Box-S Ranch

Box-s Ranch

Photo: Don Judkins

Story by Pat Judkins.

This charred chimney is all that remains of the once busy Box S Ranch; home of James and Anna Goulding and their children. Box S Ranch activities were the hub of this community in the early 1900s -- so much so that the entire community was known, and shown on county maps, simply as Box S until about 1916.

Then, "Dad" Goulding and  Dr. Jim Pahl from the Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles named the locale Lucerne Valley. Goulding, who was successful in growing alfalfa (called lucerne) and his friend casually referred to it as Lucerne Valley, and the name stuck.

Box S was made up of a rough, dirt road with only a few houses and isolated homestead shacks out in the sagebrush. However, the city of Victor (now Victorville), 21 miles away, and the city of Hesperia were already being promoted in those early days.

The first pioneers to reside on the then unnamed Box S Ranch property in 1886 was W.W. Brown and his family. Ten years later, Al Swarthout bought the property. Box S was his cattle brand. In 1897 he moved further east to Old Woman Springs Ranch. At that time the Goulding family took over the Box S Ranch. 

Goulding, accepted as the founder of Lucerne Valley, developed the Box S Ranch to play a vital part in local history. The first school, library, and post office were all established there. The ranch and way station became the center of both community and social functions. Early Independence Day and Lucerne Valley Day celebrations were held at the ranch.

A cousin of the Gouldings came to live with their family so they could meet the requirement of six students; needed to make a school district legal. Goulding brought in a building on wheels that was a former work shack. The wheels were removed, and one end of the 8 x 18' building was painted black for a blackboard. The Lucerne Valley School District was established, and the school opened on the Box S Ranch on September 9, 1907.

In 1912, Lucerne Valley's Library began with 140 books in the front room of the same ranch house. Prior to October 12, 1912, when Rosa Koehly became Postmaster, the mail was delivered to the Box S Ranch. Old-timers would go there to have a hot meal and converse while using the blacksmith shop to mend tools or harnesses. While they were there, they would dig through a big washtub for their mail -- all in one stop!

The Box S era ended completely when Dr. Rao V. and Devi S. Davuloy purchased the remaining 2.88 acre property in 1989 for $180,000, and demolished the last of the historic buildings.

A walk through the Pioneer section of Lucerne Valley Memorial Park will show you headstones and markers for many members of the Goulding family; providing dates of their births and deaths.

The Box S Ranch chimney is all that remains, standing lonely, yet stoicly, behind "Filippi's Emporium" on Highway 18 -- across the street from the post office. At one time a huge cottonwood grove provided shade there for the exciting July 4th picnics and other social events. In an almost eerie way, the chimney could be a headstone for the days of lore -- giving us some connection to Lucerne Valley's past and the pioneers who paved the way for the rest of us.


Author's sources: "Range One East" by Virginia Hemphill Gobar, "Raising the Dust" by Virginia Hemphill Gobar, "Quick History of Lucerne Valley" by Ethel Owen, The Leader newspaper, " The Founding of a Mojave Desert Community" by Martha Chickering, and Lucerne Valley County Branch Library resources. 


[Lucerne Valley Website] [Lucerne Valley History] [San Bernardino County Service Area 29]
[Lucerne Valley Chamber of Commerce] [Root Diggers Genealogy Association]

visits since 5/1/2001