Daggett, CA

Daggett was founded in the 1860s as Calico Junction, and was renamed Daggett in honor of Lieutenant Governor of California, John Daggett in 1883. The name change also helped to avoid confusion with the nearby bustling mining community of Calico.

The Daggett-Calico Railroad was built in 1888 to haul ore from the mines of Calico to the Oro Grande Milling Company, located on the outskirts of Daggett. The railroad was short-lived, and was closed in 1892. Silver had played out in the Calicos.

The borax rush was on in 1888. Francis Marion “Borax” Smith acquired the Harmony and Meridian Borax Companies. He built a road and a narrow gauge railroad to the Calico Mountains from Daggett. By 1902, Daggett was supported by three borax mines. The town now had three stores, three saloons, two Chinese restaurants, a railroad, a drug store, a lumber yard, and a hotel.

 

Daggett, CA - Proud of the their Route 66 heritage.

Daggett, CA – Proud of the their Route 66 heritage.

 

Photograph of the desert supply station at Dagget before the railroad, showing D.E. Lott's transportation team arriving, San Bernardino, California, ca.1880. Two men and a woman stand posing on the right side of the station's porch while two other men sit in a horse-drawn wagon at center. Two large double-file ranks of mules stand to either side of the station, hitched to a train of three huge cargo wagons with a rider at left. Bales of hay are visible in the background. The ground is covered in small stones and low-growing vegetation.; Picture file card reads: "Mrs. Melvina la Pointe Lott, neice of Remi Nadeau was given a 20 mule freight team by Nadeau. The Lotts used the outfit to haul gold ore from the Oro Grande Mines in the Calico Mts. To Daggett."

Photograph of the desert supply station at Dagget before the railroad, showing D.E. Lott’s transportation team arriving, San Bernardino, California, ca.1880. Two men and a woman stand posing on the right side of the station’s porch while two other men sit in a horse-drawn wagon at center. Two large double-file ranks of mules stand to either side of the station, hitched to a train of three huge cargo wagons with a rider at left. Bales of hay are visible in the background. The ground is covered in small stones and low-growing vegetation.; Picture file card reads: “Mrs. Melvina la Pointe Lott, niece of Remi Nadeau was given a 20 mule freight team by Nadeau. The Lotts used the outfit to haul gold ore from the Oro Grande Mines in the Calico Mts. To Daggett.”

 

A number of original structures are still standing in Daggett today.

The Stone Hotel – Built around 1875 as a two-story building with a balcony. It survived three fires, the last in 1908 when the hotel was restored to the present one-story building.

Desert Market – The original store was destroyed in a fire in 1908. It was rebuilt using a railroad carload of cement. It was the first fire-proof structure in the Mojave Desert.

Alf’s Blacksmith Shop – Rebuilt in 1894 after a fire, Alf’s built Borax wagons, the original Death Valley-Mojave wagons. Alf’s home is located next to the shop, and the Alf’s family still calls it home to this day.

A short distance from the town sits the Daggett Pioneer Cemetery. Grave stones date back to the 1840s. Hundreds of graves, some marked, some not dot the desolate desert landscape.

 

Daggett, CA - The Daggett Pioneer Cemetery

Daggett, CA – The Daggett Pioneer Cemetery

 

Daggett, CA - The Daggett Pioneer Cemetery

Daggett, CA – The Daggett Pioneer Cemetery

 

Interested in visiting this site?

 

BOOK OPTION: Daggett is featured in Secret Places in the Mojave Desert Vol. III. Detailed maps, and GPS coordinates are included.  Order your copy now.

About the author

Jim Mattern

Jim is a scapegoat for the NPS, an author, adventurer, photographer, radio personality, guide, and location scout. His interests lie in Native American and cultural sites, ghost towns, mines, and natural wonders in the American Deserts.

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