Glimpse: SBC’s First Independence Day Celebration

By Ruth Musser-Lopez
One year ago, on Independence Day, I was writing the article for the Sentinel’s very first “Glimpse of San Bernardino’s Past” column and snapped a couple of shots of my mother, Hope Musser, all dressed up for the occasion and praying hardily for the state of the Union in 2013. She was also praying for me and the new Glimpse column—blessing it, that it might be used to bring understanding of our past to work for the good of the future.
The first column was to be published the day after the Fourth of July. So I saved for this year a history I found about the 4th of July in San Bernardino County. The following excerpt from the History of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties by Brown and Boyd, 1922, was published by the Western Historical Association:
“The honor of first raising the American flag over the soil of San Bernardino is claimed by Daniel Sexton, who states that while cutting timber in the San Gorgonio Pass for Colonel Williams, in 1842, in answer to a query by Native Americans regarding Americans’ feast days, he made an American flag and celebrated the Fourth of July, 1842.
“The first authentic celebration of Independence Day in the County occurred in 1853 when John Brown, Sr., went to Fort Tejon to secure a flag and was presented with a large bunting emblem by L. A. Bishop. On his return this was secured to a liberty pole brought from the mountains, speeches were made from a raised platform, and a twelve-pounder, brought from Los Angeles, was fired.”
July 4, 2013 is the birthday of this column, Glimpse of San Bernardino’s Past. The first story was published on July 5—with all the global warming, it was hotter than fireworks and so I kept thinking about going swimming. Instead, I wrote about historic swim plunges.
The “Glimpse” was not initially intended to be “political” or as a current event story. It was supposed to be an apolitical feature article, something fun to break from Mark Gutglueck’s depressing county corruption news. But, as it turned out, that first story did report news just as a consequence of me going down to Chaffey High’s swim plunge to snap some photos of that wonderful place I swam in as a child. It got hot back then too, but apparently still a couple of degrees cooler on the average than it was last summer. When I got to the plunge last year, it was being rehabilitated with public funds, a good thing, and news worthy.
Alas, the program which was such a wonderful one for which I have tremendous nostalgic sentiment, has yet to be revivied.
It has now been one year since I began writing the historic places column for the Sentinel and it has become more and more obvious to me that history and politics pretty much go hand in hand. With few exceptions, there is typically something political associated with important historic places. Perhaps it’s a consequence of physical “place” being limited and through time the demands and pressure on “important physical places” like watering holes in the desert, makes some places by their very nature, political hot spots.
Or maybe it’s just me – or the “universe” that just naturally calls or gravitates me toward politically charged cultural hot spots.
Whatever the case may be, its obvious that the direction of the Glimpse is going to change with my new perspective and role as “candidate” for the new California Senate District 16 that extends roughly speaking, from Bakersfield to the Colorado River, crossing the northern half of San Bernardino County including most of its Mojave Desert area.
Beefing up my knowledge of historic legislation would be a plus for my campaign…so looking at the impact upon San Bernardino from a current perspective of the historic decisions made by the State of California’s legislature, is one of the new approaches to the Glimpse column that I will be taking.
One of the stories that I am currently attempting to obtain information about is historic school district taxation and appropriation. So, if any readers can direct me to unconventional sources of information on that topic, I would appreciate it. I recall “‘old timers” here in Needles complaining that our own school district was very well to do at one point prior to the 1980s because the tax on railroad land went to the school district that the railroad land was in. Since there is a lot of railroad land in the Needles School District, the district was apparently well-heeled attracting the best teachers at that time.
Recalling how good it was in the past, these seniors complained that the law had been wrongly changed. There has since been a redistribution of tax funds on railroad property and the school district coming out on the short end. If elected, I’d like to direct attention to research on what we can do legislatively to turn around our loss and get funding back to our poorly equipped desert schools and our now lost desert courts.
A staff could help to turn legislative history around to our favor and this column could potentially be used to report back home what is transpiring in our state capital with regard to historic legislation and how it could be improved. This is one archaeologist who wants Sacramento to throw the Desert more than just an old bone.
In retrospect, writing a story every week (with one or two exceptions) has been intense, thought provoking and challenging. It requires discipline, particularly keeping up with the “filing” end on my computer with all of the downloads of history research and uploads of new photographs of old things.
This week, I need to get organized…so, I am going to give myself an independence day break from research and simply list all of the stories that I wrote during the past year: You will note that I delivered a column in 47 out of 52 straight weeks, missing only the July 26, August 23, November 1, and April 11 issues.

