May 2012
Bison Cow with Calf
Tortoise Tales: Newsletter of the
Hi-Desert Nature Museum
Grubstake Days 2012 
Beard Contest
Beard Contest
Come celebrate the 62nd annual Grubstake Days!  The Grubstake Days Parade begins at 10:00 a.m. and travels along Highway 62 from Apache Trail to Dumosa Avenue. Following the parade is a community fair at the Yucca Valley Community Center Complex, including vendor booths, horseshoes tournament, beard growing contest, family kickball tournament, and lots of food and fun! The Z107.7FM Mobile DJ will be there and a full schedule of entertainment is planned including music by Kristina Quigley in Concert and Forever Came Calling. 

The Hi-Desert Nature Museum will be hosting hands-on art demonstrations led by some of the talented artists from our current Yucca Valley High School Art Show.  

Saturday, May 26
Click here to view a full schedule of Grubstake Days events
MBHS Presents 
Minerva Hoyt
Minerva Hoyt, led the way to establishing JTNP
Dave Carney, Park Ranger and Supervisor of Interpretive Operations at Joshua Tree National Park, is going to present the history of JTNP.  He will explain why the area was nationally significant enough to justify consideration as a unit of the National Park Service, starting with American Indian history and leading through the interest in creating a National Monument. 

Wednesday, May 9,
Starting at 5:30 p.m.
$5 donation to the MBHS at the door
MARK YOUR CALENDARS!  MBHS Presents "The Landers Earthquake: A 20 Year Retrospective" on June 13
Science Saturday: Money Money
People often say "Money makes the world go 'round" but how much do you actually know about money?  Money has many distinct markings and characteristics that have a specific meaning and purpose.  Children will learn about the science behind bills and coins during this Science Saturday.  It is recommended that children be of school age for this program.  

Saturday, May 19, 11:00 - 11:30 a.m.
FREE, no pre-registration required
Upcoming Science Saturdays
June 9: Optical Illusions
June 23: Light and Color
Yucca Valley High School Art Show Jamie Hayward Painting
This exhibition highlights the finest work of some of this community's rising talent from Yucca Valley High School.  The show displays a variety of compelling subjects in different artistic mediums such as drawing and painting.  (Shown here a painting by Jamie Hayward)

On Display through June 2
American Bison  
American Bison

Plains Bison


The American Bison, sometimes called buffalo, are an iconic image of the Great Plains and the Old West.  They are a North American species of bison that once roamed in massive herds from Canada to Mexico. Two subspecies have been identified: the Plains Bison, smaller in size and with a more rounded hump; and the Wood Bison, the larger of the two, measures up to 6 1/2 feet at the shoulder and tips the scales at over a ton, making it the heaviest land animal in North America. 

Did You Know?
* Bison is a Latin word meaning wild ox, while buffalo originated from the French fur trappers who called them boeufs.
* The Bison genus first appeared in southern Asia around 2 million years ago.
* Bison immigrated to North America several times in the Pleistocene Epoch during times of low sea levels when exposed land connected North America and Asia.
* Breeding age males play no role in calf raising and normally do not mix with cow and calf groups.
* Bison are herbivores feeding on grasses and shrubs. They regurgitate their food and chew it as cud before final digestion.
* Bison can run up to 40 miles per hour.
* With the introduction of horses, Plains Indians found that a good horseman could lance or shoot enough bison to keep his tribe and family fed. The bison provided meat, leather, sinew for bows, grease, dried dung for fires, and even the hooves could be boiled for glue.
* During the 19th century, settlers killed 50 million bison for food, sport and to deprive Native Americans of their most important natural asset.  The once enormous herds were reduced to only a few thousand animals. 
* Today, bison live on preserves and ranches where they are raised for their meat, which is lower in fat and cholesterol than beef.
In This Issue
Grubstake Days 2012
MBHS Presents
Science Saturday
YVHS Art Show
American Bison
New Museum Video!
Support the Museum
New Museum Video!
Museum Logo
The museum has produced a promotional video with Dan O'Dowd and Paul Morehead.  It's an entertaining 3 1/2 minutes and highlights the museum and local attractions.
Click here to view the
video on You Tube!  
Support the Museum
Brick Plaque
The museum has two active fundraising campaigns to enable us to continue providing quality educational programs and exhibitions for residents and visitors. Help preserve our local history, art, culture, and natural science by becoming a museum member, or purchase a copper plaque to mount at the entry way of the museum with your personalized engraved inscription. Information on these programs is available at the museum's reception desk or on our website. 
Stagecoach in Town by Crooks

Beginning in the 18th century wagons began to be used to carry passengers on regularly scheduled trips between cities and towns, first within New England in 1744. Mail coaches appeared in the later 18th century, replacing the earlier post riders.  The term "stage" originally referred to the distance between stations on a route, the coach traveling the entire distance in "stages," but through the years the combined name of "stagecoach" came into popularity. The first Concord stagecoach was built in 1827, employing leather strap braces under the coaches which gave them a swinging motion instead of the jolting ride of a spring suspension. Travel conditions could be challenging. In coaches with three bench seats, the passengers rode three abreast squeezed into a space of 15 inches per person. Those in the forward row faced rearward with their knees dovetailed with middle row passengers. Travelers rode with baggage on their laps and sometimes mail pouches beneath their feet. The roof of the coach was designed to carry luggage, but often provided extra seating for as many as nine passengers. Many travelers were bounced against the inside of the coach, and suffered from motion sickness, due to the rough roads. Stagecoaches traveled at an average of four to seven miles per hour with the total daily mileage covered from 70 to 120 miles. A fresh set of horses was staged at each station so the coach could continue after a quick stop to rehitch the team. Although uncomfortable, the real danger of stagecoach passengers was the risk of robbery. Cash payrolls and bank transfers were regularly carried by scheduled stage lines. One of the most famous robbers was Charles Bowles, aka "Black Bart." He became known as the gentleman bandit and left poems behind at two of his robberies.  As the railroad spread throughout the west, stagecoaches were limited to traveling to small towns where trains did not stop. In the early 1900s, the stagecoach began to be replaced by the Ford motorcar and eventually motor buses.

Visit the


The Hi-Desert Nature Museum is located in the Yucca Valley Community Center Complex at 57116 Twentynine Palms Highway.  The museum is open Tuesday - Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Admission is free; donations support the educational mission of the museum.  The Hi-Desert Nature Museum is operated by the Town of Yucca Valley.  

For more information on our programs amd events contact the museum at (760) 369-7212 or visit our website at


To view a full schedule of Yucca Valley events, sports programs and recreation classes visit the Town's website at