General Patton and the Kings Throne
“His hill called by some of his men ‘The Kings Throne’, deserves mention. It was a lone elevation between the Orocopia and the Chuckwalla Mountains and separated from both. The General [Patton] used to sit or stand up there, scrutinizing critically the line of march of tanks and motorized units below him. He would watch tanks line up in the manner of two football teams, with their support slightly different on either side, behind them like backfields, charge together while the backfield of one swerved and made an end-run. Detecting a mistake or a way to improve, he would shout instructions into his radio.”
So, with this bit of information, I moved the cursor down an enlarged section of Google Earth between the Orocopia and Chuckwalla mountain ranges mentioned in the report. As I did this, I noted a number of small isolated rock pediments rising above their surroundings. About ten miles south of Interstate 10, I spotted one that had a road circling from top to bottom. I also noted the faint suggestion of a road leading directly to it from the north. I figured this had to be the Kings Throne.
A few weeks later a friend and I drove to the base of the hill and walked to the top along a narrow road. It was plain to us that from this point, Patton and those commanders who followed him were able to observe the action of tanks and other armored vehicles across the wide desert plain below. For those interested in visiting the Throne, the following short history might prove helpful.
At the start of World War II, The War Department decided that a large open area with varied terrain would be needed, “for the purpose of training mechanized units to live and fight in the desert, to test and develop suitable equipment, and to develop tactical doctrines, and training methods.”
Maj. Gen. George S. Patton, Jr. was given the job of finding an area that would meet the army’s training needs. After extensive study and personal inspection of large open areas throughout the country, he recommended an area that included a large portion of both the Mohave and Colorado deserts of California with extensions into Arizona and the Las Vegas Valley. His recommendation was approved and in April, 1942, he was given full command of the Desert Training Center. His headquarters (Camp Young) was located at Chiriaco Summit, on the north side of Interstate Highway 10 where the Patton Museum now stands.
Patton’s 1st Armored Corps conducted exercises south of the highway generally in the area between the two mountain ranges mentioned above. His stay was short-lived. By the fall of ‘42 he and his unit were on their way to North Africa to take part in operation code named “Torch”.
In the four months from April to the first part of August, General Patton spotted significant problems facing desert warfare and issued directives for improving tactical deployment of armored divisions emphasizing rapid advancement against an enemy across desert terrain.
Operations at the Center lasted from April,’42 to April, ’44. During that two year period, tens of thousands of officers and enlisted men passed through on their way to action in both Europe and the Pacific. They lived in camps spread across the desert with names like Ibis, Iron Mountain, Granite and Hyder. There were eleven isolated camps in all. The troops rotated in and out along with the Commanders and all but one advanced to command troops in the European Theater.
The Kings Throne is located on private land in Section 23, T. 7S, R. 14E, SBBM The hill rises 40 feet above its base and provides 360 degree view of the surrounding plain. To get there, take Interstate 10 to Red Cloud Mine Road then south on Gas Line Road about 6.5 miles(See AAA map). At that point look to your right and you will see it – pretty hard to miss. You can drive along a wash to the base and walk up the little road that spirals to the top. At the top, you’ll find a wooden pole. We assumed that the pole held a radio antenna for communicating with field units. Good place to have lunch.
[Error Notice: A few months back I posted a story about Pegleg Smith. In it I included a statement that I received from the State Mineralogical Museum that: “as far as I [my contact] knows there is no black gold”. Later, after posting, I got another email from my contact at the Museum stating that after further research: “a copper oxide coating on gold would not be unusual” and therefore the nugget would appear dark or black]