Before the White Man arrived, the Owens Valley was inhabited by the Southern Paiute Indians of the Mono Tribe, who occupied the cooler mountain valleys in the summers and retreated to the warmer Owens Valley floor during the winter months.
The town of Lone Pine is named after the lonely pine tree that was found at the mouth of Lone Pine Canyon. The town was founded during the 1860’s to provide supplies to the local gold and silver mining communities of Kearsarge, Cerro Gordo and Darwin, and later to farmers and ranchers.
The pine tree has long since vanished, destroyed in flood.
Mount Whitney was first discovered by a California Geological Survey team in 1864, who named the peak after Josiah Whitney, a Professor at the California Academy of Sciences. Members of the survey team, William Brewer and Clarence King attempted to climb the peak but were unsuccessful. Whitney was first climbed on August 18, 1873, by three Lone Pine locals; Charley Begole, Johnny Lucas, and Al Johnson.
Over the years the town has endured an Earthquake the magnitude of the “Big One” in San Francisco in 1906, it has been home to a transient mining population, was home to the construction workers building the LA Aqueduct, and has hosted the crews responsible for many classic feature films. During World War II Japanese American were confined in the Manzanar relocation camp.
Click on one of the topics of historical interest in the drop down menu. Photos provided by the Eastern California Museum.