Driving California Highway 395

Not many people think much of interest exists between Yosemite National Park and Death Valley National Park. George Cantor’s book, Pop Culture Landmarks: A Traveler’s Guide  offers no locations. Highway 395 runs between the end of the Mojave Desert and the top of Washington State. Our trip took us through the famous Owens Valley were Los Angeles grabbed its water supply.

The information we had mentioned the Eastern California Museum. We rolled at 25 miles an hour into Independence, California anyway, so we made a right turn, passed the house of 19th century author  and pulled into the small parking lot of the museum. It was 94 outside with a scorching sun.

The information mentioned the museum’s collection of Native American baskets by the local Timbisha and Paiutes. We walked inside and were blown away. The baskets and other items were there but so was much more.

Details regarding the water struggle with L.A. still fascinate. On the rear wall was a map drawn by a local showing the
Valley and the path of the river, lake and small towns along it that used the water for their once thriving agriculture.

Striking photographs of the Japanese-Americans who were relocated to the nearby Manzanar camp during World War II. Since the buildings were immediately removed after the end of the War, the Museum holds the most substantial collections of the materials for the now National Historic Site. I showed John, the Museum’s Services Administrator, how to look up the National Archives’ database on the internees in the camps.

We left and talked about the collections along the drive. We saw the marquee of a theater and old movie posters when we slowed down going through the town of Lone Pines. I said that we had to turn the car around and go inside. Glad we did!

Another amazing jewel. This old mining town had long served as the backdrop for the filming of many Hollywood westerns. http://www.lonepinechamber.org/siteseeing/movie-locations.html

Inside the old theater which still showed movies, was a treasure trove and some amazing memorabilia and descriptions of moving making in the area.

Among the fun exhibits is a collection of hats worn by male and female movie stars during the movies they shot in the area.

The movies shot in the area form an extensive list. The biggest names for me included: Demi Moore’s G.I. Jane, Cary Grant’s Gugna Din from 1939, Star Trek: The Final Frontier (1989) and Kevin Bacon’s Tremors from 1990. The data base can be found below.



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