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Treasures of Corn Springs Ca.

cornpetro1  The history of Corn Springs goes back thousands of years, back to the first native inhabitants of the area. As you enter the canyon you will be greeted with rocks and boulders covered with Native petroglyphs that possibly go back thousands of years. Many of the petroglyphs are in what is called entopic forms, which means they were most likely made by a Shaman during his many vision quests. Others show more of a Grapevine style and indicate a Yuman influence ( according to petroglyphs.us ). If you decide to stay awhile and explore the canyons, you will notice that the petroglyphs are spread out through the whole canyon and they are exquisite. As you continue into the canyon you will see the remnants of a once beautiful oasis, but there is a bit of controversy concerning how the oasis came into being. A man named Tyler Bennett stated that sometime around 1907 he planted two fig trees in the canyon, but others feel that the oasis has been there much longer. In 1921 there 57 trees, but a fire swept through later and damaged most of them. The trees did manage to survive and by 1945 there were over eighty.


  One of the true treasures of this wonderful place was a man named August “Gus” Lederer, otherwise known as the ” Mayor of Corn Springs “. Gus was born in Idaho in 1868 and was only about five foot six and weighed roughly one hundred and twenty pounds. With only a couple of years of what we would call a formal education, Gus was admitted to the Colorado School of Mines. But he did not stay long enough to graduate. Gus’ love was for the eighteen burro’s that he called family. He would always make sure they were corralled at night, for safety. And every morning, the burro’s would line up at his backdoor for their morning pancake and Gus would make sure each and everyone of them were fed.  A part time prospector and a great conversationalist, Gus could discuss anything from desert wildlife, city people, politics and even had a take on the Pegleg mine. But unfortunately Gus died in December of 1932 from a black widow bite, seems the spider bite him on the back of his neck and by the time he was able to get help, it was too late. Gus was one of those early desert inhabitants that gave some sort of life to what most people called a desolate area. Important well educated people, while exploring the desert, sought him ought and others simply stopped by and were glad they did. Gus, petroglyphs and a desert oasis make visiting Corn Springs a great daytrip for the whole family…



Directions from Desert Center: Head East on the I-10 about 8 miles, Exit Corn Springs Rd, Follow road to Corn Springs sign and turn right. Follow road  until you see the oasis, petroglyphs are on the right and Gus’s cabin is straight ahead. NEVER drive in the desert unprepared!!!! make sure you have plenty of supplies and water and for safety ALWAYS travel in pairs or groups… FAIR WARNING!!!




6 Responses so far.

  1. admin says:

    I would like to hear more about your time at Corn Springs, if you are willing Elizabeth, please send me a private message when you can. THX!!

    • Elizabeth Douglas says:

      Actually I was at Corn Springs twice. Once as a very young child when we lived at Desert Center, CA. about 1942. We visited there in a Model A Ford and at that time there were the rocks with the Indian writing and there were also wild burros that had been turned loose by prospectors. Apparently the burros were having a hard time finding enough to eat and we had a few cookies with us and we fed them to the burros and the windows of the car were rolled down and they actually tried to eat the buttons off our clothes. Then many years later, probably around 1971 we visited Corn Springs again because I had remembered it from all those years. At that time we lived in a suburb of Los Angeles and we visited it again and did a picnic lunch there. The palm trees were very ragged and wasn’t much there but it was an oasis out there on the desert. I’m not living in Georgia but California will always feel like home to me and I do love the California desert.

      • admin says:

        Thx for posting Elizabeth! You may have actually seen some of Gus’s pancake burro’s. I was wondering if you might have any pictures of them, they would be a incredible thing to share with other readerse…

        • Elizabeth Douglas says:

          We had wondered where all the burros came from. So appreciate knowing that they were most likely some of Gus’s burros. Am sorry but we didn’t even own a camera in those days. Those were very poor days for my family in terms of finances. But I am grateful to have the memories I have.

  2. […] have left their distinctive marks on the landscape. To really take a hike back in time, explore the Corn Springs Petroglyph Site sometime when you’re in La Quinta. It’s just a bit further down I-10 and on BLM […]

  3. Elizabeth Douglas says:

    I was very interested in the information about corn spring. I lived in Desert Center from 1940 through 1943 and visited Corn Spring as a child during that time. So glad to see that it is still accessible to people. In those days, of course, there was no developed campground and no facilities.

    The day we visited there were wild burros there. My family had some cookies and crackers in the car and we fed the burrows who were thin and seemed very hungry. As a child, I remember I thought they were so cute as they stuck their heads in our car window and actually tried to bite the buttons off our coats.

    This website brought back some nice memories.