap Book logo

Two of Three


Only Newspaper in America you can open in the wind


This paper is not entered as second class mail. It's a first class newspaper.

Desert Rat Scrap Book small logo

Packet Two of Pouch Three

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Smallest newspaper in the world and the only 5 page one.


Published at Fort Oliver
1000 Palms, California
Four Times a Year

But sometimes they don't have them.
Darned if I am going to the trouble of mailing it for nothing.

10 Years ................... $5.00
100 Years ...................$50.00
Something to think about!

Pack Rat

Published by
Fort Commander
Lamp Lighter

Pack Rat


    Pictures are by the author, many of them are woodcuts. I did all but the spelling.

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This material, pictures and writing is copyrighted—and branded.



Pack Rat

Keller Tops Me

    Nomenclature (place names) from Scrap Book of Harry Oliver: Think of working on the graveyard shift in the Coffin Mine by Tombstone Flat in the Funeral Range, near Poison Spring in Death Valley.

    There are probably 100 or more lethal place names which portray the experiences of the immigrants and early prospectors: Suicide Canyon, Dead Man's Gulch, Starvation Canyon, Skeleton Mine, Sure Death Canyon, Last Chance Range, Tomesha, Dantes Inferno.
  —Says L. Floyd Keller

Shack Making The Pictures
For This Paper . . .

By Your Editor Artist
First printed in Life—1932

    Whenever days move slow at Fort Oliver I take to making woodcuts of my desert friends. I was always a little short on talent, experience and wood.
    Last time the Widow Winchester was here she looked out back of Old Fort Oliver and said, kinda stern and reprovin', "Harry, 'fore you go much further with this wood-cuttin' foolishness of yours, you better move up in the hills among the trees.

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    The wildflowers at Ft. Oliver were so thick this spring you could hardly see the discarded beer cans.

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    Old timers of Yuma, Blythe, Needles, Kingman, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon and Salton Sea — the next packet is to be the Colorado River Packet. Let's have some stories of this river in the desert. Send them in. Make them all tall but short and funny.


    One of the greatest labor saving devices of today is mañana.
    Tact: When you think of something and don't put it in your paper.     (Whiz Bang stuff)
    To avoid trouble, breathe through the nose. It keeps the mouth shut.

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Printer's Note

    It's a fine situation when a country printer gets all through modernizing his plant, with the newest modern type faces, and along comes an old rascal like Harry Oliver, wih his odds and ends of type that were museum pieces at the turn of the century. If he let's us use any of our own stuff, he inspects the case first to make sure it has collected the proper amount of dust — the patina of the graphic arts.
    Harry is nuts about old things, and will collect most any desert relic, provided it is sufficiently aged. He's so fond of his 22-year-old Ford station wagon that he wouldn't trade it for a new one — refers to its finish as antique maple.
    He likes the old bonanza days buildings of Randsburg and wishes someone would steal all the neon signs that spoil their antique flavor. "We should nip this modernization before it goes too far," says Harry. "Make a national monument or something out of it, before it starts to look like thousands of other small towns."

    Editor's Note — Paul Hubbard is a veteran editor of the Rand Mining District, a live wire, a man who makes things happen. We can thank him for the Death Valley Centennial Pagaent.

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I am calling this the
to take care of any hundred-year-old jokes that might have sneaked in when I was not looking.   —Ed.

Death Valley Going To Rack And Ruin

Steer Skull     T. R. Goodwin, Superindendent of Death Valley National Monument, writes that one of the common questions asked by visitors to that area is: "Where is the monument?"
    "Most of the questioners," Superintendent Goodwin adds, "have in mind an impressive building or piece of statuary and are greatly surprised to learn that Death Valley National Monument comprises nearly 2,000,000 acres of typical desert basin and that there is no 'monument.'"
    Not long a go Superintendent Goodwin received the following letter from a representative of a paint manufacturing concern: "Formula X has been tested on several national monuments. It does not change the color of the surface yet it penetrates deeply into the stone preventing the absorption of water, weather, and deterioration." Comments Superintendent Goodwin: "Such a letter tempts one to ask the writer to submit an estimate of the quantity of his product required to protect Death Valley from weathering and deterioration."

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Lo Young
Unsolved Mystery

    Who was it that sneaked down the back alleys of Darwin for a week after he had forgoten to close the faucet on the wine barrel after appropriating a jugful — circa 1915.
Retold by Matt Ryan, Old Timer of Death Valley

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    In Death Valley Hell's Gate is located near Daylight Pass. Some 25 miles south is Breakfast Canyon. Visitors in Death Valley will find, therefore, the only place in the world where they can drive from Hell to Breakfast in less than two hours.

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Hung Up His Saddle

stew Pot     Doc A. A. Beaty, oldest old timer of Borego Desert, died June 1st at 78.
    Doc used to tell me Peg-Leg Smith stories 33 years ago . . . I remember camping in Rockhouse Canyon . . . We were 2 days getting our deer . . . We had a little grease, some salt, pepper and a bit of flour . . . Doc's magic sure made that "fried mescal" taste good.
    I will think of Doc daily as I look up at the peak of Santa Rosa. Yes, I was riding one of Doc's horses back in 1916, and took my first look at this desert that clear day as my teacher pointed out, from our great height, De Anza's trail of 1774, talked of Peg-Leg's lost mine, the Salton Sea, mountain lions, and smuggled Chinamen.
    We will sure miss Doc at the camp fire next Peg-Leg hunt, come January first 1950.
  —Your Editor.

