The Three Towns Named Dale.

Once upon a time in a land of heat, rattlesnakes, scorpions, and gold, there were three towns named Dale.

In 1884, the first of the Dales sprung up fifteen miles east of Twentynine Palms along the Dale Dry Lake. When word of the gold strike at the Virginia Dale Mine in the Pinto Mountains reached the town of Twentynine Palms, every miner in the region flooded the Pintos in search of their own strike. The town of Dale was direct result of this, and being a known good watering hole it briefly became the center of commerce for what was about to be become a very busy mining district.

Today it is hard to image a time when a fledgling little town once stood near the corner of Gold Crown Road and Highway 62. It is easy to fly by the original Dale town site without noticing the concrete foundation ruins of the pump house or the original Twentynine Palms 5-stamp mill that was relocated to here in 1896. A short distance from the highway are the ruins of an arrastra, a primitive mill that was likely built before the installation of the 5-stamp mill. The arrastra has seen better days, the concrete is cracking, it is filled with a thick layer of sand, and the wood frame above it has fallen and deteriorated. Those that look closely may still find some of the scattered lumber peeking up out of the sand.

 

A large concrete foundation, possibly the mine office building.

A large concrete foundation, possibly the mine office building.

 

Pump house at the original Dale in 1941.

Pump house at the original Dale in 1941.

 

What remains of the arrastra at the original Dale town site.

What remains of the arrastra at the original Dale town site.

 

Gone is the whore house, the saloon, general store, blacksmith shop, assayer’s office, and the small desert cabins that once made up the town. All in all, it is safe to say that the original Dale is for the most part a memory in the fiercely blowing winds of Wonder Valley.

What killed the original Dale were several strikes further south in the range. The largest mine in the Dale Mining District became the Supply Mine, located seven miles southeast over difficult terrain. Additional sizeable mines in the area included the Brooklyn, OK, and Gold Crown. It only made sense to move the town closer to where the people were, and that is exactly what they did.

Water was piped in from the original Dale well, and many of the original structures were moved across the desert to the new town plot. New Dale was placed in an area with incredibly hostile terrain. Despite the setting, New Dale was a hit. Several businesses opened in the town, including a post office, and a saloon that doubled as a hotel. Stages came and went from New Dale to Amboy and Banning.

 

What remains of the second Dale town site.

What remains of the second Dale town site.

 

What remains of the second Dale town site.

What remains of the second Dale town site.

 

All of the area mines except for the Brooklyn Mine had closed by 1909, and New Dale was close to abandoned. Forty-one  people remained in town, and all that remained open for business was the The Shamrock and Dale Saloons, the post office, and a lonely little one room whore house on the hill. In 1910, Dale was declared dead.

Finding the location of New Dale can be a bit tricky, the structures that once stood at New Dale were scrapped in the 1920’s and 1930’s by area miners for use at their mining claims. The ruins that do remain are so scarce that they blend in well with their surrounding. The lone grave of the saloon keeper’s child, Carl P. McCabe, several root cellars, and a scattered array of rusty cans are all that are left.

 

The ruins of the Saloon at the third Dale.

The ruins of the Saloon at the third Dale.

 

Concrete block building at the third Dale.

Concrete block building at the third Dale.

 

In 1915, Dale was given its third chance to shine when the  United Greenwater Corporation leased the Supply and OK Mines. The company moved the Dale post office four miles up the hill to the Supply Mine, but the third Dale was again short-lived, surviving for less than a year, as the mines closed as quickly as they had opened.

Of the three town sites, the third Dale contains the most significant structural ruins, the crumbling walls of the saloon and Post Office.

 

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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