A Compendium of the “Glimpse”
1) July 5, 2013.       Historic Swim Plunges of San Bernardino County.
2) July 12, 2013.     Historic SBC Swimming Pools: Mansker’s Prohibition Era Plunge.
3) July 19, 2013.     Needles’ Mystic Maze: Questions Over Validity Now Complicated by Contamination.
4) August 2, 2013. Mystic Maze: Part II. A continuation of the July 19, 2013 story.
5) August 9, 2013.   The Historic Arizona & California Railroad
6) August 16, 2013. Part II Arizona & California Railroad Sidings: Chubbuck—A Lesson in Desert Survival.   A look at the historic railroad sidings straddling the AZ&CA Railroad right-of-way on public land which would be impacted by the Cadiz desert water drainage project…these sites should be subject to federal review but the Department of the Interior is staying mum.
7) August 30, 2013. Flood Fatalities A Reality in SBC’s Past and Present. Notable San Bernardino County floods.
8) September 6, 2013. Historic Heroics during SBC Floods. Notable flood events and how heroism saves the day.
9) September 13, 2013. A Couple of Old Cows Come Home. Two “old cows” show up in San Bernardino County after years of being resolved as “dead” or “missing.” Also historic structures that are no more–Marquette Hotel and Shady Grove Dairy east of Grove, between 6th and 7th Street in Ontario, formerly Upland.
10) September 20, 2013. The Destruction of the Oasis of Mara. Road construction without a effort to save important prehistoric Native American village area remains from the path of bulldozers? Are city officials at fault of violating CEQA?
11) September 27, 2013. Preserving Celebrity Past: The James Cagney Place. A seemingly forgotten Twentynine Palms area former home of by-gone celebrity and what can be done to preserve it.
12) October 4, 2013. Ghost Towns & Pioneer Towns: Use or Lose. Calico and Pioneer Town are examples of how an entrepreneur can take “theme” to the bank and that profiteering off of historic properties can also be beneficial to historic preservation.
13) October 11, 2013. Old Railroad Gems: Restoration and Reuse. Historic Barstow, San Bernardino, Needles, Redlands and Etiwanda railroad depots have been or are being restored and reused for purposes other than as a depot.
14) October 18, 2013. Old Railroad Gems: Restoration and Reuse (Part II). A story continued from the previous week. The opportunities for converting historic structures to modern uses are only limited by one’s imagination.
15) October 25, 2013. SBC’s Haunted Historic Habitats. These properties are just for starters…wait until you see the amended list coming up this fall. Contact to get your haunt and story listed.
16) November 8, 2013. Prehistoric Art of San Bernardino County. Rock Art is found all over the world and we have an abundance of stylish prehistoric artwork in the SBC. By the way, the American Rock Art Research Association will be in the Needles area of San Bernardino County next year, July 2015, for their annual meeting and to see our prehistoric art.   Prehistoric art attracts visitors from around the world and brings tourism dollars here.

17) November 15, 2013. Thanksgiving: Sometimes Friendly, Sometimes Deadly. American history in elementary schools often leaves out the devastating deadly conflict that existed between Euro Americans and Native Americans after the first blush of contact.
18) November 22, 2013. Thanks for Food from Native San Bernardino County. Put some Native American food on your Thanksgiving table this year.
19) November 29, 2013. Skiing the SBC 1930s Style: Claim Your Slope & Install Your Rope. Cool old pics from back in the day. Keep your tips up.
20) December 6, 2013. New Kicks on Route 66: the Mother Lode of the Mother Road. A corridor management plan to be prepared by the Bureau of Land Management in conjunction with the “California Historic Route 66 Association.”
21) December 13, 2013. Not Daggett? Dag-Nab-It! The land grab and ultimate frustration over not being the favored location of the railroad’s depot.
22) December 20, 2013. Historic Holiday Tradition: Christmas at SBC’s Indoor Shopping Malls.
23) December 27, 2013. New Year’s Resolution: End the Three Minute Rule. Restore Robert’s Rules of Order to local government.
24) January 3, 2014. Needles to Demolish Route 66’s Overland Hotel. The town is in desperate need of professional help in the form of a historic commission.
25) January 10, 2014. Etiwanda Celebrates SBC’s 100 Year Old “Red Car” Depot.
26) January 17, 2014. Live–The Stunning Metamorphoses of SBC’s Historic Movie Theatres. Upland, Needles, San Bernardino, Redlands and more…
27) January 24, 2014. The “Throw Away Society,” “Googie” Architecture and our last “Sambo’s.”
28) January 31, 2014. SBC’s Atomic Age: Googie, Doo Wop and Populuxe.
29) February 7, 2014. San Bernardino County Just Can’t Get Enough Googie.
30) February 14, 2014. The Beatles from Tall Trees in San Bernardino County. This article is dedicated to 50 years of Beatlemania in the SBC.
31) February 21, 2014. Get Back to Where You Once Belonged—in the SBC. Listing of historic places and museums in San Bernardino County.
32) February 28, 2014. Marmalade Mansions and Tangerine Skies. Victorian mansions in the SBC and more tribute to the Beatles and other English influence in our SBC.
33) March 7, 2014. A Share of the Kicks on Sexy Route 66 (Part I). An annotated listing of the roadside attractions along the historic Route 66.
34) March 14, 2014. “Then and Now” A Share of the Kicks on Route 66 (Part II). Annotated of roadside attractions along historic Route 66, continued from prior week.
35) March 21, 2014. RT66:A Large Shot of Steinbeck in Needles. Annotated listing of roadside attractions along historic Route 66 in the Needles area.
36) March 28, 2014. RT66:   A Large Injection of Unique in Needles.   Annotated listing of roadside attractions along historic Route 66 in the Needles area (continued from previous week).
37) April 4, 2014. Sunkist San Bernardino County. A symbol of San Bernardino County’s past rises out from under the dust of destruction in Upland.
38) April 11, 2014. Virgil Earp, Town Marshall in Colton. By Mark Gutglueck.
39) May 2, 2014.   Thrill Ride: Historic Dips and Timber Trestle Bridges on SBC’s Route 66. Assessment of historic bridge safety on Route 66 in the works.
40) May 9, 2014.   From Corruption to Clovis to Calico–Who Makes SBC’s Past?
41) May 16, 2014. New Rest Stop Marks Eastern Gateway Segment of Historic RT 66
42) May 23, 2014. The Visitor Experience: What Should Route 66 Look Like?
43) May 30, 2014. The Rocks Begin to Memorialize—Bighorn Rock Art in the Mojave Desert.
44) June 6, 2014.   Sentinel Weaponry of our Prehistoric Past. Stone projectile points.
45) June 13, 2014. Our Historic San Bernardino County Fair.
46) June 20, 2014. Homemade: Our Prehistoric and Historic Arrowweed Homes.
47) June 27, 2014. The Doom of the Hidden River of Hinkley.
48) July 4, 2014.  SBC’s First Independence Day Celebration.

Leave a Reply