Thursday, September 10, 2015

Private Property within a National Park?

My latest adventure was over the Labor Day weekend. Early Sunday evening, I drove into Joshua Tree National Park. My main goal was to get some sunset shots and perhaps even some Milky Way shots. Using Google Maps, I had seen some structures not too far off the main highway that looked secluded and interesting. So off I hiked, camera bag, tripod, and flashlight in hand!

Within less than a mile, I came across a small road. I was expecting it (based on my Google Maps research), but what I wasn't expecting was a road without any tire marks or footprints. None. This road hadn't been driven on or even hiked on in some time, which seemed odd.

Hiking in just after sunset, I was treated to pretty desert skies and purple clouds.

A few hundred yards up the road, I found the first structure I had seen on Google Maps. Actually, structures (pleural).
Two pink cabins nestled up against the rocks. Both appeared to be abandoned and in bad shape (doors open and windows broken out). I'm pretty sure I saw bats flying in and out of one of the cabins. Finding these old cabins was not only exciting but raised a ton of questions. Since these are in the National Park, are they owned and maintained by the Park Service? What's their history? Why aren't they being maintained and why aren't they on the Park Service maps?? Here's another shot of one of the cabins. You can just barely see the old silver water tank out back, so the cabin likely has (or had) plumbing, but no electricity.

I very nearly missed it, but there's an old vintage trailer about 100 yards to the west of the cabins, hiding in the bushes.
I thought of my sister, who just finished restoring her own vintage trailer. She would like this. The little pink trailer looks like it's been sitting here a really long time. In very good condition, other than a couple broken windows. Here's a closer shot...
Peaking in the window, I could see the trailer was full of stuff. Boxes piled high. Again, all the questions swirling around in my mind. Who owned it? Why is it being left here to deteriorate? How interesting would it be to spend an afternoon sorting through the contents of this little "time capsule"! Looking at the cholla cactus growing in front of the door (and knowing how slow these cactus grow) makes me think no one's been in this trailer for a number of years!

A little further up the road, I found this old adobe homestead cabin.
How cool is this!!?  It's in one of the most beautiful spots in the Park, with incredible boulder formations all around it. Keep in mind that by the time I found this little cabin, it was already dark. I wasn't able to do much exploring, just take the photo and move on. This is a 10 second exposure, helped along a bit by shining my flashlight toward the cabin.

Time to start heading back to my car. I haven't hiked too far, but it's now nighttime and I need to hike across open desert (no trail) to get back to my car. The last thing I want is to get turned around and have to spend the night in the desert!

Oh yes, and I did manage to get some decent Milky Way shots on my hike back. Here's one of my favorites.
Postscript: After posting the cabin pics on the Joshua Tree National Park Photographers page on Facebook, I learned this area is the "Cohn property". Strange as it may seem, this is private property within a National Park. The owners laid claim to the land and were living there prior to the land surrounding it being declared a National Monument in 1936 (Joshua Tree became a National Park in 1994). Although I didn't see any signs of him (or her), a caretaker lives in the area full time. Another website I found has this to say about the Cohn property: "The area marked off on the map on page 80 [the Cohn property] is privately owned. The owners are very unfriendly, and [rock] climbers have actually been shot at for trespassing here! Unless or until this situation changes, all climbers are advised to stay off this property." Yikes, glad I didn't run into that caretaker! A final thought: If my family owned this property, I would be living out here full time and restoring these cabins! Incredibly beautiful location within Joshua Tree National Park.

Post Postscript:  Mr./Mrs. Cohn, if you read this and are interested in selling your property, please contact me immediately!!

Linking with Skywatch Friday. Click on the link to check out great skies from around the world!!

44 comments:

  1. I agree, I would be living there if I owned that property!

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  2. Oh you found your nirvana. Are you interested in the property or just the trailer (wink, wink)? What a fabulous find. So glad you were lucky to peek without being shot :)

    Worth a Thousand Words

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  3. Fascinating post, and very intriguing. Loved your captures, wonderful night photography.
    Thanks for sharing all the info.

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  4. Fascinating stuff. Those old buildings would have quite the stories to tell.

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  5. Beautiful scenery. The skies are awesome!

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  6. What a great adventure! It is fun to imagine what the cabins and trailer would look like restored. Beautiful pictures!

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  7. To me, how interesting people live in trailers, I would think I can live in one like that.

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  8. What a fine to see these old homes still there abandoned. I love the look of that old trailer too. Gorgeous scenery and skies!

