Friday, September 8, 2017

Preserving local history in Daggett

The old Stone Hotel in Daggett will become home of the new Daggett Museum. (James Quigg, Daily Press)

By Davina Fisher
Desert Dispatch

DAGGETT — After a 13-year hiatus, the Daggett Historical Society is planning on opening the Daggett Museum by the end of this year.

In 2004, the museum made national headlines after thieves made off with several Native American artifacts — one of which included a basket appraised at $3,500. The museum has been closed ever since.

Fast forward to 2017. The Daggett Historical Society has been making efforts to revamp significant buildings in town, including the museum.

“We’ve spent the last two years rebuilding and getting it ready for open-to-the-public status,” said the current president of the Daggett Historical Society, Daryl Schendel. “The purpose of the museum and the society is to not only preserve the history, but to make available to people the significance of Daggett and people who have lived there.”

In the late 1800s, Daggett was a major transportation and supply center for mining districts — most notably the town of Calico, which produced over $20 million in silver ore over a 12-year span. Rich silver deposits were found in the Calico Mountains six miles north of Daggett and in 1882 the Calico camp began to boom as the Silver King mine came into full production. During this time, mills and processing plants were constructed on the Mojave River near Daggett.

In 1888, the Calico railroad was built to connect the mine with the Santa Fe main line at Daggett in order to more efficiently move the ore from mine to mill. In 1891, more than 100 tons of ore from the Silver King mine and 50 tons from the Waterloo mine were hauled daily to be processed at the Oro Grande Milling company near Daggett.

During this same period the borax rush, in 1883, hit Calico. By 1902, Daggett was supported by three borax mines employing 200 men and had three stores, three saloons, two Chinese restaurants, a railroad, a drug store, a lumber yard, and the old Stone Hotel. The production of borax in San Bernardino County was at its peak in the year 1902, when the total value was just over $2 million. It has been estimated that borax taken out of the Calico Hills had a value of more than $9 million.

The museum has photos, tools and clothing on display to tell Daggett’s story.

“In each display cabinet there is something new unique,” said Schendel. “History on John Daggett, the river, fish pond, the stamp mill, the Daggett ditch — all things that played a big part in the area.”

The museum will initially be open on a limited basis, once a week. The Daggett Historical Society also plans to hold events at the museum. There isn’t an admission fee, but donations will be accepted.

“More stories are coming out since a lot of the families that live there are direct descendents of the pioneers of the town,” said Schendel. ” We want to bring back Daggett’s significance and history before it’s lost totally.”

For more information about Daggett, visit