Packet 2, Pouch 3     Harry Oliver's DESERT RAT SCRAP BOOK     Page 3

Shorty Harris

Single Blanket Jackass Prospector

Burro     Shorty Harris' burial beside Jim Dayton in lower Death Valley was quite an occasion. Four hundred CCC boys, an army chaplain and a goodly gathering of desert rats and interested visitors gathered at the site near Eagle Borax and awaited arrival of the hearse from Bishop, as the sun dropped to the crest of Telescope Peak.
    All day two old miner friends had been digging the grave aided and abetted by a jug of firewater hidden behind a clump of greasewood.
    When the casket arrived and was measured the grave was too short as the diggers had figured on the length of the "Short Man" and not the coffin.
    As the sun dropped behind the Panamints and the chaplain and mourners fidgeted uneasily, a voice came from the grave.
    "Bend the so and so in the middle and let's plant him. He won't give a damn."
    However it wasn't feasible to bend a coffin but it was lowered on an angle and Shorty was buried with his head up.
  —Told by T. R. Goodwin, Superintendent Death Valley National Monument

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   Death Valley

    Encelia, a desert sunflower, excretes a venom lethal to other plants. Growing sparsely, each plant apparently requires a large area from which to draw moisture and nutriment. In nature, individual plants are surrounded by a large circular barren spot. Production of the "weed killer" compound seems to be an hereditary adaptation. Other plants, including poison ivy, secrete toxins which repel animals. Some of the lower animals are able to poison their natural enemies. Encelia, however, is the only known plant that kills other plants. Some cacti produce an alkaloid, Mescaline, which can induce delusions of color and music in humans.
  —L. Floyd Keller, Park Naturalist

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    Many years ago, an Indian and two other men were riding across the Inyo lava beds. They'd been in the saddle since early morning, and their talk got around to the big dinner they expected to eat when they got to town. When the Indian was asked if he was hungry, however, his answer was "No."
    They soon reached their destination and ordered steaks with all the trimmings.
    The Indian wolfed down everything in sight. One of his companions remarked to the redskin that only an hour ago he'd said he wasn't hungry.
    "No use be hungry back there," the Indian replied, "no food."
  —Retold from a story by Senator Charles Brown of Shoshone

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    Dry Camp Blackie is wasting most of the summer. His determined effort to teach my dog, "Whiskers," to wag his tail up and down instead of sideways is ending a total failure.

     . . . You don't notice the heat so much though if you got something to do.

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Liminatin Lem Poetry Department
Desert Efficiency Expert

You pound and thump
    the ketchup bottle;
First nothing comes,
    and then a lot'll.

By Pete
From Brewery Gulch Gazette,
Bisbee, Arizona

    Your poetry expert wishes to say, that's the kind of poetry we want, human interest, and a gag in four lines. Most people are showing off with words when they write poetry and don't say nothin'. To the writers of the many letters received with poems enclosed, to you folks my advice is to get a joke book and rewrite your poem, cut it to four lines and if it is fun and of the Desert send it in agin, to
Liminatin' Lem,
          Editor Poetry Department

    P.S. If you are in love and write poetry for the one you love go ahead use eight lines, but don't let outsiders see the stuff, and don't use the joke book, just put it away for a few years, it'll be funny.

    Editor's Note: —Lem's the fellow that said, worst part of doing nothing is you can never take any time off. I am glad to have him along doing some thing, like being poetry editor.

Desert Scene

Retold by Matt Ryan

    Johnny Shoshone, the oldest of the Death Valley tribe of Indians, had just purchased a once elegant old Pierce Arrow auto. It has seen many moons too — and wasn't too well preserved, but it ran. The following conversation took place between Johnny and a Death Valley resident who had just purchased a new 1949 Mercury.
    Johnny: "How much your car cost?"
    D. V. Resident: "About $3,000 Johnny. Why?"
    Johnny: "How much my car cost?"
    D. V. Resident: "Probably about $5,000 when it was new Johnny."
    Johnny, with much feeling, swelling of the chest and squaring of the shoulders, "Huh."

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Egg Packer
Of The Panamints
By George Palmer Putnam

Mule Pack    Eggs are just about the meanest things to pack — they're easy to break and they waste space. That's because they're round. If eggs were square, you could stack them.
    My friend Todd does a lot of packing, mostly to mines around Death Valley. On the side he has a chicken ranch over in the Panamints. He's been working on this problem of eggs for a long time. The other day he blew into our hotel at Stovepipe Wells.
    "By gum, Major," he confided over his second double bourbon, "I've got it licked!"
    "The eggs?"
    "Yes, sir. Come and have a look."
    Outside he took one of the kyacks off his pack mule. Sure enough there were four dozen of the squarest eggs you'd want to see, repacked in an old tobacco carton the way you'd stack kids' blocks. Snug. They fit right together.
    "In the same space I can carry twice as many as the old fashioned kind. No jiggling around. No breakage."
    "Todd," I told him, "your fortune's made."
    "Could be," he admitted, as he took my order for fifty dozen. I figured the square eggs would be a novelty for guests at Stovepipe.
    I'll be a bit slow making delivery," Todd cautioned. 'Just now I'm working with individual hens. You know, it's so hell's fire hot at my ranch, the eggs are melted pretty soft when they come out. Sorta pliable. All we have to do is drop them in those ice-cube containers. They cool off fine and hard. AND square. Soon's I get production organized, we got a new industry for Death Valley."

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Cow Poke
Cow Poke in Desert

    "There's only two things a cow puncher is afraid of, a decent woman and bein' left afoot.

    And the desert rat he's not afraid of bein' afoot.

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    Ideal weather is weather not to cold for beer and not too hot for whiskey. —Matt Weinstock

    And in the old days whiskey was cheaper'n water in Randsburg.

