Joshua Tree – Part 3 – Wall St. Mill, and William Keys

William Keys was a guy who tried to carve a place for himself in JT, arriving somewhere around 1910 or so. He didn’t turn the place into a thriving metropolis, or anything even resembling a civilized town, this landscape is just not conducive to that. He gave it a good try though, and built this thing called the ‘Wall St Mill’ to mine something that would make him rich, ‘Wall St.’ rich.
It didn’t happen, but the ruins of his efforts are quite interesting, in several ways.

One, that anyone made so much effort to do anything out here. Nowadays, people in LA hop in their car and drive to Vegas or Joshua Tree in a few hours, a journey that not long ago took many arduous days.
Two? …Mr. Keys left many broken down automobiles:




Now? .. we have Onstar service, GPS, cell phones and AAA. We live an easy life, these days, don’t we?
And the ‘technology’ of the Wall St Mill? By today’s standards, totally antiquated, all rube-goldberg type stuff, belts and pulleys, and wood frame structures w/ corrugated metal sheets nailed to it.

WallStMill118WallStMill116117Here’s a couple more of his creations, I haven’t visited them (they are ‘guided tours’, and i don’t like those):

Lost Horse Mine:

Keys Ranch:


William F. Keys was born in Russia on September 27, 1879, Bill Keys and his family moved to Nebraska in the early 1890s. He left home at the age of 15 and began working at mills, mines, and cattle ranches. In 1910, Keys arrived in the Twentynine Palms area where he began working at the Desert Queen Mine as custodian and assayer (one who analyzes ore and judges its worth). After the owner’s death, Keys gained possession of the mine as payment for back wages. In 1917, he filed on an 80 acre homestead under the Homestead Act and began to build a ranch. He soon married Frances May Lawton, who left the comforts of the city to move to the Mojave Desert ranch and start a family. The couple had seven children between 1919 and 1931, three of whom died during childhood. Together the Keys family tackled the hardships of isolated desert life. Eventually, the Keys’ homestead included a ranch house, store, two school houses, a home for a teacher, outhouses, sheds, a stamp mill, a corral, supply yard, orchard, cement dam and lake, windmill, irrigation systems, rock retaining walls, and a cemetery.

And then there’s this:


And this, famously known as ‘Keys view’.
It’s a killer view, trust me, if you go there you will be overwhelmed, no two ways about it.



Here’s a few good links for ya:

There has recently been a rash of vandalism at JT.


I hope karma comes home to roost on whoever did this. Don’t add to it, and if you see someone doing anything similar, report them… but stay safe in doing so.

Oh, and just for the hell of it, one more ‘road’ image.


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