How a South Pasadena matron used her wits and wealth to create Joshua Tree National Park

Nobody looks at the mural. Tourists keep their heads down as they walk past. They scan maps, reach for keys, tell their children to use the bathroom. Considering possible destinations, they say, “Did you want to do Hidden Valley and Keys Ranch?” Or, “We can start at Skull Rock.”

They don’t notice the image of a gray-haired woman in a wide-brimmed hat staring out at them. Serene. Determined.

To her right loom stark rock formations and groves of surreal Joshua trees. Flowers bloom at her feet in bright purples and oranges. Look closely and you’ll see a pair of pencil-legged Gambel’s quail and a roadrunner enjoying the desert Eden she nearly single-handedly preserved.

The mural at a federal visitors center is a tribute to the South Pasadena matron who devoted much of her life to saving nearly 1 million acres of desert that would one day become Joshua Tree National Park.

In California lore, the story of how John Muir persuaded Teddy Roosevelt to help preserve Yosemite is legendary. In 1903, Muir and Roosevelt camped in the wilderness for three days as Muir showed him Yosemite’s stunning vistas and valleys. Decades later, Minerva Hoyt would convince another president named Roosevelt that Joshua Tree held its own otherworldly beauty. Her story isn’t as well known as Muir’s. But it should be.

Read it here…


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