The San Gorgonio Pass
John Fraim (May 2012)
“In the ancient days when the shore of the Pacific was young, when the white sierras had only recently been heaved upward and the desert itself was in a formative stage, the ocean reached much farther inland than at the present time. It pushed through many a pass and flooded many a depression in the sands, as its wave-marks upon granite bases and its numerous beaches still bear witness. In those days that portion of the Colorado Desert known as the Salton Basin did not exist. The Gulf of California extended as far north as the San Bernardino Range and as far west as the Pass of San Gorgonio. Its waters stood deep where now lies the road-bed of the Southern Pacific railway, and all the country from Indio almost to the Colorado River was a blue sea. The Bowl was full. No one knew if it had a bottom or imagined that it would eve be emptied of water and given over to the drifting sands.”
John Van Dyke, The Desert (1901)
* * *
Reading John Van Dyke’s 1901 The Desert this morning at the local Starbucks this morning at the busy intersection of Monterey and Country Club in Palm Desert. Just put the above quote from John Van Dyke at the beginning of my growing book on the history of Palm Desert. Hard to find a more dramatic way to start the book! Nature – when even remotely appreciated – is always much more dramatic than all the cultural noises and images we continue to clutter it with.