History of the Mojave Desert

Topics: Mojave Desert, Mojave National Preserve, Death Valley Pages: 6 (2119 words) Published: April 7, 2007
The History of the Mojave desert

What does the name “Mojave” mean?
The Mojaves were a small North American Indian tribe that lived in the same area as what’s now called the Mojave desert. They spoke a Yuman dialect and were friends with all the other Indian groups on that land. The other native tribes in the Mojave were called Piutes and Chemehuevi. They didn’t have a formal government . They had common Indian rituals and beliefs. An example is that they believed that dreams were meaningful to one’s life. When a Mojave Indian would die, the tribe would cremate that body and burn all of his or her’s property. There are now approximately 2,000 Mojave Indians remaining in the Colorado River Reservation.

What is a desert?
It’s not necessary for a place to be extremely hot to be considered a desert. The frozen arctic is also officially a desert. Desert land must have an average of ten inches of rain or less per year. There are additional minor details but for the most part if a part of land gets less than 10 inches of precipitation, whether it be rain or snow, it’s called a desert. Deserts similar to valley and mountain areas will have a drastic change in temperature from day to night. The temperature lows on summer mornings may be 70 degrees but quickly jump to 110 degrees in a matter of eight hours. This is due to the desert soil being able to absorb the solar radiation from the sun. There isn’t any humidity or vegetation to deflect the sun’s rays away from just the soil. Then during the night, the heat which has been collected during the day is released and re-radiated back to the sky.

The mountains surrounding the Mojave are the San Gabriel, Techachapi, San Bernardino, and San Jacinto ranges. These mountains cause the desert to become dry. A seabreeze carries moisture from the Pacific Ocean inland. But it’s not able to get past those tall mountains. Therefore, places west of the mountains stay mild and damp whereas anything east of the mountains is kept hot and dry. The mountains also play another factor in the Mojave desert’s climate. They cause the daily afternoon winds in the Mojave. Air movement causes many duststorms which can sometimes turn serious and leave a huge mess.

General Information about the desert
Many people may think that the two most popular California desert cities, Death Valley and Palm Springs, are part of the Mojave desert. But surprisingly that’s not the case. They’re located very close to the outskirts of the Mojave but not officially in that desert. The largest city that’s in the Mojave is called Kelso. It was made popular in 1906 because it was close to the railroad that connected the large cities of Los Angeles, California and Salt Lake City, Utah. (3) Kelso is one of the few places in the desert that’s accessible to clean water sources. So it became a stopping point. 100 years later and it’s still a popular desert spot. Kelso also has the Kelso Dunes. It’s 45 miles of sand dunes; which makes them the most extensive dune field in the western United States. Some of those dunes have a height that exceeds 700 feet. The only freeway that runs through the desert is Interstate 40, which runs all the way through Arizona. The freeway that’s most used by Southern Californian’s to get to Nevada is Interstate 15, which passes just north of the Mojave Desert’s border. The Mojave is very close to the other three North American deserts. Which are the Great Basin, the Sonoran, and the Chihuahuan.

Clark Mountain is the tallest peak in the Mojave desert. It stands at nearly 8,000 feet. It’s one of the few places in the desert that is covered with fabulous white fir trees. Archeologists are constantly studying this mountain because they continue to find artifacts. The problem with getting anywhere on this mountain is that it’s for experienced hikers because of its rocks. Clark Mountain has given miners over four million dollars worth of silver, copper, and gold. Even now mining goes on...
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