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Mojave River Valley Region Branding Gets Boost from Formation of Alliance

Published April 24th, 2019

By Katrina Siverts, Publisher

Local folks have noticed the blossoming effort by some business leaders to brand this desert region with the name: Mojave River Valley. If you’ve been reading our newspaper lately, you know that we’ve been working on this issue, and agree with the concept.

Several of our readers have questions the meaning of the movement, and why that name is being considered.

To answer some of these queries, we’ll highlight the history and facts about the areas that go by several different names.

Marcy Taylor who runs both the Victor Valley and Apple Valley Legacy Museums says she has been fielding questions from visitors and her volunteers on the subject. She is also involved with the Mohave Historical Society, Seniors With Inquiring Minds (S.W.I.M.), and other organizations, and is very knowledgeable of local history.

According to Taylor, the area around Barstow has been known as the Mojave River Valley, and there is in fact a museum by that name located there. Since the publishing of recent stories, I have received comments and opinions on both sides of the issue. We encourage readers to send in their comments, and write letters to the editor on the subject.

Two booklets, issued by Continental Telephone Company in 1970, present the writer’s versions of both histories. Each contains a hand-drawn map of the area highlighted in the booklet. They are Romantic Heritage of Mojave River Valley, A Saga of Transportation and Desert Frontiers; and Victor Valley, A Saga of Desert Exploration…and Expansion. Says the area’s written history begins in 1176 when Francisco Hermenegildo Garces, a missionary-priest, came overland from the Colorado River, following a trail parallel to the Mojave River on his way to the San Gabriel Mission. Father Garces is important because he led travelers that brought successive waves of cavillation to this desert area, which up to then had been occupied by the semi-nomadic Chemehuevi Indian tribes. Fifty years later, a devout Anglo-Saxon mountain man/trapper/explorer named Jedidiah Strong Smith came west over the same trail along the Mojave was followed by traders from New Mexico province.

The overall mission of the Mojave River Valley Alliance is to share the beauty of the region far and wide. This effort comprises three elements: Promoting the new regional brand locally; Communicating this brand wherever possible to others outside the region; and Creating common, regional activities that help cement our common identity.

Here is some food for thought, for those wanting to explore the MRV region history and find out more information about the entire Mojave Desert area:

  • The Mojave River – The river’s source is in the San Bernardino Mountains, one of the Transverse Ranges, above Hesperia-San Bernardino. The West Fork of the Mojave flows into Silverwood Lake, formed by Cedar Springs Dam, which overflows in the Mojave River Forks Reserve area. On occasion, the lake releases water in the river. Downstream, Deep Creek meets the West Fork, forming the Mojave River immediately upstream of the Mojave Forks Dam, which provides flood control. Downstream of the dam, the Mojave River flows north and east, underground in most places, through Hesperia, Victorville, and Barstow.

Near its terminus, the Mojave River flows out onto a large inland delta called the Mojave River Wash at the western edge of Mojave National Preserve. During heavy flows, the river reaches Soda Lake near Baker at the north end of the Wash, and has reached Silver Lake, even further north, in historic times, For example, during the unusually wet winter of 2004-2005, the Mojave River flowed on the surface all the way to Silver Lake and filled both Soda and Silver Lakes to a depth of several feet.

The water in the river is mostly underground. The channel at the surface remains dry most of the time, but extreme flooding is possible. For example, during a heavy El Nino in the Mojave Desert, rains caused the Mojave River to overflow onto overpassing bridges on 22 February 1993, the most damage being Bear Valley Road, where Victorville and Apple Valley are separated. The water comes to the surface only in areas with impermeable rock, such as the upper and lower narrows near Victorville and in the Afton Canyon area northeast of Barstow.

  • The Mojave River Valley Museum located in Barstow is a good place to fin information about the area, as it is dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the scientific historical and cultural heritage of the Mojave River Valley. It was founded in 1964 and established as a nonprofit corporation in 1973. Donations of money, time and labor have resulted in the present Museum facility. The Museum continues to operate through the efforts of its members and by donations from the public.

The MRV Museum is located at: 270 E Virgina Way, Barstow, CA 92311. For more information, call 760-256-5452, or email: mrvmuseum@gmail.com