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  9. you're right...your sister does like that trailer..
    beautiful photography...

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  10. So glad that you were able to shoot without being shot at. In the UK our National Parks are not owned by the state but are simply preserved by very tight planning regulations. Since the best of our landscapes are man-made landscapes rather than wilderness areas this makes sense. Our network of footpaths and "right to roam" access laws means that you can still wander pretty widely without getting into too much conflict with the inhabitants.

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  11. Awesome skies and superb captures of everything!!! Literally!!! And these did indeed take my breath away!! Thank you for sharing!!!

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  12. oops! you got lucky no one was around, i guess! neat, neat find, though!

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  13. What delightful shots! Love that pink trailer.

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  14. lucky you are finding this interesting place and not being shot by this caretaker !
    fantastic van, i love it !!! and the cabins look beautiful. i would like to know how this caretaker looks like...from a safe distance ;-)
    happy weekend

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  15. Excellent shots of exotic landscapes!

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  16. Wow!!Soo interesting!!!!what some people living there in those surroundings!!Wild Western:))))

    Iam a big fan of American nature and history!Look much on old western movies .The photoes you show let me dream away!!

    Sure iam going to visit the places you show us sometime in my life

    That milky way is just awsome too

    Thanx for showing us this beauty!

    Kindly regards Anita

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  17. What an exciting adventure. And more dangerous than you realised. Love all those rock and boulder shapes. A gorgeous place.

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  18. A strange find indeed but what a nice photo's again. I love it.

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  19. It would be awesome to town a cabin inside a national park. What a great find, I like the cute pink trailer. Your sky shots are just stunning. Well done! Happy Friday, have a great weekend!

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  20. several nice shots...but I would be remiss for now going wow...for that 2nd and last shot. (just saying)

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  21. What a wonderful and fascinating location.
    You were lucky that the armed owner wasn't there.

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  22. Darn! I was all prepared to make an offer and have you find out who the agent is handling this property. Then I read the postscript. :( Seriously though, I'm with you. What an ideal homestead to have.

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  23. What a beautiful park and I love those old cabins. Very wise to see if something is on sale.

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  24. What a beautiful park and I love those old cabins. Very wise to see if something is on sale.

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  25. Fascinating post and what an adventure for you and gorgeous photos besides!

    Happy Weekend to you,
    artmusedog and carol

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  26. These are great pictures--- I somehow missed the change from National Monument to Nation Park. I wish they'd do the same for Mt. St. Helens. Oh-- and I'm glad you didn't get shot by the care-taker.

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  27. That is interesting but I have heard of private property within national parks before particularly Grand Teton National Park which was donated to the nation by the Rockefeller's (I think, don't quote me). There were some private owners who didn't sell out. My father worked for the US Forest Service which of course has nothing to do with the park service.There is lots of private land within forest boundaries owned privately

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  28. I was beginning to fear for your safety as darkness fell. Obviously vandals have visited and you probably did not tour the entire parcel. Well, Mr/Mrs Cohn hasn't commented yet.

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  29. very very very cool indeed! gosh such a stunning landscape to live in, when did the area become a national park? gotta love the old retro 1950s caravan.

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  30. Absolutely stunning landscapes and scenery. Your photos are fantastic!

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  31. Fascinating place! Glad you made the trip and for sharing all the great pics!

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  32. Very interesting story. Kind of spooky, though.

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  33. Beautiful photos - that's a great area to go hiking. There are privately owned parcels inside national forests here in Colorado, it depends on when claims were filed. This is especially true of mining claims within national lands.

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  34. well, that was an interesting hike. And ended with a beautiful sky. What a wonderful way to spend a day, or weekend. Thanks for sharing.

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  35. Oh wow that milky way shot is just brilliant!!!

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  36. If those properties are for sale you may have to form an orderly line to buy it!!

    Great shots - I hope to get some night sky shots on my next break.

    cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

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  37. Beautiful pictures and what an interesting post. I would love to go inside that little pink trailer, but after hearing about the owners, I think I'll pass!

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  38. This is fascinating! What a find. And glad you added the postscript. I have heard of private places within national Forest lands being grandfathered in , so I guess it could happen in a NP as well. I wonder if it was written up to revert to the Park if the family no longer wanted it? I wonder if you could go to the County to look up info about the property? (They must have to pay property taxes somewhere and that is public records).

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  39. I am reading your post from the beginning, it was so interesting to read & I feel thanks to you for posting such a good blog, keep updates regularly..
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