Thursday, August 20, 2015

The "New" Historic Warren Homestead of Morongo Valley

As our group arrived for our Monday morning hike through Covington Park and the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve we stood for a moment, stunned.  A new road had been blazed through the dense brush of what we had thought was a protected wildlife area, an internationally recognized birding site, for heaven's sake, toward a stand of cottonwood trees on the far side of the park!

Hikers winding down the trail into Covington Park, Morongo Valley.
I am very protective of our wild areas and was feeling quite jittery.  I can only imagine how the bird watchers were feeling. However, before I lost my composure I wanted to know what was going on.  I knew the area had a rich history and rightly so, as this is one of the few areas of permanent water in the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts.

History is a peculiar beast at times.  Getting a definitive fact seems to be only authoritative until I find someone who disagrees.  This is a fairly accurate, if brief, time line of history of Covington Park and the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve.

The Morongo Clan of the Serrano Indians were the first settlers I know of, however, they succumbed to small pox when the  white settlers arrived. The survivors moved to Banning in the 1860's.

About 10 years after the arrival of the white settlers the Warren Family arrived and set up a cattle ranch and also provided supplies for travelers passing through.  They built a fairly big home for the time and lived at the oasis for around 35 years before selling to the Covington family in 1912.  In 1968 the Covingtons sold 80 acres to the Nature Conservancy, and soon after the County of San Bernardino purchased a further 160 acres which became a wild life preserve. It is now managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

Barbed wire from the ranching days.

So why had a trail been ploughed though this protected and very beautiful wilderness area? The answer was much more benign than I'd feared.

Descendants of the Warren family had needed the access to excavate the family homestead.  They wanted to create a lasting monument to their pioneering forebears and set the archaeological remains up as permanent Historical Site, further protecting the area for the enjoyment of future generations.

Park visitors taking in a history lesson.

The area where the cabin stood in the foreground.

Big Morongo Canyon Preserve and adjacent Covington Park are only a 25 minute drive from Palm Springs in the town of Morongo Valley, on Highway 62, the main drag to Joshua Tree National Park. Highway 62. Green, scenic, cool with many hiking trails and now an Historic Site, it is well worth stopping by for a relaxing hour or two.


Cheryl Ann said...

Interesting! Hubby and I will have to get up there and take a look, when it cools down!
Cheryl Ann

Nancy Laura Joseph, PCC said...

How very thorough, visual and fascinating Barb. I learn a lot from you, what a terrific source this blog is, please keep at it!