Stagecoach routes were all the rage in the 1873. Just ask John Wayne—he starred in that movie about stagecoaches for which no one can remember the title.
Still, traveling along Julius Chester’s new stagecoach service from Bakersfield to Glennville and back was a 16-hour round trip over fairly rough terrain. So, John Elden got the idea to construct a stopover area a little past the halfway point. About five hours from Bakersfield, Granite Station would become a well-known stop for coaches, freights, and sheep shearers throughout the late 1800s and early 1900s.
It was first known as Five Dogs Gulch, Five Dogs Crossing, and Five Dogs Creek (we found reference to all three names). Thankfully, the confusion wouldn’t last, as it was later named Elmer for a brief period of time before officially being named Granite in 1875. The Station would become famous for being a stage stop where no one was ever killed, much to the chagrin of cowboys everywhere…and our executive editor. But when one considers the gratuitous way stagecoaches and the Old West are depicted, that’s quite a feat.
Yet the locale was not entirely devoid of raucous behavior. After all, it was frequented by the types of people that could make Yosemite Sam blush. But it still maintained its charm.
For example, in 1902, the recently wed Mrs. Iris Beatty was on her way to Delonaga Hot Springs on the Kern River, where her husband Charles was employed at a popular resort.
The trip would take two days on the four-horse stage owned by Bill May. Naturally, the length of the trip required a stopover at Granite Station. But when Iris arrived, the operators of the hotel were concerned about having such a beautiful woman amidst the regulars. In other words, an “unaccompanied” lady would be roosting for the night with rowdy, inebriated sheep shearers.
So, the owners suggested Iris retire early. Though she followed their advice, Iris still woke up to the sounds of drunken tomfoolery. Somehow, they hadn’t breeched her door. That’s because Mr. May had, very gentlemanly-like, placed his sleeping bag at the foot of her door. Talk about Old West charm. But that fits right in with the history of Granite Station, which tragically burned to the ground in 1993. It went down in history as a place full of the types of things the Old West is famous for…except for the lack of killings, that is.
Article appeared in our 27-3 Issue – August 2010