Johnny Lang first saw Lost Horse Valley in 1890, when he and his father dove a herd of cattle into the area and set up camp. One morning, they awoke to find their horses gone. Johnny tracked them to the McHaney brothers’ (local cattle rustlers) camp. The McHaneys informed Johnny the horses weren’t there and he’d better leave the area. Some time later, Johnny met up with a man named “Dutch” Frank. Now Dutch had a rich mining claim, but was afraid to work it because of the McHaney boys. So he sold the claim to Johnny and his father for $1,000 and they named it the Lost Horse mine.
Johnny’s story, and that of the Lost Horse Mine, is a fascinating tale. Click here to read more about them on the Joshua Tree National Park website.
How did Johnny end up buried here, near the road that leads to the Lost Horse mine? Well, he had taken up residence in the old cookhouse of the inactive Lost Horse mine. In the winter of 1925, he set out to walk to town for supplies, but being sickly he died of exposure along Keys View Road. Bill Keys found his body two months later and buried him where he lay.
An interesting side-note: Grave robbers struck in the dark of night in 1983. They dug up Johnny’s grave and made off with pieces of his remains, his skull included. They were never apprehended.