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    John Shoshone, said to be 104, the oldest of the Death Valley Indians aspires to the presidency of the United States. He believes he can qualify to be the fourth great President. The thought was born during the last general election when a visitor related the pun that "We have had three great presidents to date: George Washington, who never told a lie; Franklin D. Roosevelt, who never told the truth; and H. S. Truman, who doesn't know the difference."   —L. F. K.

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    In Death Valley there is (Lake) Manly Bar at Daylight (Pass), Golden Glow in Mustard Canyon, and "Moonshine" at Gnomes Workshop.

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Coyote A Tilt At Windmills
Death Valley Tough On Ph. D's.

    The geological structure of Death Valley is considered to be intricate. Research by National Park Service employees has portrayed some facts, but aid is welcomed from Ph.D's of Universities. It has been noted, however, that some of these professors are overconfident and after securing leave from college teaching and comence making observations here, there comes a time of making inventory of findings. If they learn there are no conclusions to make, they may rush into the field, gnash teeth, pull their own hair, and take to heavy drinking. When they start beating their wives, the Rangers round them together, load them on trucks and haul them back to the University of California.
    Says L. Floyd Keller, Death Valley Naturalist

No Echo
Jesse James Benton Remembers

    Squalls of the mountain lions and howls of the lobo wolves make no echo in a mountain country. With dogs barking and wolves howling at the same time, the dog's barking will echo, but the wolve's howls will not, the same with lions and spotted jaguars.


    Nature's protection for helpless little fawns — is that they have no odor or scent — dogs can smell a bear or wolf a mile away, but will pass a fawn and not know it.

Death Valley

"You come into this world all naked and bare;
Travel through life with its sorrow and care.
When you die you go to you know not where;
But if you're the real thing here, you'll be it There."

  "Now chew on that awhile." Says Scotty.
— Thanks to Ranger Sam Houston, ....
    Death Valley

George Pipkin

    Writing his Desert Sands column tells this one.

    If I didn't know this to be true I wouldn't believe it. Dad Revert of Beatty put a nickel in a slot machine and won five nickels; changing the nickels for a quarter he placed the quarter in a machine and won four quarters. Changing the quarters for a silver dollar he put it in a dollar machine and pulled the lever. He hit the $100 jackpot.
    Dad's fame spread like flame around town. Not only was he dollared to death, but strangers rushed up to congratulate him. The other day an unknown young woman embraced him and cried excitedly, "Oh, are you really the man who hit the hundred dollar jackpot?" Slowly disentangling himself, Dad answered, "Yes, I am, lady. And I'm selling picture postcards of myself for 50 cents apiece. Would you like to buy half a dozen?" The woman murmured a hasty no, and retired to the seclusion of her Tom Collins.
    Which reminds me of the time a school teacher took her class to see a slot machine and to lecture them on the evils of playing them. Furthering the point on how the machines always took your money, she put in a nickel and hit the jackpot.

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Prickly Pear

    James Dayton's grave is located near Badwater, the lowest place in the Western Hemisphere. This man is said to be buried deeper than any other man known.

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    Animals talk to each other, of course. There can be no question about that; but I suppose there are very few people who can understand them.

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½ Cactus     ½ Burro

Prickly Pear Burro     While some people believe that virtually no life exists in Death Valley befcause it is the hottest and most arid region in the western hemisphere, if not the world, this National Monument supplies an all-year habitat below sea level for 16 species of birds (182 species have been recorded including migrants); 28 mammals (plus the exotic burro); 12 lizards (plus 6 other potentials); 10 snakes (with 9 other probabilities)) 4 amphibians, 1 salamander (1 tree toad Hyla, 1 toad Bufo, 1 frog Rana); 2 species of fish, cyprindons, (plus one exotic goldfish.) Insects are common with several endemics among them. There are four species of scorpions, and some other arachnids; spiders, ticks, harvesters, mites, salgupids, vinegarones.
    There are crustacea, millipeds, entipedes.
    There are 615 species of plants in the Monument and 22 of these are endemic. T. R. Goodwin, Keeper of the Vinegarones

    Editor's Note:   It's said of T. R. Goodwin that he's lived in the desert so long he knows all the lizards by their first names. EXCEPT THE YOUNGER SET.


    For years Johnny Shoshone enjoyed the exclusive right as a photographers model. It started one day in Wildrose Canyon when a Washington official, escorted by the Superintendent, met the old Indian on a riding burro, with a 30 carbine across the saddle and a pack burro following behind.
    The Washington man, a movie camera addict, asked Johnny how much to take his picture. "Ya Ya, Oui Oui, Si Si, Sure, two bits" was the unexpected reply.
    Winters at Furnace creek yielded a rich crop of two-bit pieces until a motion picture company arrived and so incessant was the demand that some joker told him he was too cheap, and the price went up to four bits.
    Early in the 1948-49 season a burro man with a miniature prairie schooner of four burros drove in to Furnace Creek, made camp in the Mesquite and every morning was parked in front of Furnace Creek Ranch gathering in the tourist shekels for the privelege of being photographed. Johnny's business declined rapidly and he was quite unhappy but couldn't figure a way to beat out his rival.
    The Ranch gift shop had stocked an assorted lot of cheap imitation Indian headdresses to sell to children. No Panamint Indian had ever worn a feathered top piece but Johnny got an idea. He bought one of the gaudiest in the shop, laid aside his battered black Stetson and appeared in the brilliant regalia.
    The trick worked and the burro man was deserted for pictures of the savage red man. After a few days the burro man packed up and silently stole away and Johnny threw away his feathers and went back to the Stetson.   "T. R. Goodwin, Death Valley National Monument"

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Ram skull tiny


    The elusive and seldom seen Death Valley mountain sheep could be seen by anyone happening to stop at the Indian Ranch in Panamint Valley twenty years ago. At that time a ram had mingled with the domestic sheep of the Indians and become so tame that it became a pet. (Picture is available to substantiate this story.)   —Matt Ryan

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    Remember when the storekeeper used to plug the spout of the coal-oil can with a spud? Nowadays taters sell by the pound.

