PILGRIMS IN THE DESERT
The Early History of the East Mojave Desert and the Baker, California Area
Hayes also doesn't tell the story by himself. Diary entries, logs, and excerpts from other historians help tell the tale.
Luckily one of the other techniques Hayes has at his disposal is that relatives and in some cases the people that formed the history
are still with us and interviews and contributions from them are liberally spaced throughout the book. Some of the transcripts
of interviews, like the one with "Dad" Fairbanks grandson Phil Lisle are especially interesting.
One other thing that I found intriguing is in the earlier sections of the book. Hayes relates some earlier travelers' diary
entries (like Kit Carson and John C. Fremont) and follows the description of the trails they followed. Hayes spent a lot of
time trying to find some of these trails. He gives detailed accounts of where the trails might be. At first these sections
are a bit confusing, but in Appendix A of the book he gives a detailed run down on how to navigate through the desert.
Of course the book is full of pictures, many given to him by prominent families in the history. One thing he does is describe
in detail his physical investigations of the pictures. One good example of this is in chapter 8, 1930-39 where there is discussion
of one of the founders of Baker, Ralph Jacobus "Dad" Fairbanks and when he moved his gas station called the "Big Blue". Through
examination of the pictures Hayes finds more details of the move and makes some interesting observations.
In all, "Pilgrims in the Desert" is more than just the story of the East Mojave Desert, it is a great resource for anyone interested
in our history. It is also a collection of some detailed research and interviews that may have been lost if not for Hayes
Desert Dispatch Newspaper
December 6, 2005
Backward Glance by Steve Smith
One of the nice things that happened when I started writing Backward Glance is meeting interesting and devoted people who are interested in history. One of these people is Le Hayes. He is fascinated with the history of the East Mojave and his adopted hometown of Baker, California. Hayes has written a book about the trails and paths that lead through the area and the colorful people that formed the oasis of Baker, titled "Pilgrims in the Desert", The Early History of the East Mojave Desert and Baker, California.
I got an advance copy of his book and gladly tore into it to read some of the stories that Hayes has told me and also to read of some of my favorite people in history.
What struck me about the book is the interesting fashion in which it is laid out. One of the defining moments of the Baker area is the travels of Father Francisco Garces, who made five trips into the area starting in 1776. Hayes' book proceeds chronologically from that point for a 200 year span of history with each chapter covering a period making the book a detailed timeline. One of the interesting things that Hayes does is that he not only relates the history of the area, he also relates certain events of American (and in some cases World) history that happened at the same time as the local history. I found this technique made the story that much more relevant.