(Click to Enlarge Photos)
QUEEN VALLEY AT JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK is a relatively flat plain trending north to south for about eight and one-half miles from Queen Mountain to Pleasant Valley. The landscape starts at an elevation of over 4500ft descending slowly at first and then rapidly to about 3600ft at Squaw Tank and Malapai Hill. The upper portion includes some of the usual tourist favorites like Wall Street Mill and the pink colored “Uncle Willie’s Health Food Store” (the former residence of herb-store proprietor, Signe Ohlson who died in 1986, age 100). But Queen Valley also has wilderness and near-wilderness areas stretching east to Pine City and Negro Hill and is bounded by the historic Desert Queen Mine and Eagle Cliff Mine ruins.
Head east from Barker Dam parking lot on the old graded dirt passage known as Big Horn Pass Road (right images above and below) which is suitable when dry for any car, van, SUV, pickup truck, mule or donkey (horseback riding is only allowed on the Riding and Hiking Trail further south below Park Boulevard). Big Horn Pass road eventually connects with Park Blvd. once more due west of Geology Tour Road. A northern branch of Big Horn Road leads to the Pine City/Desert Queen Mine back country board and hiking trails.
The most convenient parking for your hike to Wall Street Mill is the dirt lot a quarter of a mile east of the main lot for Barker Dam. From here, an old road once used by the residents in the area (William Keys, Signe Ohlson, and Worth Bagley) leads to the ruins of an old pink house (Ohlson house), now much deteriorated. Nearby is a rusted automobile, a wind mill; the trail continues past the spot where William Keys shot and mortally wounded Worth Bagley in a gunfight in 1943.
Sadly, due to vandalism, the marker stone Keys erected to commemorate the incident had to be replaced by a 3/4″-steel replica (the original is held in safe storage by the Park Service). In 2013, I was fortunate to photograph the original one in 3D before the vandalism occurred. Friend Elliot Koeppel took a photograph of the Bagley stone on Apr. 29, 2014, after someone had highlighted the letters in green. He recently visited the site where he took a picture of the new steel replacement. For comparison, readers can view both the 2014 colored version and the new one HERE.
At this point, the old dirt road leading to the mill bends north where it merges with a large sandy wash. Three-quarters of a mile from the car park can be found the remains of the Wall Street Mill, owned and operated by William Keys, and last operated (for publicity purposes, it seems) in 1966.
On this Page will be found 2D images exclusively*, highlighting the various aspects and scenery found in Queen Valley’s northern end. More detailed 2D & 3D Galleries are available at the following links:
- a.k.a. Signe Ohlson’s House
- Old Car • Windmill
- Worth Bagley Memorial
- Scenery & Cloud Formations
- Mill and Equipment
- Well and Pump
- Old Cars
- Summertime Colors
For Southern Queen Valley Galleries see:
Queen Valley Points of Interest
Ohlson Residence (a.k.a. “Uncle Willie’s”)
We assume that Worth Bagley constructed this house on his property at the entrance to Wonderland Valley. When Bagley was shot and killed by William Keys in 1943, Bagley’s heirs or the estate trustees presumably sold it to Signe Ohlson.
Early in 2015, my friend and fellow rapscallion, E!—he of Cali49.com fame—forwarded an email message he had received from a woman named Sheila. Paraphrasing what she told E!, she lived at the Ohlson House in 1959-62. The lady who owned it, Signe Ohlson, was proprietor of a health food store in Yucca Valley where Sheila worked with her there. Signe was the personal secretary to Paramahansa Yogananda in the 1920’s.
- Yogananda, born Mukunda Lal Ghosh, 1893-1952, was a Bengali swami or spiritualist according to his Wikipedia entry, “an Indian yogi and guru who introduced millions of westerners to the teachings of meditation and Kriya Yoga through his book, Autobiography of a Yogi.”
In Sheila’s email she told my friend that Signe had the place “very beautiful” and that she was given the room at the end. There was a wood stove and a sink, “the outhouse was a short distance away.” Signe had a gasoline generator not to far from the house to fill the water tank. “We had oil lamps for light.”
Photographs exist in Joshua Tree reference books showing this house as late as the 1970s, still intact. Sadly, once the roof was gone it has deteriorated rapidly.
Windmill and Worth Bagley Marker
Queen Valley Miscellany
Wall Street Mill
Queen Valley Pictograph Hike
Queen Mountain is the most prominent peak in Joshua Tree National Park’s Queen Valley. In November, 2013, E! and I decided to find some Native American pictographs about a mile east of O’Dell Road parking loop. We headed for the most prominent feature there, a fair-sized rock pile at the base of the mountain known as The White Cliffs. Before us in the distance rose the rounded dome-like Negro Hill, suitably named after the Spanish word for a dark color. Along the way we encountered a flowering nolina plant, a number of red barrel cacti, and some grizzly bear prickly pear cacti with fuzzy white hairs glinting in the sun. I’d seen this type before around Ryan Ranch ruins in Lost Horse Valley. Our path took us steadily up hill along a gentle slope. Fortunately, E! had taken his GPS device, having procured the coordinates of the pictograph site. We spent an enjoyable morning exploring the beautiful open spaces in this end of Queen Valley, with Queen Mountain looming above us most of the way. Please visit Elliot’s web page of the Pictograph boulder HERE.
↓ Use Red–Cyan 3D Glasses ↓
Posted 2016 Feb 10
Updated 2019 Mar 19