If you're like me, and you've driven between Phoenix and Los Angeles more times than you can count, you know that there is a particular stretch of desert is which is the most mind-numbingly boring stretch of road imaginable. It's between Indio and Blythe. And if you're a time-traveler like me, you have always stopped at Desert Center, which is halfway between those two places.
I like to stop there on Ragsdale Road, which was the original highway before the freeway was built, and try to imagine what it was like. Yeah, it must have been pretty miserable - dusty and hot. The modern freeways may be dull, but they're safe, and as my car glides along I-10 with the A/C on, while I'm listening to my iPod, I hardly know that I'm in the desert.
Anyway, I found an ad in Desert Magazine from 1939 which had a picture of "Desert Steve" Ragsdale. He seems to have had a good sense of humor, as he describes Main Street as 100 miles long (you know, from Indio to Blythe).
As far as I can tell, there really never was a lot there. Well, more than now, anyway. There was, and is, a landing strip nearby. And of course there was a place to eat and get gas. Looks like there was a swimming pool, and showers. It must have felt nice to rinse the dust away! I'm guessing that the cabins were pretty cozy. Many of them are still out there, falling apart, among the palm trees which have fallen down. When those palm trees were standing, they must have provided a lot of much-appreciated shade!
I've been paging through the Desert Magazine, and have enjoyed traveling across the desert, in my imagination, in the 1930s. I doubt whether I would have liked it in "in real life" - I'm so used to the comforts of the 21st Century, but it's nice to visit.
|At Desert Center in 2013|
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