November 11, 2013
Robber's Roost Country
Joe lived on 40 acres that featured one of the rare sources of water. He also had grazing access hundreds of acres of surrounding federal lands. Before the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 and subsequent creation of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), there was very little regulation, which resulted in a lot of overgrazing. Over the years several other ranching families moved into the area and also ran horses, sheep, and cattle. The Robbers Roost outlaws, who had used the canyons as a hideout in the late 1800's and early 1900's, got old and tired of hiding out. If they'd managed to avoid prison and/or acute lead poisoning, they retired to more socially acceptable professions or moved elsewhere. With more roads making the land accessible to lawmen, young folk tended to find work that was better for their long term health than the old, previously admired, bank-robbing and horse-thieving trades.
Joe's daughter, Peal Biddlecome Baker, took over the ranch after Joe's death from a tonsillectomy. (Tonsillar abscesses had plagued him for years. He thought one more episode could kill him, so he finally tried surgery -- maybe not such a good decision, as it turned out.) Pearl wrote a book about her years on the ranch, Robbers Roost Recollections.
We rode toward Angel Point (the start of an old horsethief trail across the Dirty Devil) along an old road, and later a ghost road, enjoying the old west scenery.
The night sky in that desert land is as star-bright as in ancient times, with no cities close enough to taint the darkness with artificial light. Venus was high and bright in the hours after sunset. The Pleides and Orion were clearly outlined after midnight. The Milky Way dusted an arc across the sky, and shooting stars shone in a brief trail of glory.
No photos, so you'll just have to use your imagination.