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    Remember when girls bit their lips to make them red?

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    Remember when you as a boy crawled under a tent to see the circus, and discovered it was a revival meeting?

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Dry Camp Balckie Dry Camp Blackie sez, Some fellows get credit for being gracious and generous when they've only been drinking.


    A tourist walked into the patio at Old Fort Oliver, headed for the water-cooling olla, grabbed the largest cup and started to help himself.
    Dry Camp Blackie and Whiskers, my dog, had 3 of their 4 eyes closed, but Whiskers growled and Blackie opened his eyes enough to see what's up, then says to the tourist, "Better take my cup, the smaller one to the right. Whiskers doesn't like strangers to use his."

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Kashin Dizert

    Dry Camp Blackie is satisfied as to the worth of old Kishin's newly developed dehydrated water pills — Blackie walked across Dry Lake with his hat off in the midday sun, put the pill in a glass of water — and by gosh he had a glass of water.

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    Ever wonder what little Indian boys do when they reach the cowboy-and-Indians stage? Bert Walker, Pima Indian and columnist for the San Jacinto Valley Register, explained it in a story he told the Idyllwild Chamber of Commerce. His two sons returned home from a hard afternoon playing cowboys and Indians and Bert broke into their chatter with, "You were Indians, of course?" "Naw," they said knowingly, "we were the good guys!"
—Matt Weinstock's Colunmn

    Newspapermen:   If you use this you should say from Harry Oliver's Desert Rat Scrap Book who got it from Matt Weinstock's column in the Los Angeles Daily News — 10 to one you don't.

Page 4                     Death Valley Packet
This Page is Dedicated to the World's Greatest Optimist – The Desert Prospector

"We got gold this time — lots of it."

Harry Oliver's

The Sky They Rode In

Prickly Pear     Death Valley Park Ranger Stan Jones burst into sudden fame with national publicity on radio, in newspaper, magazines including Time, Newsweek on May 2, and Life June 27. Life photographers, newsreelers, newspaper reporters, motion picture directors trailed him through his patrols. His music in on the air "Roweling High." The first to take him to fortune is Riders In the Sky. He has contracted 28 other songs to appear.
    He was born on the Desert and has lived 20 years on it, and three-fourths of his life outdoors. He says "I will always be a "brush monkey" at heart.   —L. Floyd Keller

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Fort Oliver Side Colonel Phat's
Fort Oliver Dispatches

Editor Desert Sun

Swank Palm Springs Newspaper

    TWICE IN THE SAME PLACE said Harry Oliver as he came in this morning . . . A few weeks ago Dry Camp Blackie took him for $1.80 in a tumble weed race by slipping in some flat-sided weeds which wouldn't roll as fast as Blackie's round ones . . . This week he said he lost $2.60 on a cock fight and after the dust blew away he found Blackie's rooster was a road runner with its tail cut off . . . Speaking of alarm clocks, Oliver doesn't use an alarm clock . . . He has a burro that brays regularly an hour before sunrise and at sunrise, on the dot.

*   *

    BACK IN TOWN this week was Harry Oliver who, with Dry Camp Blackie, comprises the garrison at Fort Oliver over at 1,000 Palms . . . He had two new ones . . . One, he's going into competition with Avak . . . "Speaking of faith cures," he said, "the other night my right leg ached so I couldn't sleep. Reached into the medicine cabined and got out the Sloan's liniment . . . Rubbed it on, the aching stopped and I slept like a baby . . . Next morning, found I had missed the bottle of Sloan's liniment in the dark and used furniture polish instead." . . . He said cement-laden trucks come down the hill from Garnet to 1,000 Palms so fast, they bounce off an average of six sacks of cement each . . . Blackie is going to write to the company telling them how they can save thousands of dollars a year . . . "Just load six less sacks on each truck," he says.

*   *

    ONE WORRY, what has become of Harry Oliver, was ended this week . . . Dry Camp Blackie trekked in with a note telling how things are in Thousand Palms. . . . "Phat," Oliver wrote, "do you know of anyone who wants a 12-foot horned toad?< She's for sale." . . . It all stems back to the recent Desert Circus parade when a local guest ranch asked Oliver to build them a float with a huge horned toad on it. . . . He did and he made it realistic . . . After the circus he took it to Fort Oliver, his 'dobe' he's building at Thousand Palms. "The burro still brays, my dog, Whiskers, still barks when I wend my way through the 300-odd potted cactus to my front door — but the place isn't the same, it's haunted, haunted by a great, big, baleful-eyed horned toad. Doesn't anyone want it?"

    Phat would be my best press agent if he would only mention my paper once in a while.

Only One World Famous

Valerie Jean Date Shop

11 Miles South of Indio on Highway 99
or Please Mail Your Order
1-lb. Finest Dates and Confections, $1.30
3-lbs. Finest Dates and Confections, 3.50
Including Delivery—write for Folder

Thermal, Calif.


