First Land Patent at Rock Springs

By Dean Greenwalt (with grateful acknowledgement to H.F.Goldbrandsen for his interview with Mark Law).

The Homestead Act of 1862 promised ownership of as much as 160 acres of contiguous public land to a citizen or head of a family who resided on and cultivated the land for five years after the initial claim. Area pioneer Mark Law was the first to successfully patent a homestead claim in Arrastre Canyon/Juniper Flats.

Mark Law was born September 12, 1879 in Shullsburg, Lafayette County, Wisconsin. In 1906 at the age of 26, he relocated to this region and took a job at the Sidewinder Mill as a gasoline engine repairman. When that mill closed in 1909, he was employed by Tom Stuart rebuilding a saw mill in Holcomb Valley. In 1911, he homesteaded 160 acres on Rock Springs Creek on the Van Dusen Road. Law’s claim included an earthen dam used to water mule teams facing the arduous climb up the Coxey Trail.

Homesteaders were required to have two neighbors or friends vouch for their statements regarding improvements. Doubtless, neighbors Albert W. Miller (further down Rock Springs Creek) and James F. Monaghan (in Arrastre Canyon) vouched for Mr. Law. The initial patent for 120 acres was granted July 8, 1919, and an additional 40 acres was patented on November 27, 1925. Mr. Law’s improvements included two cabins, a shop, chicken house, root cellar, hand-dug well, stonework and a large stock tank. Having walls of stone, poured concrete and large tin cans, the barn was thought to predate other improvements. All roofs were of heavy gauge corrugated steel. Two pipelines were built to springs in the canyons above the ranch. Overflow from their reservoirs went to the stock tank and on to the garden. His trellised garden included grapes, apples, olives and pomegranates.

Former neighbor Olive Bowen Corrrington recalls that Law lived quietly and kept his ranch “neat as a pin” . The extended road to Bowen Ranch followed an old Native American path after making ta sharp right turn at Law’s ranch. In those days, Rock Springs Creek flowed all year. Occasionally, on returning from classes, the Bowen children were forced to either wade the creek or spend the night at Monaghan’s ranch in Arrastre Canyon.

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In 1918 the Kelly Filter Press Co. of Salt Lake opened the Old Rose Mine, where Law worked repairing and operating the steam engines and hoist. In his later years, he worked for Cliff Moon as a printer on the News Herald. In 1945, he sold his ranch to Joe Gutierrez, moving to Victorville where he lived at 15590 Sixth St. Mark Law died October 18, 1966 at the age of 87. Sadly in 1999 the Willow Fire destroyed his original homestead buildings as flames swept through Rock Springs Ranch. Mark Law’s water system continues to flow cool spring water to the ranch reservoirs, stock tank and garden.

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Dean and Bandit

This story was written by Dean Greenwalt for the Friends of Juniper Flats Newsletter Fall 2006. It was a huge loss when Dean was killed by a driver involved in a high-speed chase in 2009. Dean was the previous owner of Rock Springs Ranch and although he lived in the city he spent much of his time on the ranch. He also spent time researching the history of the area’s various ranches. We will be reprinting those stories here. Olive Bowen was a member of Friends of Juniper Flats in the early 2000s, but since Dean’s passing we have lost contact.

Stay tuned! Hit the “follow” button to receive updates in your email box.

 

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