Bishop - California State Historical Landmarks - Inyo County


Bishop and the Owens Valley in Inyo County, the second largest county in the United States with a population of slightly over 17,000 residents, contains the highest and lowest points in the contiguous United States; Mt. Whitney, 14,496 feet above sea level, and Badwater in Death Valley, 282 feet below sea level. A difference of nearly 15,000 feet.

 The Great Basin bristlecone pines are the oldest life forms in the world. Trout fishing, hiking in the Sierra mountains, alpine climbing, spring backcountry skiing, hang gliding, horsepacking and mountain biking are a few of the man adventures set to the backdrop of granite peaks. The High Sierras have been sculpted by glaciers, wind and weather with pristine beauty that makes John Muir Wilderness a treasure, virtually unchanged for thousands of years.


NO. 208 SAN FRANCIS RANCH - In 1861, Samuel A. Bishop, his wife, and party left Fort Tejón for the Owens Valley driving 650 head of stock. On August 22, Bishop reached a creek later named for him and southwest of this spot. San Francis Ranch was established there. At the site a peace treaty was signed by the settlers and the chiefs of the Paiute Indians.
Location: 3 mi SW of Bishop at intersection of Red Hill Rd and State Hwy 168

NO. 209 SITE OF BEND CITY - Bend City, a population center in the middle 1860s, was designated as the seat of Coso County, but the county was never formed. It was here that the first county bridge across Owens River was constructed. The 1872 earthquake changed the course of Owens River, so the site of Bend City was near an empty ravine instead of on a river bank.
Location: On Mazourka Canyon Rd, 4.6 mi W of Independence

NO. 211 MAYFIELD CANYON BATTLEGROUND - On April 8, 1862, a body of troopers and settlers entered Mayfield Canyon (named for one of the settlers) to fight the Indians supposed to be there. However, the Indians had evacuated the canyon so the group made camp at its mouth. The next day they went up the canyon again, but this time they were forced to retreat to Owens Valley.
Location: Mayfield Canyon, 0.2 mi N of Farmer Wells Meadow Ranger Station, 1.5 mi NW from intersection of Pine Creek Rd and North Round Valley Rd, then 1.5 mi N on Ranger Station Rd to site, 15 mi NW of Bishop

NO. 223 SITE OF PUTNAM'S CABIN - In August 1861, Charles Putnam built the first cabin for permanent habitation in what is now Inyo County. The building, located 130 feet west of this site, served as a home, trading post, hospital, and 'fort' for early settlers, as well as a survival point for travelers. It became the center of the settlement of 'Putnam's' which five years later took the name 'Independence.'
Location: 139 Edwards St (Hwy 395), Independence

NO. 230 FIRST PERMANENT WHITE HABITATION IN OWENS VALLEY - In August of 1861, A. Van Fleet and three other men drove their cattle into Owens Valley and prepared to stay. A cabin of sod and stone was built at the big bend of the Owens River at the northern end of the valley.
Location: At intersection of State Hwy 6 (P.M.. 3.9) and Silver Canyon Rd, 4 mi NE of Bishop

NO. 441 BURNED WAGONS POINT - Near this monument, the Jayhawker group of Death Valley '49ers, gold seekers from the Middle West who entered Death Valley in 1849 seeking a short route to the mines of central California, burned their wagons, dried the meat of some oxen and, with surviving animals, struggled westward on foot.
Location: Death Valley National Monument, 100 ft S of State Hwy 190 (P.M. 85.9), Stovepipe Wells

NO. 442 DEATH VALLEY GATEWAY - Through this natural gateway the Death Valley '49ers, more than 100 emigrants from the Middle West seeking a shortcut to gold fields of central California, entered Death Valley in December 1849. All suffered from thirst and starvation. Seeking an escape from the region, two contingents went southwest from here, while the others proceeded northwest.
Location: Death Valley National Monument, on State Hwy 190 (P.M. 111.8), 1.3 mi SE of Furnace Creek

