Twentynine Palms Historical Society
29 Palms, California


"What draws us into the desert is the search for something intimate in the remote." ~Edward Abbey

Old Schoolhouse Museum photo

Our Museum is now open
Wednesday - Sunday 1:00-4:00 PM

Photo of the Steve Brown

  The 2021-2022 Second Friday Lecture Series continues...
    Friday, December 9th at 7:00pm

   "Old Spanish Trail from Mountain Springs, Nevada to Salt Creek"
    by Steve Brown

Mexican pack mule trains, Manifest Destiny, mountain men, horse thieves, and the slave trade - during its brief history, the Old Spanish Trail, which was neither old nor Spanish, had a significant impact on the changing landscape of the West. History and Change on the Old Spanish Trail: Mountain Springs to Salt Creek will discuss the Old Spanish Trail, with special attention focused on the section of the trail from Mountain Springs, Nevada, over Emigrant Pass into Tecopa, China Ranch, and south through the Mojave to Salt Creek, the last stop for water before the treacherous Jornada del Muerto.

This multimedia presentation will present information on the history of the trail, as well as the changing landscape of historical trails, with video presentations from historians and naturalists featured in the PBS/FNX television documentary of the same name.

The presentation will be conducted by journalist, historian and media producer, Steve Brown, who served as writer and producer of the 2021 documentary, produced for the Amargosa Conservancy and the Oregon-California Trails Association with funding from California Humanities.

The documentary was recently screened at the Yucca Valley Film Festival and continues to be broadcast nationally on the FNX (First Nations Experience) network.

Photo credit: Kevin Marcus.

Sponsored by the Desert Institute at Joshua Tree National Park and the Twentynine Palms Historical Society, this lecture will be held at the Old Schoolhouse Museum, 6760 National Park Drive in 29 Palms on Friday, December 9th, at 7 pm. The fee for the presentation is $5.00 paid at the door.

For further information call:
The Desert Institute
or email

Download a flyer with this season's schedule.

The 2022 Twentynine Palms
Weed Show logo SM
was held on Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 5 & 6.

This years theme was A Wonderful Weekend In "29".

The 2022 Weed Show rules and categories can be seen by clicking the image below.

Weed Show Graphic
A Wonderful Weekend In "29"

A list of all 2022 winners can be found here.

Photos of all 2022 entries will soon be available on our Facebook page at


The Twentynine Palms Historical Society is pleased to announce the 2022 "Old Timer of the Year" honoree...

David Smith

Photo of David Smith

David Smith is the child of William Smith, who homesteaded in 29 Palms in 1926. William married Thelma Mead in 1930, and a year later gave birth to Raymond, the first registered native birth in Twentynine Palms. Five more children arrived later, including Dave. This pioneer family worked together as a unit to keep the "ranch" running smoothly. Ranch work included water delivery, dairy, movie projection, ice cream parlor, snack bar, ice house, trailer park, and drive-in theater.

Smith's Ranch became a community gathering place. It was an oasis in the desert for early pioneers to socialize and be entertained. One of the buildings on the ranch served as a temporary school. A large building on the property served the community as a gym, square dance hall, skating rink, and dramatic productions.

Dave and Pat Smith, along with their family, have invested time and money to keep the ranch running and preserved its existence. The large hall was used in the mid-1990s for numerous community events, to include the installation of officers of the Chamber of Commerce and the Global Convention of Murals sponsored by Action Council 29. It is used today for community events, social gatherings, and private events. This building, a part of our heritage and history, exists because of Dave's perseverance and hard work. The facility has brought the community together and contributed to its betterment.

The Smith family has served this community for almost 100 years and five generations. It is with great pleasure that the 29 Palms Historical Society names Dave Smith as our 2022 Old Timer of the year Honoree.

For his contributions to recording area history and his continued support of the community, we are proud to honor David Smith as our 2022 Old Timer of the Year.

David will be a guest of honor at the Old Timers Gathering scheduled for 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15 at the museum, 6760 National Park Drive. Admission to the gathering is free, though donations are always accepted.

The "Old Timer of the Year" program was created to honor early or long-time residents who contributed significantly to the development or betterment of the Twentynine Palms' community. The program is intended to honor "everyday heroes" whose contributions and efforts over the years have largely gone unsung.

Everyone is welcome to come help us honor him during the 2022 Old Timers gathering at the Old Schoolhouse Museum on Saturday, October 15, 2022, 1:00 - 4:00 p.m.

The Old Schoolhouse Museum is located at 6760 National Park Drive in Twentynine Palms.

Now available in our gift shop

One With The Creosote cover
One With The Creosote – Memories of a Desert Child
By Chris (Spangenberg) Tiffany

With a blending of poetic imagery and journalistic prose, writer Chris Tiffany reflects on her childhood growing up on the Mojave Desert during the '50s and '60s, to reveal the origins of an interwoven connection to the natural world around her and its influence on her life's paths and perspectives.

Tiffany, a Santa Ynez Valley resident who grew up in Twentynine Palms, is daughter of the late Joe and Margot Spangenberg, who moved their family from San Pedro, California, to Twentynine Palms in 1953. The Oasis of Mara, at the northern entrance to Joshua Tree National Park, was her childhood playground.

Photo of Chris Tiffany Since age 10, Tiffany has kept personal diaries and journals, and credits her writing talent to her mother, who worked as a reporter for The Desert Trail for many years.

A graduate of the University of California, Irvine, Tiffany is a former director of the Santa Ynez Valley Family School, whose curriculum encourages exploration of the surrounding Los Padres National Forest as an extension of the classroom.

A 40-year resident of the Santa Ynez Valley, she is a past editor of the Women's Environmental Watch newsletter, and served as the initial publicist and program coordinator for Arts Outreach for many years.

She continues to enjoy frequent retreats to her cabin on the boundary of Joshua Tree National Park.

One With The Creosote cover
Willie Boy & The Last Western Manhunt
By Clifford E Trafzer

The saga of Willie Boy has survived over one hundred years and the captivating story remains alive today. American Indians throughout Southern California, the American Southwest, and Great Basin remember the story well. Willie Boy's pursuit of redemption, his attempt to become culturally whole again, reflects a tragic journey that still resonates today, over a hundred years on from the deaths of William Mike and Carlota. In his journey to survive, Willie Boy challenged numerous lawmen eager to capture or kill him, prompting the posse, press, and citizens to demonize Willie Boy.

Clifford E. Trafzer is a Distinguished Professor of History and Costo Chair of Amerian Indian Affairs at the University of California, Riverside. He has published A Chemehuevi Song, Fighting Invisible Enemies, Strong Hearts & Healing Hands, and Shadows of Sherman Institute.

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