Palm Springs Village Green Museums

Patrick and I just returned home from a week in Palm Springs, like we do every March, as Patrick has an annual work conference there. During this year’s visit I spent a lot time at museums, and finally visited several small museums that are all clustered together.

Located in the heart of Palm Springs is the Village Green, a small park that is home to not one, not two, not even three, but four small museums; the Cornelia White House, the McCallum Adobe, Ruddy’s General Store, and the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum.

I’ll start with my favorite, the Cornelia White House. The building itself was originally built by Dr. and Mrs. Welwood Murray in 1893, and was built using railroad ties from a failed narrow-gauge line connecting the Southern Pacific depot with Palmdale. And was part of the couple’s Palm Springs Hotel. It was later purchased by Cornelia Butler White, and this woman was quite the character!

Cornelia White was born in 1874 in upstate New York, and one of eleven children. She loved to travel, and even traveled the Nile River in Egypt. She was also a professor, and from 1905 to 1912 taught domestic science at the University of North Dakota. Following her teaching stint, she moved to Mexico. One of Cornelia’s sisters, Florilla White, a doctor by trade, joined her, along with Carl Lykken, a mining engineer. However as revolutionary war broke out in Mexico, the trio had to flee. They escaped by operating a railroad handcar and traveled over 80 miles to the coast. Before joining her sister in Mexico, Florilla had spent time in Palm Springs at the hotel operated by Dr. Murray, and after escaping Mexico, Florilla suggested a move to Palm Springs. After arriving in Palm Springs in 1913, they bought the hotel Murray owned, and by 1915, another White sister, Isabel White, joined them. Isabel eventually married an author by the name of J. Smeaton Chase, while neither of the sisters, nor their friend Lykken, ever married.

Cornelia enjoyed riding, hiking, and even participating in cattle driving! And she always wore a leather jacket, riding breeches and boots. She is quoted as saying “But I do have dresses and petticoats, I want you to know. I keep them to wear to funerals. I’m afraid it just wouldn’t do to go in riding breeches and my fringed leather jacket – would it?”

By 1944, after Florilla’s death, Cornelia’s home was at risk of being demolished. It was saved though, and moved to another location. Cornelia lived there until 1959, and passed away in 1961. In 1979 the house was moved by flatbed truck to its current location at the Village Green. It is the second oldest standing building Palm Springs, and resides, fittingly, next to the McCallum Adobe, which is the oldest standing building in Palm Springs.

Needless to say it sounds like Cornelia is a woman after my own heart! Her home is a very unique treasure within Palm Springs. Some of the items inside the home belonged to Cornelia, while other pieces of the period were donated.

The Cornelia White House is open Wednesday through Saturday 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, and Sundays noon to 3:00 pm. It is free to the public, but a $1.00 donation is suggested.

Next to the Cornelia White House is the McCallum Adobe, which as I mentioned above, is the oldest standing building in Palm Springs, and was built in 1885 by John and Emily McCallum, the area’s first white settlers, with the help of local Native Americans. It was originally built on the corner of Palm Canyon Drive and Tahquitz Way, where it was later part of the Oasis Hotel. It was moved to its current site in 1950.

Today the McCallum Adobe is a museum dedicated to the history of Palm Springs, from Native Americans to it becoming the sun-soaked playground of the stars. The McCallum Adobe Museum does not allow for photography, so sadly I cannot share any of its amazing artifacts with you. The McCallum Adobe keeps the same hours as the Cornelia White House. It is also free to visit, but a $1.00 donation is also suggested.

To the right of the McCallum Adobe is Ruddy’s General Store, which is really something, in that it is a complete fictional general store. It is made up entirely of one man’s collection of new-old stock merchandise from shops, and has items from the turn-of-the-century through the 1960s, but with its main focus on the 1930s and 40s.

Ruddy’s General Store costs 95 cents to take a turn about. It’s open during the months of September through May, Thursday through Sunday, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.

To the right of Ruddy’s General Store is the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum.

Like the McCullum Adobe, the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum does not allow for photography. The museum offers insight into the Native Americans who first called the Palm Springs and Coachella Valley area home, and during my visit housed an incredible display on basketry.

The Agua Caliente Cultural Museum is free to visit, although you can make a donation if you wish. They also have a wonderful selection books about Native Americans, as well turquoise jewelry for purchase.

That wraps up the first of three Palm Springs posts! I hope you are all having a wonderful weekend!

Corriganville

Over the weekend Patrick and I visited Corriganville Park, the former location of Corriganville, a western backlot and amusement park of sorts from 1949 to 1965.