NO. 443 VALLEY WELLS - In this area, several groups of midwestern emigrants who had escaped from hazards and privations in Death Valley in 1849 sought to secure water from Searles Lake. They turned northward and westward in despair when they discovered its salty nature, and with great difficulty crossed the Argus and other mountains to reach settlements of Central and Southern California.
Location: Trona Wildrose Rd at Valley Wells Rd, 5.5 mi NE of Trona

NO. 444 BENNETT-ARCANE LONG CAMP - Near this spot the Bennett-Arcane contingent of the Death Valley '49ers, emigrants from the Middle West seeking a shortcut to California gold fields, were stranded for a month and almost perished from starvation. William Lewis Manley and John Rogers, young members of the party, made a heroic journey on foot to San Fernando and, returning with supplies, led the party to the safety of San Francisquito Rancho near Newhall.
Location: Death Valley National Monument from State Hwy 190 (P.M. 111.8), go approx 16 mi S of intersection of Badwater Rd and Westside Rd, on Westside Rd

NO. 537 COTTONWOOD CHARCOAL KILNS - In June 1873, on Cottonwood Creek directly west of this spot, Colonel Sherman Stevens built a sawmill and a flume that connected with the Los Angeles bullion road. The lumber was used for timbering in the mine and for buildings - the wood turned into charcoal in the kilns was hauled to Steven's Wharf on Owens Lake, where it was put on the steamer The Bessie Brady, and hauled across the lake. From there wagons took it up to Cerro Gordo Mine. Since all the wood available around the Cerro Gordo had been burned, this charcoal was necessary to continue production.
Location: 1.0 mi E of State Hwy 395 (P.M. 44.5), 70 mi N of Cartago

NO. 796 FARLEY'S OLANCHA MILL SITE - In 1860, while working for the Silver Mountain Mining Company in the Coso Mountains, M. H. Farley conceived the idea of building a processing mill on a creek that flowed into Owens Lake. He explored and named Olancha Pass that year, and by December of 1862 had completed the first mill and furnace in the Owens River Valley, on Olancha Creek about one mile west of this marker.
Location: On State Hwy 395 (P.M. 34.1), at Fall Rd, 0.6 mi S of Olancha

NO. 811 BISHOP CREEK BATTLEGROUND - On April 6, 1862, a battle took place around this site between newly arrived citizens of the Owens River Valley and the original inhabitants of the land, the Paiute and Shoshone Indians. The reason for this battle is lost but brave men on both sides died here for a cause which they held inviolate.
Location: SE corner of the intersection of State Hwy 168 (P.M. 13.0) and Bishop Creek Rd, 5.2 mi SW of Bishop

NO. 826 OLD STOVEPIPE WELLS - This waterhole, the only one in the sand dune area of Death Valley, was at the junction of the two Indian trails. During the bonanza days of Rhyolite and Skidoo, it was the only known water source on the cross-valley road. When sand obscured the spot, a length of stovepipe was inserted as a marker.
Location: Death Valley National Monument, from State Hwy 190 (P.M. 92.1) go N 2.8 mi on (unpaved) Sand Dunes Access Rd, 6.1 mi E of Stovepipe Wells

NO. 848 EICHBAUM TOLL ROAD - In 1926, H. W. Eichbaum obtained a franchise for a toll road from Darwin Falls to Stovepipe Wells, the first maintained road into Death Valley from the west. It changed the area's economic base from mining to tourism and brought about the creation of Death Valley National Monument seven years later.
Location: Death Valley National Monument, 100 ft S of State Hwy 190 (P.M. 85.83), Stovepipe Wells

NO. 953 LAWS NARROW GAUGE RAILROAD STATION AND YARD - In 1883, the Carson & Colorado Railroad was built between Mound House (near Carson City, Nevada) through Laws to Keeler, California, a distance of 300 miles. Laws Station was named in honor of Mr. R. J. Laws, Assistant Superintendent of the railroad. Between 1883 and about 1915, this railroad provided the only dependable means of transportation in and out of Owens Valley. Train service was stopped on April 30, 1960.
Location: On Silver Canyon Rd (Inyo County Rd), on old town of Laws, 4 mi NE of Bishop
 

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