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November 26, 2007

The Founding Of Desert Hot Springs

I recently picked up a copy of The Waters of Comfort by John J. Hunt. It's the history of the founding and development of Desert Hot Springs. When I finish it, I may post a list of historical highlights here, since the list I got from the DHS Historical Society seemed to imply that nothing happened between 1964 and 1987. But until then, I want to share with you a passage from the book, which may give you an idea why we're here where we are.

The time is November 1932. L.W. Coffee, the real estate developer who actually created Desert Hot Springs, had just arrived at Garnet Station with his wife Lillian. He had already met Cabot Yerxa in Moorpark who had told him of the hot and cold waters he had found and provided the Coffees with a map. Hiking across the desert on foot, they spotted the oasis at Two Bunch Palms. They stopped at what had been the holdings of Cabot Yerxa, before hiking on to the homestead of Bill Anderson at what is now 8th and Palm Drive. He was one of only two permanent residents in the area. Anderson welcomed Coffee, even though all he could offer them was hotcakes and coffee, and he had only half a bag of water because his pump was broken...

Coffee's eyes scanned the valley below them in the rich, fading twilight. Ten miles away the splendid spike of granite called Mount San Jacinto stood majestic and proud. From her peak and descending gently over her escarpments was a skimpy mantilla of snow, now glowing in the orangey light. Below this the slopes were delicate shades of lilac and purple and black. The air was keen on the back of the throat and there was a great silence flung over this magnificent desertscape. In his mind, Coffee's dream was already materializing.

Following dinner that evening, Anderson related to his guests how difficult it had been to improve his quarter section and that there were no tangible returns of any kind from the homestead.

"Then how do you make ends meet, Bill?" Coffee asked him.

"Well, times I get over to Indio and do buildin', paintin', you know, odd jobs. Then I'll stock up on basics and head back over here, to the old place."

He drifted to a stop, as the trio became aware of the fading light shooting up behind San Jacinto projecting high over the mountains and the pass into a pale golden, red and purple fan of magnificent beauty.

It was Anderson who broke their reverie. "Like this every night, just about."

Up behind them in a canyon came the short sharp calls of a lone coyote, signaling the beginning of night on the desert.

They kept listening, but there was only the slight rustling of the creosote bushes. "Times it's lonely out here, but it's sure beautiful. I always thought this area would naturally attract more homesteaders like myself. Why, look at this view, and it's far better than you get over there at Palm Springs."

This book should be required reading for any resident of DHS. You can pick it up for $20 at the Sidewinder Cafe, the Paradise Cafe, the Chamber of Commerce or, of course, the Cabot Pueblo Museum. Those from outside the area can mail order it from the author. Just send $25.99 to
John J. Hunt
P.O. Box 156
Desert Hot Springs 92240

Filed under Books,Coachella Valley,Desert Hot Springs | permalink | November 26, 2007 at 09:23 PM

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