Corriganville was built by movie and TV actor Ray Bernard, but better known as Crash Corrigan. After going on a hunting trip in Simi Valley with fellow actor, Clark Gable, in 1935, Corrigan fell in love with the area. In 1937, Corrigan purchased over 1,000 acres of land, and built his home there. He eventually went on to build an entire western backlot, dubbed Silvertown, and many films and TV showers were filmed there, including Fort Apache, The Bandit of Sherwood Forest, How the West was Won, Lassie, The Lone Ranger, Gunsmoke, and more. In 1949 Corrigan decided to open his backlot to the public, and the area turned into an amusement park on weekends, while still being a fully functioning backlot during the week. Think of it like a blend of Knott’s Berry Farm and Universal Studios.

He also allowed film crews to build their own sets, as long as they left them standing after filming, which is how the area got a “Corsican Village” after Howard Hughes’ 1950 film Vendetta.

After selling Corriganville in 1965 to Bob Hope, the area suffered two fires, one in 1971 and another in 1979, leaving almost nothing standing. Today, Corriganville is a park, and visitors can walk among the concrete foundations and visit what remains of a man-made lake that was originally used for the Jungle Jim series, but was used in for a variety of films, including Creature from the Black Lagoon and The African Queen, as it featured a camera house built under a bridge with thick glass windows, allowing for underwater filming.

Continue reading for images of the remains of Corriganville, postcards of what it looked like, and more!

Continue reading

Salvation Mountain

Each time I would visit Palm Springs and return home I would get asked “Did you go to Salvation Mountain?” Here’s the funny thing about where Salvation Mountain is… It’s hardly “close” to Palm Springs. Palm Springs, and its neighboring cities of Palm Desert, Cathedral City, and Indio are the closest cities of any real consequence to Salvation Mountain, which is actually located in Niland, near the southeastern edge of the Salton Sea, and about 75 miles from Palm Springs. But it’s like, if you’re already that far out into the desert, why not go? And this time we finally made it. So, what is Salvation Mountain?

In 1984 a man by the name of Leonard Knight trekked out to Niland and began to build a monument to God, and the message of “God is Love”, a message Knight felt so deeply and wanted to share with the world. He added to the mountain in a variety of ways every day. He also covered his vehicles in the same message with incredible detail. Seriously. People come for the mountain, but the trucks to me are the real work of art. No matter your religious beliefs, I think Salvation Mountain is a must see for those interested in the weird and bizarre of California’s desert landscape, as well as those interested in folk art, because it truly is a prime example of folk art.

Knight passed away in February of 2014, but Salvation Mountain doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. It’s still looked after, and it is still an incredibly popular spot for people to visit, at least a dozen people came and went while we were there.

This pretty much wraps it up for my Palm Springs posts. I did a bit of shopping, and am contemplating a “haul” post, but not entirely sold on the idea yet…so we’ll see!

Outfit
Hat: Ricochet, Joshua Tree, California
Blouse & Shorts: Buffalo Exchange
Belt: I honestly don’t remember…
Sandals: Minnetonka

Palm Springs Aerial Tram

It’s March, and that means it’s time for Patrick’s annual conference in Palm Springs. Last year I wasn’t able to tag along like past years, as I was working, but now that I’ve quit, I’m able to spend time in the dreamy desert of Palm Springs.

We arrived yesterday and after checking into our adorable hotel (which I’m sure will get its own blog post), we headed off to do one of the most touristy things in Palm Springs, the aerial tram.

I had been to the summit of Mount San Jacinto via the tram before, but Patrick had yet to do it, so it was a new experience for him.

It was quite windy at the summit, and colder than I expected, so we only snapped a few pictures while enjoying the stunning views.

I’m utterly in love with this massive outdoor fireplace along the balcony that overlooks Palm Springs.

The Palm Springs Aerial Tram charm on my charm bracelet was actually a find a few years back at Expo, which I bought to add to my California themed charm bracelet. Upon entering the gift shop I was surprised to find that they still sold the charm!

We’re in Palm Springs for a week, and while Patrick is at his conference I have a few adventures of my own planned, but also slated a healthy dose of relaxing by the pool.

Outfit 
Mexican Tourist Jacket & Scarf: I don’t remember…
Dress: Red Light, Portland, Oregon
Shoes: Re-Mix
Purse: Lux De Ville
Turquoise Ring: West of Texas, Redlands, California…I think…
Charm Bracelet: Made up of charms I’ve found at various shops and shows

The Wigwam Motel

During the week Patrick decided to surprise me with a mini, one night getaway at the Wigwam Motel in Rialto on Route 66!

