California Desert trips,interesting places to visit: ghost towns, old mines, lost treasure, personalities and bits of the old west


The desert is sort of my second home. The places described below are special and worth visiting provided you know the story. That's what this blog is all about. Now I have tried as best I can to be factual but sometimes you hate to let facts get in the way of a good yarn.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Robber's Roost

Driving north on Highway 14, you may have noticed two large granite blobs stuck on the east facing slope of Scodie Mountain located a mile or so south of Highway 178 (Walker Pass Road). They are named “Robber’s Roost” on official maps and are associated with the most famous bandit in the history of California, Tiburcio Vasquez. It is believed that he and his men camped behind these outcrops in order to spot approaching stagecoaches on the road between Los Angeles and Owens Valley,

The only references to these “rocks” are found in Bandits, Borax and Bears A Trip To Searles Lake In 1874. The author, Edmond Leuba, and M.deB his companion traveling the old wagon road by buckboard, are on their way to Searles Lake to inspect the new borax discoveries. When:

“About noon we were in front of the two rocks a mile from Coyote Hole. In these two pyramids of granite we perceived some hollows resembling caves. ‘See there the retreats which have served Tiburico Vasquez,’ said M. de B, to me.”

Upon arrival at Coyote Hole Station, Leuba found to his amazement that, on the previous day, Vasquez and his associates had visited the station and relieved those unfortunate enough to be there at that time of their valuables. One man was shot in the leg and survived. According to Freeman Raymond, proprietor of the station, those on the scheduled stagecoach that arrived three hours later also fell victim. .

Leuba asked Raymond, ‘‘Where do you supposed he [Vasquez] kept himself with his band?” Raymond replied, “…he surely spent several days in the rocks near which you just passed, because I went there this morning and found a quantity of empty sardine cans, crackers and about a quarter of a sack of flour.” This is the evidence we have that these famous banditos were holed up among these crags the night before they raided the station.

Vasquez, with a sizable price on his head, was being pursued by sheriff’s posses throughout the state. His men were constantly on the lookout; aided by some native Californians who felt deprived of their land by the gringos . It stands to reason that, on this one occasion, they took advantage of the excellent view of the road provided from these rocks to spot lawmen coming north from Los Angeles.

Vasquez was captured on May 13, 1874, at the La Brea Rancho and initially jailed in Los Angeles. He was tried in San Jose and found guilty of committing two murders and sentenced to be hanged. The sentence was carried out at noon on March 18, 1875, to a lively crowd that gathered to place bets and see if he would “die game.”, which he did!.

Robber’s Roost is located on BLM land at GPS 35* 34.540’ north latitude; 117* 56.910’ west longitude. This is a nesting place for birds of prey and closed to motorized vehicles from February 1 through July 1. A nice place to have your lunch and look around.