Play In the Sun, In the Water and Under the Wind

Salton Sea

250 Feet Below Sea Level
Swimming and Boating
Desert and Seashore Homesites

9½ Miles East of Mecca, California


Cross     During the early days in Death Valley National Monument, all the entrance checking-stations were manned with CCC boys.
    The favorite question of incoming visitors was, "Whereabouts is the Monument?" Quite recently an Eastern visitor stopped at headquarters and complained bitterly that she had driven 100 miles out of her way to see the Monument and all it amounted to was a little pile of rocks with a cross sticking out.
    What she had seen was the lonely grave of Estevan Esteves, Portuguese rock mason par excellence, who built the artistic stone work around Furnace Creek Inn and Ranch. Some of his friends had erected a small but artistic monument to his memory close to Furnace Creek Inn.   "Thanks to T. R. Goodwin, Superintendent"

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    George Putnam reports that the two questions most often asked at Stove Pipe Wells are:
     (1) How hot does it get in summer?
     (2) How did Stove Pipe Wells get its name?
    Answers: (1) 119 degrees was the highest temperature recorded at Stove Pipe Wells this year — the hotel by the way keeps open all summer. The all-time Death Valley record is 134 degrees.
    (2) Prospectors travelling between what are now the ghost mining towns of Rhyolite and Skidoo dug for water near the Sand Dunes. To mark the hole, someone stuck a length of stove pipe in the sand beside it. Thus was born STOVE PIPE WELLS, the name subsequently adopted by the hotel.

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Buzzard     The maximum temperature recorded in Death Valley was 134°F. on July 10, 1913, which constituted the world's record until September 13, 1922 when 135°F. was reported at Azizia, Tripoli.
    The minimum for Death Valley occurred January 8, 1913 with 15°F.
    Average annual precipitation 2.41 inches. Average humidity 4. With occasional absolute zero.
    Research has determined that air temperature at five feet above ground does not exceed 120—F. for more than four hours.
    Temperature distribution from the sheltered thermometers (at 5 feet) indicating 125°F. to the ground surface follows.
            a. Air at 5 feet ............. 125 degrees F.
            b. Air at 1 foot ............ 150 degrees F.
            c. Air at 1 inch ............ 165 degrees F.
            d. Surface of ground ... 180 degrees F.
    By computation, the air temperature on the surface of ground can ge determined when the air temperature at 5 feet was 134°F. It would be hot enough on the ground surface to boil water or fry eggs and too hot for visitors to walk bare-footed.   —"T. R. Goodwin"

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$20,000 SHOT GUN

    Bob Thompson, son of Panamint Tom stopped the superintendent one day in Furnace Creek Wash and without parley demanded that the rangers get back his $20,000 shot gun from one Monroe Wagnon, an employee of the Death Valley Hotel Company.
    A $20,000 shot gun owned by an aged Indian was a new one in the Superintendent's experience and he asked for details.
    "Wag he borrow my gun and no give it back, cost me $20,000 and I want him quick."
    "What kind of shot gun cost $20,000?" inquired the Superintendent.
    "I show Shorty Harris big mine at Rhyolite. He sell it, get $20,000 and I get shotgun," replied Bob.   —"T. R. Goodwin, Death Valley Old Timer."

Here are two fine books about Death Valley to read and to give:

Death Valley And Its Country

The entertaining story of the Valley's history, character, tall tales, geology, animal life, plants, and ghost towns.

Hickory Shirt

A novel of the piponeers backgrounded on the discovery of the Valley one hundred years ago.

Both Written By
George Palmer Putnam

Published by
270 Madison Ave., New York 16, N.Y.

Knotts Ghost Town

All the World Loves a Showman . . .


    At 11 a swamper on a Twenty Mule Team. At 20 a champion cowboy with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show.
    The last 50 years he has lived in the desert (and on the front pages of the nation's newspapers.)

Death Valley Scotty

Death Valley Scotty's
Record Breaking Dash On The
As told by Lee Shipley, in his book
"It's An Old California Custom"
The Vanguard Press, 424 Madison Ave., New York 17, N.Y.   $3.00

    In July, 1905, Scotty rode into the Mojave Desert town of Barstow on a mule and announced he wanted to charter a special train to get to Chicago as quickly as possible. No one had ever chartered a special train from Barstow, though it is almost on the edge of the Calico Mining district and is the place where the first borax mining was done. Everyone got excited, and Scotty bought drinks for all. Then he chartered a special train to Los Angeles — despite his great hurry to get to Chicago — and by the time he got there newspaper stories that he had struck it rich in Death Valley had preceded him. Several hundred persons met the train with cheers and followed Scotty from the station to the Hollenbeck Hotel, then the city's best. Still forgetting his great hurry, Scotty received informally at the bar of the Hollenbeck and waited till next day to call on John J. Byrnes, general passenger agent of the Santa Fe west of Albuquerque.
    Then Scotty was in a hurry again. He talked as if he would buy the entire Santa Fe system if he had to in order to get to Chicago in forty-six hours which would have been record-breaking time.
    On July 9, 1905, the Coyote Special pulled out of Los Angeles. It carried only a small party: Scotty, his wife, Charlie Van Loan — a great newspaperman and short-story writer, Scotty's yellow dog, and a publicity man for the railroad. What there was of the train was as luxurious as could be. Even the menu was a showman's dream:

Caviar sandwiches a la Death Valley
Iced Consomme
Porterhouse a la Coyote, two inches thick
Squab on toast with strips of bacon au Scotty
Ice cream with colored trimmings
Cheese       Coffee       Cigars