An icon of the Mother Road, the Wigwam Motel is a handful of concrete tipi structures that are quaint, and of course, small. There honestly wasn’t much to do in the small town of Rialto, and its neighbor, San Bernardino, but we found some light entertainment in the odd McDonald’s Museum, located where the very first McDonald’s was. We also stumbled upon the restaurant that Mad Men used for its Burger Chef scene in the episode “The Strategy” (S7 Ep6), Chris’s Burgers, which was in fact a Burger Chef originally. And, yes, we sat in the same booth as the cast in the scene.

While I can now cross this off my list of unique places I want to stay at, I still would love to visit the other surviving Wigwam Motel, located in Halbook, Arizona. How about you? Do you ever want to stay at unique lodgings just for the heck of it?

Outfit
Dress: Retro Rejuvenation, Coburg, Oregon
Belt: Nordstorm
Shoes: Re-Mix
Purse: Buffalo Exchange
Turquoise Rings: Here and there
Western Themed Charm Bracelet: Put together by me, from charms from various places

Atomic Testing Museum

When I heard that Las Vegas was home to the National Atomic Testing Museum, I was quite giddy with excitement and it went to the top of my list of things to do during our short stay.

The image of the atom or of a mushroom cloud may bring out different feelings in different people. For some, it is a horrific icon, of a time when the United States used the ultimate in destructive power to completely level two whole cities. While others see it as a savor, something that brought an end to the bloodshed of the Second World War. For others it is an icon of nostalgia, believing that while the Cold War raged, it was a safer time period. For me, the word “atomic” has many meanings, mostly as part of the optimistic look we had toward the stars, and how atomic power and the space race then influenced design. But, as a history major, I am not unaware of the cost of such beautiful design. Little Boy and Fat Man killed thousands. But also brought an end to a very horrific war, and, some historians estimate, saved millions, as Japan seemed unrelenting. I see both sides of the coin of the terror of the atomic bomb, nuclear power (for example the Chernobyl disaster), but I also see the problems it has solved, and while the National Atomic Testing Museum highlights the pluses of the atomic bomb, and the sciences that followed, it is not without the other side represented as well.

The museum begins with World War II, the Manhattan Project, and the end of the war with the dropping of the bombs, and the decision to choose the land outside of Las Vegas as a testing ground in the 1950s. It follows the aftermath of WWII, the 50s period of “Duck and Cover”, Civil Defense, and the influence on popular culture. I especially liked the fallout shelter display, which also had a catalog of the mannequins used, offering both before and after pictures, some whose after picture was just a black rectangle with the word “missing” below. J.C. Penny produced the images, as they provided the clothing for the mannequins set to be bombed. A clever marketing scheme if there ever was one! By 1963 nuclear testing moved underground, due to fallout, and the museum showcases the transition, and technology developed for the move to underground testing.

I was so very pleased I was able to visit this extremely unique museum as it was also very educational, and is worth a visit if you find yourself in Vegas. Admission costs $22, though discounts are offered to a wide variety of groups, so check their website to see if a discount is available for you!

Calico

This weekend’s trip to Vegas was my first visit since the late 90s, and my first time driving there. Not to mention it was Patrick’s first ever visit to America’s playground. On our way we made some stops, including the ghost town of Calico.

Founded in 1881, Calico’s mines produced millions in silver, before silver dropped in price, and it became a ghost town for decades until Walter Knott, of Knott’s Berry Farm fame, purchased the property in 1951, restoring it and offering it as an attraction of sorts.

Today Calico is operated by San Bernardino County Regional Parks system, and the site offers buildings that have stood the test of time, some with artifacts, others turned into gift shops and restaurants, there is a “Mystery Shack” and even a train ride. Patrick and I had fun exploring, and we dined on buffalo burgers while sipping sarsaparilla at the Calico House Restaurant.

For those wishing to visit Calico, it is located off of Interstate 15, about 120 miles out of Los Angeles. It’s a swell place to stop on your way to Vegas or LA if you’re coming from the east, or if you are cruising Route 66 and find yourself in Barstow, it’s only a few minutes away! It costs $8.00 per person to enter Calico, and other amusements, such as the train, panning for gold, and the Mystery Shack are an additional cost.

Have you ever been to Calico or another ghost town?

Stay tuned for more on our trip!

Outfit
White Fringe Leather Jacket: Simply Vintage Boutique, Portland, Oregon
Brian Setzer Tee: Brian Setzer concert a few years back
Jeans: Freddies of Pinewood
Mocs: Minnetonka
Purse: Buffalo Exchange, Portland, Oregon