Twentynine Palms Historical Society
29 Palms, California


"What draws us into the desert is the search for something intimate in the remote." ~Edward Abbey

Old Schoolhouse Museum photo

The 2018 Twentynine Palms
Weed Show logoSM
will be held on Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 3 & 4.
This years theme is "COLORFUL CHARACTERS."

Weed Show Graphic
The show will be open for viewing on
Saturday (Nov. 3) Noon to 4:00 p.m. and
Sunday (Nov. 4) 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Click here for more about this event.

Click here for the 2018 categories and rules.


  The 2018-2019 Second Friday Lecture Series continues...
    Friday, November 9th at 7:00pm

   California-Arizona Maneuver Area (CAMA) and Airpower
    by Sid Burks, Historian

     In 1943 the Desert Training Center was expanded to 31,500 square miles and renamed the California - Arizona Maneuver Area (CAMA). Five additional divisional camps were included in the expansion and could house 15,000 men each. Learn about the super-secret "Gizmo" and what finally caused the CAMA to close down just two short years after the Desert Training Center was opened. Airpower played a big role in the training at the Desert Training Center. Patton, himself a pilot, was one of the few General Officers at that time that understood the potential of airpower. U.S. Army Air Force pilots and their aircraft not only helped to create a realistic training environment but they also learned how to support troops and armor in the desert.

     Sid Burks is a retired community college teacher and administrator and he currently teaches full-time for Cal State San Bernardino. He is a serious enthusiast of anything military, aviation, or desert history. He's given many lectures throughout the Coachella Valley on aviation and military history.

     Sponsored by the Desert Institute at Joshua Tree National Park and the Twentynine Palms Historical Society, this lecture is held at the Old Schoolhouse Museum, 6760 National Park Drive, Twentynine Palms, on Friday, November 9 at 7 pm. This lecture is open to the public and costs $5 per person at the door. Optional dinner with speaker at 5 pm at the 29 Palms Inn, reservations are limited and attendees are responsible for their own meal. If interested in dinner please RSVP to Patty Angel at 760-367-5535 before Wednesday, November 7.

  Click here for more information.
  Click here to download a flyer for this lecture.

Door opens at 6:15 and seating is limited, so arrive early. No standees permitted.


The Twentynine Palms Historical Society is pleased to announce the 2018 "Old Timer of the Year" honoree...

Don Bolster

Don Bolster

The Twentynine Palms Historical Society is pleased to announce its 2018 Old Timer of the Year honoree, Don Bolster.

Bolster is the youngest of three surviving children born to Ray and Billie Bolster. Ray came to this area around 1910 and worked with and for Bill Keys. In 1913, he homesteaded in Morongo Valley. He married Willie May Ware in 1924 and the pair honeymooned in Twentynine Palms.

Their boys, Walter and Richard (Dick), were born in Banning in 1927 and 1930, respectively. Baby brother Don was born on May 1, 1936, in Beaumont. After stints in Whitewater, Pasadena, Big Morongo Canyon and Etiwanda, the family moved back to Twentynine Palms permanently in 1944, and Ray Bolster became the community's first employed fireman. The family lived in the back of the fire station on Adobe Road until his retirement in 1958.

Don attended elementary school in the original schoolhouse here, and graduated from Twentynine Palms High School in 1954. After graduation, he attended college and enlisted in the Navy.

He created most of the artwork for the 1953 TPHS El Oasis yearbook and was editor of the 1954 El Oasis. In 2003, Don donated the 1953 El Oasis to the TwentyninePalms Historical Society. He returned numerous times to visit his parents and for class reunions. Every year for the last 18 years, Don has traveled from his home in Sugar Grove, N.C., to attend Pioneer Days, the Old Timers Reunion and the historical society's Old Timers Gathering. Don is the coordinator and driving force of the Old Timers Reunion, a weekend-long gathering of old schoolmates.

He is a longtime historical society member and has supported the organization with numerous donations of items, family genealogy, local historical information, participation in the society's 'Generations Project' and many remembrances of his childhood here.

He wrote the article, 'A pioneer son remembers 'way back when' in 29 Palms,' for the The Desert Trail's 2009 Pioneer Days edition, and has written several other articles for the newspaper and Old Schoolhouse Journal. He is the subject of George White's book, 'The Baseball Glove,' which is on display at the museum along with the glove. At the 2011 old timer's reunion he gave an excellent and moving speech at the 29 Palms Inn.

Among the many great experiences Don remembers growing up here as a carefree desert boy was helping to create the legendary and mystical Oh-bay-yo-yo in the Wonderland of Rocks above Indian Cove in what is now Joshua Tree National Park. The National Park Service dismantled the cave/cabin sometime in the late 1970s and the original Oh-Bay-yo-yo logbook, in typical roundabout desert fashion, was placed in Don's care. He still serves as its keeper and custodian.

'For his pioneer ties, contributions to recording area history and his continued support of the community and the Twentynine Palms Historical Society, we are proud to honor Don Bolster as our 2018 Old Timer of the Year,' said historical society vice president Greg Mendoza.

Don will be a guest of honor, along with Pioneer Days Grand Marshal Ann Congdon and Military Grand Marshal Kim Ortamond, at the Old Timers Gathering scheduled for 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20 at the museum, 6760 National Park Drive. Admission to the gathering is free, though donations are always accepted.

The "Old Timer of the Year" program was created to honor early or long-time residents who contributed significantly to the development or betterment of the Twentynine Palms' community. The program is intended to honor "everyday heroes" whose contributions and efforts over the years have largely gone unsung.

Everyone is welcome to come help us honor him during the 2018 Old Timers gathering at the Old Schoolhouse Museum on Saturday, October 20, 2018, 1:00 - 4:00 p.m.

The Old Schoolhouse Museum is located at 6760 National Park Drive in Twentynine Palms. Directions and more information is available on our web site


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