Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Towns No One Wanted: Desert Center, California


Some people with money and a vision feel compelled to set up a town in an ideal location where perhaps travelers could stop on long-distance drives. But, such was the case for the Bates Motel and when the new highway opened, they were nothing more than a forgotten side street. The town of Desert Center, California was born with a vision from one man, a dreamer in a desert that offered little hope.




Steve Ragsdale, a minister, founded the town of Desert Center, California around 1915. It was a wild dream of having a town in the middle of the desert between LA and Phoenix, a regular oasis. He had a cafe, school, gas station, and more buildings erected. 




This crazy dreamer thought he could induce folks to come and live there and work there. He sent for a teacher and built a schoolhouse of cardboard which the goats promptly got loose and ate.  He had big dreams for it and they included no booze, he was a teetotaler and adamant about "no drunks allowed."

He eventually died and his sons took over. A nearby steel corporation and some snowbirds keep the town barely alive today. 

In the early 90s, one of the Ragsdale sons had hundreds of palm trees erected. When he died in 1999, the trees died off too from neglect, leaving a very eerie tree cemetery.  

(photos below by Alex Clauss Design)














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