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Early history of Ridgecrest to be featured at HSUMD Oct. 17

Historical Society of the Upper Mojave Desert (HSUMD)

At the October meeting of the Historical Society of the Upper Mojave Desert, an outline of Ridgecrest’s early history, from its beginning as a tiny agricultural village to its becoming Kern County’s tenth incorporated city, will be featured. The meeting takes place at the Historic USO Building, 230 W. Ridgecrest Blvd. on Tuesday, October 17 at 7 pm. The presentation will be given by Tex Hoppus, long-time HSUMD member and immediate past president, based on his recent series of articles in their newsletter.

Settlement of the area was spurred by the nearby work on the Los Angeles Aqueduct between 1908 and 1914, and by the mining in the Searles Valley, which also began to flourish about the same time. These two forces created a local market for alfalfa, fresh fruits and vegetables, meat and dairy products.  An early homesteading family, the Robertsons, owned a farm and dairy, which eventually grew to become the bedroom community of Trona called “Crumville.“ This was purchased by Joe Fox, who helped grow the small village into a city named Ridgecrest.

Seeing the need to provide services for a growing community, Joe Fox encouraged his friend Bill Bentham of North Hollywood to build a grocery store. In the late 30s, Bentham built the first grocery store and gas station for the community, which consisted of about 15 homes. This store was located where the Bank of America resides now.

This city, which began life as an agricultural settlement, grew into the multifaceted community we know today. Hoppus will relate that history and the further development of Ridgecrest until its incorporation in 1963. Come to the meeting and enjoy the city’s colorful history.

These monthly meetings, held on the third Tuesday, are free and open to the general public.