Story of Deepwell

Chapter Two

The legend goes that in early, early days, an Indian and his wife lived up in Chino Canyon tending their apricot orchard, and when an occasional traveler passed on the old dirt wagon road that meandered close along the hill to avoid the sand drifts, the couple would look up from their work and call “Hello, George,” or whatever the person’s name was. The traveler would look back trying to see who had called and where the voice had come from. But they never could see the Indian and his wife who tended their apricots in the canyon, so it always remained a mystery. But in looking back they would receive and retain a memory of the charm of the desert, and they would soon return, often to make their permanent home. The man and his wife began quarreling with each other so Tahquitz turned them to stone. You can see them today, the two large rocks which guard the entrance to Chino Canyon, and they still call the visitors back to Palm Springs.
This desert was known to the early Indians and Mexicans as “The Hollow of God’s Hand” (La Palma de la Mano de Dios.) The valley is surrounded on the north and east by the San Bernardino, Little San Bernardino, Orocopia, and Chocolate Mountains, and on the west and south by the Peninsula Range (San Jacinto, Santa Rosa, and Vallecito).
An official survey issued in 1855 reports that there was one road from Banning to the Colorado River. It entered Palm Springs from the north at the westerly end of Canebrake Road, wandered south to the Catholic Church and on through to the hot springs. It then passed through section 14, crossed Ramon Road at the trailer court and curved southeast to Araby Point. A well-marked Indian trail paralleled the road on the west, from the pass to a point about where the Desert Inn now stands, crossed Palm Canyon Drive and continued on east to the Indian village and fields (the present site of Deep Well Ranch).

Here the Indians had about 15 acres planted to figs and grapes. The trail then proceeded to Smoke Tree Ranch, continuing east, a branch climbing south to the Indian Village of Rincon, near Andreas Canyon, and on up through Palm Canyon to the Indian villages in the mountains.
The first white men, looking for land to buy, appeared in Palm Springs in 1880. They were W.E. Van Slyke and M. Byrne, both of San Bernardino. They visited an Indian named Pedro Chino who had developed a very small ranch between the hot springs (Agua Caliente) and the mountains. Chino had planted a few fruit trees and irrigated them with the flood waters. He lived in a small, one-room adobe house not far from the present Hotel Oasis. Van Slyke and Byrne offered Chino $150 for his ranch. He took it, turned his ranch over to the white men, and rode off on his horse to the Indian village of Protrero near Banning. The first village real estate transactions had taken place. Then Van Slyke and Byrne proceeded to buy more land, just like you or me.
But they didn’t settle here to live. They were our first speculators. Judge McCallum, our own Pearl McManus’ father, was the first white man to make his home here. In 1884 he built the little adobe which is now part of the Hotel Oasis, and set out an orchard of apricots and oranges, supplemented by a vineyard and an alfalfa patch. The records of San Diego County of 1887 prove that the Judge must have really been sold on the desert, because deed after deed is recorded in his name. It is also a matter of record that on March 24, 1885, Van Slyke and Byrne granted Judge McCallum a fifth interest in the 320 acres constituting the original town site. The first real estate transaction in the village between two white men.


   
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