* Temporarily closed to the public due to COVID-19 *
The specific purpose of this nonprofit corporation is to collect, conserve and exhibit artifacts; to collect, display, interpret and publish memorabilia relating to the history of the Morongo Basin; to locate identify and preserve historic sites; to promote the research and study of local history and to share the rich heritage of the Morongo Basin with all the communities within and surrounding it.
We preserve history and make it too!
In 1990, Delta Kappa Gamma local members, hoping to create interest in local history, recorded and videotaped nine oral interviews with important area people for a school project. All agreed that the videos would be donated to a Basin historical society if one were ever organized.
It took more than eight years for such an organization to come into being. During this time, Joan Wilson, a Morongo Basin historian and author of six volumes of local history, got her friend Ruth Long interested in local history, and the two often talked about the need for an historical society. Others also saw such a need, including the Hi-Desert Star that in 1994, on the Opinion page,expressed the view that Yucca Valley needed an historical society in order to preserve history for future generations.
By 1998, Joan Wilson had become very ill. Historic Warren’s Well had fallen into disrepair. The final straw came when the 100-year old golden mesquite tree behind Warren’s Well was cut down. That did it! Four Yucca Valley women met to make plans to form a historic society: Helen Dotts, Bernice Falltrick, Ruth Long, and Betty Bilyeu. They planned a public meeting to determine community interest and support.
On September 12, 1998, a large number of people attended the meeting! A steering committee was chosen: Paul Cook (Congressman), Carole Kester, Helen Dotts, Sandy Williams, Bernice Falltrick, Ruth Long and Harvey Legrone. One week later, Joan Wilson died, knowing that her dream would soon be a reality.
In February 1999, the Morongo Basin Historical Society was chartered. Its first elected officers were chosen, and a Society logo, designed by Betty Warner, was adopted: its design a windmill and cattle-watering trough representing Warren’s Well.
The rest is history! For the first ten years of its life the society did not have a permanent home. Meetings and events were held at various locations in the town of Yucca Valley. Nevertheless, the Morongo Basin Historical Society became an important part of the community.
In 2007, Vernette Landers, widow of Newlin Landers, who helped form the community of Landers in 1950, bequeathed their home to the Morongo Basin Historical Society. The following year, in 2008, the society moved into their new permanent headquarters at 632 Landers Lane in Landers.
Located in a historic homestead community, it was named the Museum & Research Center and visiting hours were established. With the help of members, volunteers and the community, the society was able to transform the property, set up extensive research files, and create are pository for artifacts and memorabilia relating to Morongo Basin history.
Some of the society’s accomplishments in just a few short years include the cataloging and filing of Joan Wilson’s donated collection, preservation of Warren’s Well, dedication of Landers’ original post office as a state historical site, publishing a revised edition of Martha Coutant’s Heart Bar Ranch and Johnson Valley Neighbors, and the collection of historically significant printed materials and artifacts. In addition, together with the Twentynine Palms Historical Society and Hi-Desert Star, the Morongo Basin Historical wrote and published a 100-yearhistory of the Morongo Basin.
Since its founding, the Morongo Basin Historical Society has grown into a vital force, thanks to thousands of volunteer hours yearly and the support of individual, family, organization and business members.