    Scotty's dash for a speed record was the biggest news of the country. There were throngs at every station through which the special snorted. Wherever it stopped, big crowds gathered and shouted for only a look at Scotty, if they couldn't get a speech. The train had no time to stop at any towns in which there were no wire correspondents, but Charlie Van Loan had handouts for all the newspaper boys, big and little. The whole country panted as Scotty gained minutes and then hours on the schedule. Stations most of the country had never heard of got their names into the newspapers by wiring whether the train had gained or lost since it had left the latest previous station. "The little Arizona towns winked once at the Coyote and were lost in the darkness behind it." The crowds in little New Mexico towns could only shout: "Here she comes, there she goes!" Colorado and Kansas and Missouri forgot everything else to crowd to the stations, no matter at what time of day or night the train was due. Illinois made a holiday of the last day of the trip. And when Scotty had covered the 2,244¼ miles in forty-four hours and forty-four minutes he was the momentary hero of all the land. That was thirteen hours and five minutes faster than the Santa Fe's fastest scheduled limited train, and three hours six minutes faster than the contract called for.
    Chicago celebrated. The newspapers overflowed with Scotty. There were stories that he lighted cigars with ten-dollar bills. Thousands of persons were inspired by visions of going west and getting suddenly rich. Scotty's wife confided that the trip cost seventy thousand dollars.
    Showman Scotty remained in Chicago only long enough for the publicity to have its fling and went on to New York — as an ordinary passenger on the Twentieth-Century Limited. A New York paper heralded his coming by announcing: "Death Valley Scotty has taken $141,000,000 out of a mine in Death Valley and has spent nearly all. Julian M. Gerard, vice-president of the Knickerbocker Trust Company, once grubstaked Scotty for $4,000. Now that the mine has panned out rich Gerard comes in for half ownership."
    A crowd of about one thousand was at Grand Central Station when Scotty and his yellow dog detrained, and that afternoon he had to hold a levee at his hotel. He began it by ordering four quarts of whiskey for the reporters. He explained his yellow dog by saying that when he had been down and out in Los Angeles no one had befriended him, and he had rescued the dog from a crowd that was chasing it with rocks. He said he fed the dog milk out of a silver dish.
    But apparently there was no money to divvy with Gerard. When eventually the facts came out it was learned that the train had cost Scotty only fifty-five hundred dollars instead of seventy thousand dollars and had been paid for with hundred dollar bills. There is no record that scotty ever cashed in any large amounts of gold dust. In a trial in Los Angeles years later, Scotty testified he had paid for the train out of ten thousand dollars advance him by a New York mining engineer. No one can estimate the publicity value of the trip to the railroad.
    Editor's Note— Be nice if the Santa Fe would give Scotty another trip to Chicago and good publicity too. Your editor would glacly enter a race if the Union Pacific supplied a train and wanted to prove something or other.


Colorado's Best-Loved Burro

By Mrs. James Rove Harvey
From the Denver Post

Old Prunes      No tale of the burro in the west would be complete without the story of Old Prunes, Colorado's best-loved donkey. Old Prunes came to Fairplay in 1867. No one knew how old he was then, but he appeared so withered and wrinkled that the miners called him Prunes.
    He was a faithful old plugger, said to have worked in every mine in the Fairplay disctict. Prunes stayed so long underground that when his owners retired him, he had forgotten that he was supposed to eat grass; or perhaps it was just that his poor old teeth were too worn to chop it.
    Anyway, when he found that his food supply depended entirely upon his own initiative, he learned to go to back doors and paw upon the porch boards until someone rewarded him with flapjacks or dry bread.
    The children loved him. After school, they shared their cookies with him and took turns riding him up and down the streets of Fairplay. Gradually he became weaker and it was decided it would be more humane to end his worldly suffering.
    The day they buried Old Prunes there wasn't a dry eye in the town. A monument was built to Old Prunes, with chips of ore from the mines where he worked forming the inscription.
    When Robert Sherwood, old-time miner and companion of Prunes, died in 1931 at the age of 82, he was buried as he requested at the rear of Prunes' monument. There they lie, the old burro and the aged miner, together in death as they were so long in life.

I wish to thank Rob Scott of Denver for sending this story to me along with a picture of the Burro monument and graves.

Death Valley Country

    Most fabulous of the desert places of America is Death Valley, sultry and surprising, seen first by white men only a brief hundred years ago.
    The geologic story of the worlds creation is recorded here as nowhere else. Superlatives cling to it. Once called the deadliest sink, to be avoided at all costs, now it is the most visited, although with the scantiest permanent population. As well, it is the lowest, driest, and hottest place in America. It is so hot scorpions die in the sun, yet in the tourist season its prize view is best reached on snowshoes. It has the continent's newest land and the oldest. The first survey party used camels, and it was Chinese coolies who leveled a roadway across its salt flats.
    More improbable facts are true, and more fantastic falsehoods are told, of Death Valley than of any other like region.
    It has a "castle" that cost well over a million dollars, scores of miles from the nearest habitation, supposedly financed with a gold mine no one ever saw. There are mountains of borax, beds of salt eighteen hundred feet thick, streams that become smaller the farther they flow, lakes that dried up a million years ago, sardines pickled in brine that coyotes eat, fossil tracks of elephants and camels, superheated winds that bring ducks down dead if not roasted, frogs that sing scales, hills that move when the wind blows.
    In the region today there are no railroads, but some impressive depots where railroads used to be; one is a bar, another a school, a third a dance hall, and the fourth a home, with the ticket window opening between the kitchen and living room.
    The local phenomena also include aborigines of sorts, a metropolitan resort hotel, complete with swimming pool, landing strip, and golf links, some of the weirdest scenery in the world, and a legendary character called Death Valley Scotty.
    Scotty's incredible biography figures later in this volume, together with some account of his Alice-in-Wonderland abode and the wonderful yarns he will tell you there. His tales have all the flavor of the bizarre land where this modern Munchausen lives.
    One night as we sat in the patio of Scotty's palace, a feminine tourist turned wide eyes toward our host.
    "Oh, Mr. Scott," she twittered, "you have saved so many lives here on the desert, won't you please tell us one real story of your heroism?"
    Scotty scratched his head. "Well, lemme think—"
    "How about the old couple that were lost up Sure Death Canyon?" I suggested.
    "Them? That wasn't nuthin'." Scotty grunted and shifted in his chair. "Well, I wuz out prospectin' when I come across an old man an' woman. They'd driv up in their auto an' the damn thing had broke down. They hadn't et or had a drop o' water fer two days. Must've been all of a hundred and fifty miles from anywhere.
    "Well, I only had my burros, but I give 'em what water and grub I had an' started back to git help. Then I got to thinkin'. Time I got back them two would be dead. An' they'd sure to have suffered to beat hell. Took me quite a spell to figger out what to do."
    Scotty stopped.
    "Oh, Mr. Scotty," the woman begged, "what happened?"
    "Went back an' shot 'em!" Scotty wiped his eyes. "'Twas th' only Christian thing to do."

