2007 SCA SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA DATA SHARING MEETINGS with Four Interpretative Posters
Fig Tree John was a well-known Cahuilla capitan and probably lived well over 100 years in the vicinity of the Truckhaven, [Imperial County] CA, earlier at Fish Springs and later at Agua Dulce. Fig Tree John [aka Juanito Razón] was an ‘unforgettable character’ being described in nearly every biography, autobiography, or travel guide from the mid-1880s up to his death in 1927. Edwin Corle’s 1935 novel, Fig Tree John, was a sensation [although the Martinez Cahuilla became an Apache in this work!] and was reprinted in paperback four times with over 100,000 copies. Reputedly, a film was even envisioned about this man. His son, Johnny Mack, stated that his father was 135 years old when he died. As such, he lived from the Mission era, through the nineteenth century and into the twentieth century on the banks of the Salton Sea and witnessed every major change to occur in this region. His biography provides a "Vehicle to Study Changing Land Use in the Salton Sea Region."
Native women, squatters, settlers, miners, stagecoach drivers, and prisoners are the key players in this slice of Salton Sea history based on ‘Women Survivors.’ Olive Oatman was kidnapped from a wagon train by Mohave in 1857; Charlie Parkhurst was a woman stage coach driver; the Civil War forced many African-American women to California, some of which became wealthy; women miners were not uncommon and numerous women prisoners were incarcerated at Yuma including several locals. Nina Paul Shumway wrote an autobiography as an early Imperial Valley settler and was among the first date farmers in the region; Delfino Cuero and Ruby Modesto describe life for a modern Diegueno woman and a Desert Cahuilla Medicine woman.
Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area may be the birthplace of offroading. In researching this concept, a model was prepared that discusses the interesting circular development of transportation in the Salton Sea Region:
-from ‘trails’ for single travelers on foot and horseback,
-to ‘roads’ for small parties traveling on mail and stage routes,
-to plank and paved ‘roads’ for limited numbers in automobiles,
-to ‘railroads’ for mass transportation… just to return
-to ‘trails’ for recreational travel for single individuals on off road vehicles.
The explorers and surveyors who pioneered these routes range from priests and Spanish soldiers to Mexican officials, the Mormon Battalion, American military, and scientists.
From 1625 to 1863, a series of eleven maps document the Salton Sea Region starting with California as an ‘Island’ and progressing to the official California State map. Copperplate engravings, pen and ink drawings, colored pencil drawings, lithographs, and colored lithographs were the medium. All are spectacular for their time; the 1863 David Rumsey Collection is deemed a cartographical landmark and is part of the largest collection of Americana. Copies of these maps were shown and briefly discussed.