Tag Archives: hi desert nature museum


Long-time Morongo Basin residents may remember seeing the desert tortoise Moses ambling around the Hi-Desert Nature Museum in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Managing editor Tami Roleff has more information about Moses in this historical highlight…

“Because of his age, he was actually here to kind of see the beginnings of Yucca Valley. He might have been around when Chuck Warren was digging his well.”

An older photo of Moses the desert tortoise on display at the Hi-Desert Nature Museum. Photo courtesy Hi-Desert Nature Museum.

Vanessa Cantu, the Hi-Desert Nature Museum registrar, said the museum’s founder, Evelyn Conklin, brought in Moses to be part of the live animal exhibit. Moses wandered freely around the museum and posed for photos with visitors. There’s some debate over whether people were forbidden to touch him or whether they could ride on his back.

Moses was estimated to be between 80 and 100 years old when he died in 1973. The museum sent him off to be freeze-dried, which is how tortoises are preserved for display. But then the museum couldn’t afford the $95 to redeem him, and a fundraising campaign started to raise the money.

Moses the desert tortoise was 80 to 100 years old when he died in 1973. Hi-Desert Nature Museum photo

We do have some record that people were donating $2 at a time, $5 was the big ticket.”

Stephanie Ritter, the museum’s program supervisor, said long-time residents remember Moses.

“Kids that grew up here ask if he’s still around. He comes up several times a year when people come and ask about him.”

Moses is still on display at the museum. Check him out when the museum re-opens.


The Hi-Desert Nature Museum will launch its newest virtual exhibit Saturday, “War Comes Home: The Legacy” in conjunction with “Letters from the Archives—War Edition.” As part of the online exhibit, Z107.7 will broadcast a letter—read by a volunteer—every Saturday morning at 8:25. Managing editor Tami Roleff has more information…

“Letters from the Archive” features letters written during WWII and Operation Desert Storm. The historic letters have been read by local volunteers. Courtesy Hi-Desert Nature Museum

“My dearest darling,”

“War Comes Home” focuses on private correspondence from almost every major conflict in U.S. history, and offers insight into the thoughts and emotions of veterans and their families.

“My darling man, in case you are interested, you are officially in the dog house.”

These intimate perspectives—from the Civil War era through the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq—reveal how war can shape a life, a family, and a community.

Through private correspondence from almost every major conflict in U.S. history, War Comes Home offers insight into the thoughts and emotions of veterans and their families upon their homecoming. These intimate perspectives – from the Civil War era through the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq – reveal how war can shape a life, a family, and a community. Courtesy Hi-Desert Nature Museum

“January 18, 1992. On this one-year anniversary of my capture as a prisoner of war, Cindy and I would like to thank you for the time you took to support us during our time of need.”

The historic letters are read by local volunteers and starting September 19, a featured “letter of the week” will be broadcast on Z107.7 FM at 8:25 a.m. each Saturday morning. The letters can also be viewed and listened to on the Hi-Desert Nature Museum website.

“It would be sweet of you to remember that your letters are all the contact I have with civilization.”

“Letters from the Archive—War Edition” is a collaboration between the Hi-Desert Nature Museum, the Palm Springs Air Museum and Morongo Basin residents.


The Hi-Desert Nature Museum will host a virtual lecture on meteorites tomorrow, August 20. Reporter Joshua King has the details…

As a means of adapting to the changing environment, the Hi-Desert Nature Museum has decided to host free virtual lectures over Zoom. On Thursday, August 20th at noon, Dr. Stephenie Slahor and the Desert Lecture Collaborative will present their lecture on meteorites. Learn about where they might originate, how they make their way to our atmosphere and planet, and how to identify a possible meteorite.

Link for website: http://hidesertnaturemuseum.org/event/zoom-lecture/


After a short summer break, the Yucca Valley Town Council is back in session tonight for a regular meeting. The council will meet in closed session at 5:15 p.m. to discuss potential litigation and to consider negotiations regarding property at the Tri-Valley Little League fields. Managing editor Tami Roleff fills in the agenda for the open session of the meeting…

Tonight’s meeting will start off with a recap of the SoCalGas “Fueling our Communities” food distribution program. Among the items on the consent agenda, the council will be asked to give the Hi-Desert Nature Museum $12,000 to purchase the George Van Tassell collection. Under department reports, the council will hear the building and safety annual report; the five-year capital improvement program; and an update from the Interagency Council on Homelessness. The council will also be asked to approve a $20,000 budget for the virtual Yucca Valley Film Festival. And finally, the council will be asked to give staff direction about the fireworks display that is tentatively scheduled for Labor Day weekend.

The meeting will be held in the Yucca Room of the Yucca Valley Community Center, or online at yucca-valley.org.


The Hi-Desert Nature Museum and the Recreation Division are providing a weekly selection of fun activities and virtual programs for area children. New this week are activities to do at home, such as making a fairy garden or fluffy slime; an oil and water experiment; making breakfast popsicles out of milk and cereal; making a rainbow in a jar; and making your own moisturizing lotion out of ordinary household ingredients. See the links below for instructions and lists of materials.