Your Editor would like to say:

And you Desert Rats can read it at any library, borrow it from some ranger, school teacher or bartender, or buy it. Costs same as a pint of whisky and got more fun in it. Lasts longer too. I am not preaching — better yet if you can have both at once. You tourist folks should buy this book at your booksellers or send for it, $2.75,   Duell Sloan & Pearce Inc., 270 Madison Ave., New York 16, N. Y.

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    The newspaper with a definite desert odor, and don't MESQUITE me.

Matt Weinstock & Mark Twain On Weather

    Matt tells of the time he heard a bus driver whisper confidentially to a passenger: "No question about it, the Weather Bureau is in cahoots with the Chamber of Commerce. How else could there be much more rain in Glendale than Los Angeles?"

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    It was Mark Twain, on a balmy day of Spring, who was hailed by every passing acquaintance with some observation on the state of the weather. Upon arriving at his destination and being greeted with, "Nice day, Mr. Twain," he replied dryly, "Yes, I've heard it very highly spoken of."

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    Matt's book, "My L. A." has a chapter on earthquakes (you ought to read it). Out of the middle of the chapter I've taken this shaky story. In Tacoma, Washington, when it was rocked in 1939, guests in a hotel ran about in wide-eyed terror-stricken panic. One fellow remained calm. He made for a doorway, took a stance, and shouted above the din: "I'm from Los Angeles. We always stand in doorways."
    A nervous bystander screeched, "I'm from Chicago. What the hell do I do?"

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Mark Twain Would Like This

    The most famous of American "rain makers" was C. M. Hatfield, who, between 1903 and 1928, fulfilled virtually all of some 500 contracts to produce rain for parched farms and cities in southern California and received more that $500,000 for his services. Hatfield claimed that he simply released the fumes of secret chemicals contained in tanks he set up in the area under contract; and the public believed him because at least a little rain would almost invariably fall there within the time guaranteed. Finally, a noted scientist disclosed that Hatfield's success was due, not to fumes, but to his ability to determine, from weather charts, where and when it was quite likely to rain during the dry season from May to November. By accepting or rejecting a contract on the basis of these facts and by demanding 30 or 60 days in which to carry out his agreement, Mr. Hatfield rarely failed.

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    It don't take backbone to belly up to a bar.

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Dr. Death Valley Scotty M.D.

    Death Valley Scotty was bitten by a sidewinder (rattlesnake) last year. It happened on his ranch where he lives near Ubehebe Crater.
    Scotty, who like the Indians, if they had work to do in Death Valley and its country in the summer, would work between dawn and sun-up, was out early repairing a leak in his water line when he reached for a wrench lying in the grass, the sidewinder nailed him on the thumb.
    Scotty, who is 76 years old, said that he had been bitten four or five times before, and that he always goes prepared for them. He carries a bottle of serum with a razor blade attached in his pocket at all times. So, when he was bitten he slashed the wound, soaked it in the serum and then laid down in the back of his station wagon for a few hours.
    Failure to keep calm after incurring a snake bite may lead to trouble, according to the man who has roamed the desert for almost half a century.
    "Lots of damn fool ringtails start crying and hollering and jump around, instead of just opening the wound and soaking it with something like that super peroxide I carry," Scotty observed.   —"George Pipkin"

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"A wink's as good as a nod to a blind mule."

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Corral Man

    The mules at the Furnace Creek Ranch precipitate visitor comments among which is: "Are these asses descendents of the donkeys left in Death Valley by the early prospectors?" After a guffaw of the bystanders, the corral man tolerantly explains that "After all mules are not so fortunate as to have ancestors."   —"L. F. Keller."

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Kickin' never gets you nowhere, 'less'n you're a mule.

Death Valley Scotty See

Southern California's most amazing showplace . . . Conducted tours of the Castle at a nominal charge. For overnight accommodations address Manager, Scotty's Castle, Goldfield, Nevada.

One $2.00         Single Copy 25¢
Grubstaker: The late Scotty Allen

Stories of Pioneers and Old Trails

Pony Express

Herb S. Hamlin, Editor
Address All Mail to The Pony Express Museum
500 Virginia Ave., San Mateo, California

Published Monthly at Placerville, California
Formerly Hangtown

Hat Keep Your Hat On
Or Turn Showman

    Death Valley Scotty leaned back in the big leather chair, puffed at his cigar, and told this one:
    "One day I'm out in the courtyard diggin' a hole. An old sister came up to me an' says:
    'You'll cook your brains, working like that out in this hot sun.' I says "Hell, if I had any brains I wouldn't be out here in this hot sun in the first place."   —"Park Ranger Sam Houston"

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Bad Water
Death Valley Bad Water
Not So Bad Says L. Floyd Keller

    Badwater is good water since analysis indicates the presence of common salt, Glauber's salt, and Epsom salt dissolved in water — no arsenic. It is recommended that each visitor drink about ½ pint.

