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By Susan Wiggins

Rosamond history

A Page of History


I found a file marked Rosamond history that was marked in my mother Marion Deaver’s handwriting and it was a sort of mishmash of articles and handwritten notes.

One article was written by Glenn Settle, Eastern Kern historian of sorts, and another was written out on typed sheets and I cannot make out the name on the return address. It looks like M. Kilchry, but I cannot be sure, and as always my mom did not include any dates on anything.

Settle’s article seems to be from the early 1960’s, and the other one may be from the 1950’s, gauging from the references made in it.

I will have to refer to Settle’s facts, only because I knew him for many years and knew his facts to be correct. I will mention some of the ideas from the other author for “color.”

According to Settle, Rosamond got its name from a Southern Pacific Railroad official who named the town after his daughter. The rails came to Rosamond in 1876, as it did in Tehachapi and Mojave.

The other author said Rosamond was named for the nearby Rose Hill. (I have never heard of Rose Hill, but that does not mean much.)

“The first inhabitants in the Rosamond area were the Indians, with the Willow Springs natives the first to see the white man when they came through the desert in 1776.” (Keep in mind that these articles were written before the term Native American was used.)

Settle explained that the town began to grow after the arrival of the railroad. The town soon became a shipping point for large herds of cattle that were on area ranches in the desert. Area mines soon began to be successful in their efforts to locate gold and silver and were also shipped from the railhead in Rosamond.

Many of us are familiar with the story of Ezra Hamilton who was taking clay out of the ground behind Tropico Hill when he discovered gold in the late 1890’s. The gold boom hit the area as gold ore was mined and milled at Tropico.

Hamilton constructed a store and hotel to serve the many people rushing to the area to get in on the gold rush, and soon other construction followed.

Agriculture became a local industry after electricity came to the area in 11917, according to Rawley Duntley, a pioneer of the area who arrived in 1889. Farming and poultry raising then began in earnest, he was quoted as saying.

Settle claimed that in the “roaring ‘20’s Rosamond was known as one of the biggest producers of bootleg whiskey. If you are hiking in the desert between Mojave and areas of Rosamond in the desert you might come upon some six inch holes, capped by old metal lids. These were some of the wells used by the bootleggers for water to make their wares. Very discreet with nothing around them to suggest they even exist.

When the Burton Brothers acquired the mining properties on Tropico Hill their mill was used for gold ore throughout the desert area for other mines including the Golden Queen, Cactus Queen and other mines in the area.

The mining operations provided work for many who would have otherwise been affected by the Great Depression.

Settle explained that when the mines were forced to close in World War II and the price of gold dropped, Edwards Air Force Base (as it would come to be called) “took up the slack” and provided jobs for many who moved into the area.

Rodgers Dry Lake provides then and now a perfect place for testing of new aircraft, bringing even more people into East Kern.

Glenn Settle and his wife Doreen, who was a Burton before her marriage to Settle, turned the Tropico Gold Mine property into another Gold Rush by creating the Gold Camp below the mine area. They brought in old buildings from all over the Antelope Valley-East Kern area to preserve them and let people tour them and the mine area – for a small price.

The World Champion Gold Panning Contest was held there each year, as was the World Championship Chili Cookoff for several years.

And the Rosamond area, once referred to as the Gateway to Edwards AFB, continues to grow today.


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