(Originally written by Yerxa Cabot for the Desert Sentinel)
It was a smelly place. The source of the water was tiny driblets of water oozing out of a five-foot clay bank. A dilapidated, rickety ladder stood there, and by going down a half-dozen rungs it was possible to fill a canteen where the slightly moving water kept the scum from forming too thickly. It was here that we obtained our water.
The only other water in 10,000 acres was at another mud hole called “Seven Palms,” nearly five miles to the south. Wells were then unknown, and all homesteaders obtained water at these two places or at the railroad tank.
For a few days Bob and I tramped over the desert, searching out corners, examining land, and exploring canyons, sleeping where night overtook us, but returning to Two Bunch for water. We walked over what is now Desert Hot Springs and encountered only rabbits and a few snakes. Bob chose land adjoining Two Bunch because, as he said, he could get water there, such as it was.
I took another day alone and, returning late in the afternoon, found broken bits of pottery on the slope of the big hill. From this I reasoned Indians had lived in the vicinity. “Good enough for Indians, good enough for me”–so I picked this hill for my claim.
I later named it Miracle Hill, because at its base I discovered hot curative mineral waters, [and] on the other side cold water. Miracle Hill is not sedimentary like the others, but thrust up out of the earth’s surface in ancient times. Round about it are beds of red clay and blue clay from which Indians made pottery. Also there were to be found rocks, building sand, good earth, and desert soil, all of which is ample reason for the name “Miracle Hill.” But I am ahead of my story.
After paying my filing fees for the homestead location to the Government land office in Los Angeles, I had less than 10 dollars left. The law reads that homesteaders must live continuously on the land seven months of each year for three years, cultivate 20 acres of soil, build a house, dig for water, build fences, and otherwise show definite intention of making the claim into a home. And I had less than 10 dollars!