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PAISANO — meaning fellow citizen — is the Mexican name for our desert Road Runner. New Mexico has made him its state bird.

PickWestern Books

Ray Hetherington

    The girl from Arizona talking to Ray Hetherington, made the claim that Arizona had more lost mines than California. Ray, who is publishing his second book on lost mines, answered, "But ours in California are lost better than yours." . . . Which reminds me . . . Ray's Ghost Town Book Shop at Knotts Berry Farm, Buena Park, California, is the only place that has copies of "Packet Two of Pouch One" of this newspaper . . . if you are looking for lost treasure.

Bill Magee's Western Barbecue Cook Book

    This is the cookbook you've been waiting for! Ainsworth and Magee make an incomparable team as they depict the gustatory glories of the barbecue.
    Preceding each selection of recipes you will find a wealth of material on the history of the barbecue and the succulent treats that stem from the first Spanish settlements. Anecdote follows anecdote as only Ed Ainsworth, Los Angeles Times Editor, can tell them.
    Bill Magee is known throughout the Southwest as the best barbecue cook in the region. From a whole steer to a chili sauce, Bill pours forth a wealth of recipes gleaned from fifty-five years of cooking at the pit.
    Take the guesswork out of barbecuing with the Western Barbecue Cookbook. Your guests will appreciate it — and so will you! Sixty illustrations by Clyde Forsythe.

Panamint Pete Panamint Pete


    Keepin' a safe distance behind his prey, a hunter yesterday sloshed through the snow on Telegraph Peak on the trail of the biggest, most battle-scarred, most vicious looking mountain lion he had ever seen.
    He had just come to a point where the tracks disappeared into the opening of a cave when he heard an earth-shaking din and, seconds later, watched from the top of a nearby tree as Panamint Pete emerged from the cave dragging the huge beast by the tail.
    Pete gave the struggleing lion a resounding kick where he thought it would have the most effect, and was about to return to the cave when he noticed the hunter in the top of the tree.
    "No blasted lion is going to share my fire on a cold day unless he brings in some wood," snapped Pete by way of explanation, and he disappeared into the entrance.
    One of the 101 Adventures of Panamint Pete, by Leonard F. Murnane. Published by Hubbard Printing, Randsburg, California. $1.50.

Since '49, the Land of Historic Adventure


Furnace Creek Inn
Furnace Creek Ranch

Located in the center of the valley . . . Explore the route of the Jayhawkers, the Arcane-Manly party who named the valley and who, during the winter of 1849 became lost seeking a short-cut to the California gold fields. This history will be commemorated in a colorful Pagaent on Dec. 3, highlighted by an exhibition of the famous 20 Mule Team, the same type that for many years hauled Borax out of Death Valley for the renowned

20 Mule Team Borax Products

20 Mule Team


Page 5         Tall but Short Stories from DEATH VALLEY

Tall But Short Stories

Pull In Your Hand Podner

    Don Curry, former Park Naturalist, says he learned to know the current summer temperature by feel. When the temperature was sufficient too cause a pain at the base of his fingernail he found by checking with a thermometer that it was 116°F. When the pain was extended to the first joint of the index finger he knew the temperature was 121. If the pain reached the third joint of the finger he knew it was time to rush back to cooler elevation in the Panamints. After listening to Curry relate this method of reading temperatures, a man and woman visitor started toward Badwater on August 23 to make the test by this unique observation. The man rolled down the car window and extended his right arm into the atmosphere and uttered a violent cry.
    His wife observed that his arm had been burned off sheer just above the elbow.

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    During prohibition, Johnny Shoshone of Death Valley attempted to make some "home brew" from mesquite beans. His first sample made him violently ill so he solicited his white brother to send a sample of the brew to the State chemist for analysis. The report came back from the State Chemist which was as follows: "Your horse died of diabetes."
Told at Beatty, Nevada.

The only thing a desert rat is scared of today is that a Sunday picnic has messed up the next water hole.

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Seldom Seen Slim

A Tale By George Pipkin
Keeper of the Wildrose Station

    Slim is a sly old codger who lives by his wits, and sometimes that is better than working for a living. One time he was in Randsburg, when a truck loaded with manure stopped at the service station. Slim's curiosity was aroused. Engaging the driver in conversation, he asked, "What are you going to do with the manure?" The driver answered, "Haul it to San Bernadino and sell it." Slim said, "You mean to tell me you can sell that stuff?" "Sure," replied the driver, "it brings a good price." Right away a memory clicked in Slim's mind, he knew where there was an old corral full of manure. So he high-tailed it out and slapped a placer claim on the corral.   —"From the Trona Argonaut"

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    Many fine metallurgists have been developed here in Death Valley because of the mining interests. There are well qualified gentlemen who could take a weekend trip to Hollywood, look at a Platinum Blond and with one glance determine whether she were virgin metal or just common ore.   Says a Red Mountain waitress

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    "That will settle your hash," said the cock-eyed Desert Rat to the Dry Lake Dude when the latter downed a spoonful of baking soda.

Ric Carter

All text was hand-entered (no OCR scans) by Ric Carter (all of Harry's misspellings retained). Dick Oakes did the layout, markup and graphics reproduction, but not the contents, which remain the property of Bill Powers and his heirs.