PROJECT PARTNER: Joshua Tree National Park
SESSION DATES: TBD. This project was postponed due to Covid. Registered volunteers will have first priority when this project is rescheduled.
The uniquely beautiful Joshua Tree National Park has been inhabited for at least 5,000 years. The National Park Service recognizes the Pinto Culture as the first group to have lived in the area, but other Indigenous cultures including the Cahuilla, Chemehuevi, and Serrano peoples called this area home at different points in history.
Cattleman and miners arrived in the region in the 1800s, seeking to take advantage of the then-abundant natural resources: lush grass and gold were notable draws. Roughly one hundred years later, homesteaders moved in, and they further altered the landscape through building cabins, digging wells, and planting crops.
In 1936, not too long after folks started staking claims here for homesteads, Joshua Tree was established as a National Park. Park advocate and one-time southern belle Minerva Hoyt worked tirelessly to ensure the park’s protection. Though she didn’t achieve the same level of recognition for her impact on Joshua Tree that luminaries such as John Muir and Ferdinand Hadyen did for their work to preserve Yosemite and Yellowstone, respectively, without Minerva Hoyt, Joshua Tree may not have achieved National Park status. Joshua Tree is especially unique because it contains two distinct desert ecosystems, the Mojave and the Colorado, and is home to the iconic tree that give the park its name.
The Eagle Cliff Blacksmith Shop shares history with the miners and homesteaders that lived here. The shop is thought to have been built in the late 1800s and can only be accessed by a 2-mile hike. Our partner shares, “The Eagle Cliff Mine and its associated structures have been determined eligible for listing on the National Register. The site demonstrates evidence of both habitation and mining activity at a moderately successful, small-scale operation in challenging desert conditions.”
Volunteers will hike in and out daily, and should plan to carry all their own water and personal gear – as well as help schlep lightweight tools and supplies as needed for project work!
Learn more about the park’s ecology, its history, and its namesake tree from the National Park Service.