Desert Queen Well

There's just something about finding an old windmill in the desert that makes me happy.

The Desert Queen Well is located along the same trail that will take you past the Wonderland Ranch, Worth Bagley's stone marker, and finally to the Wall Street Mill. The well sits on land that was located and developed by William Morgan sometime between 1905 and 1908. Morgan had hopes of erecting a mill on the site, but those plans never came to be.

There's no spring or flowing water here, what water was available had to be pumped from the 116-foot-deep well that was excavated in 1908. Morgan erected the windmill and brought in the water tank, which at one time sat upon a wood frame structure. He developed the site to use the water in connection with the Desert Queen Mine operation.

In addition to providing domestic water for the Desert Queen and surrounding gold mines, the well served as a public watering place for many years. C.O. Barker and Bill Keys used it for watering their livestock. It was an important spot in the desert.

The land containing the Desert Queen well came into Bill Keys' possession in 1917, but by 1924 it was in control of the Southern Pacific Land Company. That company later sold the parcel to Worth Bagley of Twentynine Palms, and the well was then sometimes referred to as the Bagley Well.

Getting to the Desert Queen Well is easy, as it's located right alongside the trail that leads to the Wall Street Mill. I normally park at the small dirt parking area located about a quarter mile northeast of the larger, paved parking lot at the Barker Dam Trailhead. From there, it's only about 1/3-mile along a well established trail to the Desert Queen Well (Flag #3 on the map below).

The trail starts here.

Take the right branch for the Desert Queen Well

You'll see the windmill long before you reach it, that's part of the fun, trying to be the first in your group to spot it. It's a bit stark, so it's sometimes not as easy to spot as you might think. And then, there it is.

Once at the windmill, I always enjoy poking around at the stuff scattered about. If I'm with a group of scouts, I generally see how many of them can fit inside the water tank. Current record is eight. As for the other bits and pieces of desert gold? There's piles of wood, clay tiles, trash, metal and generally a bit of clothing that someone has forgotten. Here are the highlights:



The old iron pump is in pretty good shape, but it's locked into position so it can't be tried out. You can see an area that has a welded repair on the pump in the photo to the right. It's a neat old pump and must have pumped a lot of water out of the ground over the years.

A big round cement thing with metal around the edges and possibly underneath. I have no idea.

A good-sized pile of clay or ceramic pipe rubble. At least this stuff looked like broken pieces of pipe to me. Perhaps someone was going to pipe water somewhere, or just from the well to a tank.

This looks like the remains of some kind of sled or trailer, something that was probably used to haul stuff around. 

Two piles of lumber are near the windmill. I have a feeling that the image above may have been a pump house at some time. There's a lot of wood in this pile. The image below could have been the remains of a raised platform that the water tank once sat upon. Or, vice versa. 

The Desert Queen Well water tank. It's a big, heavy thing. Funny thing is, while it's always in roughly the same spot when I visit, it's also always facing a different direction than it was the last time I was there. People just like to move it around by tugging on the steel support cables still attached to it.

I guess it's been a long time since this old windmill pumped any water from the desert's depths, but I'm glad it's still in place. It's a piece of J Tree history and was an important water source during its time. It helped quench the thirst of many a man and beast over the years and still serves a purpose today, as a photogenic landmark on a great desert trail. I hope it stands for another 100 years.

Flag #3 - The Desert Queen Well