In the heart of Joshua Tree National Park in the high desert of southern California lies the Keys Desert Queen Ranch - a testament to resourcefulness and fortitude for surviving in the harsh environment of the desert southwest of North America. William (Bill) Keys came to be the caretaker of the Desert Queen Mine in about 1910. In 1915, following the death of the mine's owner, Keys became owner of the mine and mill in return for five years of back pay he was owed. Filing a homesteading claim for an additional 160 acres, Keys created what was to become the Keys Desert Queen Ranch.
Keys and his wife Francis had seven children, three of whom died at or soon after birth, and lived on the ranch until they died - Francis in 1963, and Bill in 1969.
You can visit the ranch today only as part of a ranger-guided tour provided the National Park Service. Most of the buildings and much of the machinery has been preserved and tell a story of what it takes to survive in the harsh conditions of California's Mojave Desert. But the Keys did more than just survive, they prospered in this place. Besides mining Keys provided stamping mill services to other miners, farmed, raised cattle, built five damns using the local rock and landscape, and started the first grade school in Joshua Tree. One can't help but wonder how they would survive today in the same environment given the same starting conditions.
This week's photo was taken with a Canon EOS 5D MkIII dSLR and an EF 17-40 mm f/4L USM lens zoomed to 32 mm. Exposure was set to 1/180 sec at f/4.0 and ISO 100.