The Loop Newspaper - Tehachapi's Online Community News & Entertainment Guide

By Susan Wiggins
Mayor Pro Tempore 

Nothing new under the sun

A Page of History


“The more things change, the more they remain the same…”

There are all sorts of sayings that confirm that though things seem to change and fads come and go, basics remain the same.

In searching my mother Marion Deaver’s news files I found an article she wrote in November, 1969, lamenting the damage from vandals to historical sites in the desert area of Eastern Kern County.

A tagger was caught and arrested recently in the Tehachapi area for leaving his little marks for all to see on other people’s property – in 2017. Historical sites in the county still must be closely guarded and monitored to make sure that they do not have “new” art added to the history left to us by our immigrant and Native American ancestors. Some have even been completely destroyed.

“Hundreds of years ago, Indians (Native Americans) crisscrossed the desert, leaving trails and recording their lives in pictographs, petroglyphs, grinding rocks, work sites, and tools,” my mom began.

She added that later came Spanish explorers and others who crossed the area in search of routes over the mountains to the west and the Pacific Ocean, all leaving new forms of sites, including graves of those who died along the way.

Twenty Mule Teams hauled Borax ore from Death Valley to Mojave cutting in a road that still can be seen along that route.

Alas, as we crisscross the desert in dune buggies, motorcycles, RV’s 4WD vehicles we too have begun to leave “historical” sites and roads and trails where vegetation has been destroyed that may never grow back.

Along with these spots is our “modern” trash that no one wants to find. Historical societies and other groups still wander the desert in search of things that no one has ever discovered. When they find one, they may post a photo on their club Facebook site…but never reveal where it is located, so that it may remain protected by the desert itself.

This has become necessary since more and more “motorized vehicles” have made their way into the desert. Pictographs and been spray painted, petroglyphs have been chalked over so someone can get a better photo, rock faces with such art have broken and chipped, or been covered with someone’s name in paint.

That paragraph was written by my mother in 1969. Sound familiar? The Bureau of Land Management began then in 1969 to protect the desert and its treasures. Trails along the desert floor which were made by early settlers and desert wildlife have in some places been obliterated by ORV’s.

My mother also noted that metal signs put up for various reasons were always shot full of holes. Desert Tortoises were shot for no reason. She included suburban sprawl as another concern for protecting wildlife and historical sites.

She explained that there was a ground movement in East Kern to make Red Rock Canyon a state park.

That movement came to fruition and the amazing red cliffs and wildlife of that area are now protected and patrolled, although like many other state and national parks, funds are limited and maintenance is suffering.

The desert tortoise has been protected by the Desert Tortoise Preserve located near California City, where there is a large concentration of the reptiles.

Areas of wilderness have been established by the federal government across the nation since then. The fight continues, especially in the desert between the rights of environmentalists and off road riders.

Complaints come in on a regular basis about ORV’s riding on the Pacific Crest Trail, that runs east of Tehachapi and from ranchers whose cattle, fences, and roads are damaged or even destroyed by ORV riders.

Historical sites have been protected by entities such as the Navy near Ridgecrest. One of the largest canyons of Native American drawings ever discovered is on Naval property and tours must be scheduled and have escorts.

Some have been fenced off, and some are just so remote that they are protected just by their location.

Some things may never change, but you can make a little change. If you see trash out in your wanderings, pick it up. Seems like a small gesture, but what if we all did it…


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