by Dean Greenwalt
Juniper Flats/Arrastre Canyon offered a last opportunity to take ownership under the Homestead Act of 1862. After Mark Law’s first patent on upper Rock Springs on July 8, 1919, James F. Monaghan followed with his patent for 312 acres in Arrastre Canyon on October 7, 1919. (He later patented an additional 315 acres in 1938.)
Monaghan’s 628 acre ranch extended from later established Paradise Ranch to the “Big Hill”. The buildings were located on Rock Springs Rd. (the 1861 Van Dusen Rd.). The Big Hill is now known as Dead Man’s Curve and the road as Bowen Ranch Rd.
Joseph Franklin Nation (as interviewed in 2001 by local historian Richard D. Thompson) relates that he staged out of Monaghan Ranch in 1934 while prospecting 5 miles up into Arrastre Canyon:
“Monaghan was an elderly fellow. He came out and homesteaded several acres and built a barn and a couple of small houses and his dream was to establish or build a resort . He never did get any financial backing to do it but that was his dream. He was also quite a horseman, and he had dreamed of raising race horses in the area. Jimmy used to get his water out of Arrastre Canyon. He ran a 2 inch pipe line probably a half mile from a spring up into Arrastre Canyon and down into his home and he had nice clear running water which, what people were out in the desert, came there to get their water.
Monaghan is affectionately remembered by Gertie Bowen in her book “Bowen Escapades”:
“Bless our good neighbor, Jimmy. He was an ex-jockey who had love in his heart and knew how to express it. You might say he had a heart of gold. He had arthritis very badly in his feet and toes, which caused the tips of his shoes to curl up. My eldest daughter, Wahnita, always referred to him as “the little man with the turned-up toes.” He lived all alone but he had many friends who came to see him. They were mostly old bachelors who would each bring him a bottle of whiskey. If many people were present, he would go out and bury the loot to keep the others from consuming it.”
Frank Nation: “Anyhow Jimmy finally passed away, in I don’t know what year, and little by little the ranch became demolished. I guess people needed the firewood out in the desert somewhere but it no longer exists. There is not a building there of any kind.”
Dorothy Blankenship recalls that following Monaghan’s death, two women (one a teacher) briefly ran the ranch as a home for problem children and kept the place “spotless”. Unfortunately, ownership soon passed to absentee real estate speculators. Now all that remains are the huge locust trees, giant arundos and a forlorn slab of white concrete standing a short way east of Bowen Ranch Rd.
“Jimmy” Monaghan (Nov. 4, 1870-June 10, 1948) was short in stature but grand in spirit. His heart of gold was the real treasure of Arrastre Canyon.
This story was written by Dean Greenwalt for the Friends of Juniper Flats Newsletter Winter 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.
Note: Paradise Ranch has since changed hands and is now called Arrastre Canyon Ranch.
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