Rice, The California Ghost Town With WWII History

Rice, a small ghost town in San Bernardino county, California, holds a rich history dating back to World War II. Despite being abandoned, the remains of foundations, buildings, and abandoned railroad cars still stand as a testament to the once-thriving community that played a significant role in California’s history.

During its heyday, Rice was a bustling town with a population of 6,000 people, serving as an airfield and a water stop for steam trains. It was even a contender for the first nuclear test.

The geographical location of Rice also played a significant role in its history. Nestled in the Mojave Desert, Rice offered a strategic location for the military during World War II. The harsh desert climate, with scorching temperatures during the day and freezing temperatures at night, made it a challenging place to live and work. Nevertheless, the town’s residents persevered, contributing to the war effort and shaping the town’s history.

Today, Rice may seem like any other abandoned town, but its history and remains offer a glimpse into a bygone era that shaped California’s past.

Key Takeaways

  • Rice was a thriving town during WW2, serving as an airfield, water stop for steam trains, and part of the Desert Training Camps.
  • Despite being one of three contenders for the first nuclear test, Rice lost and eventually became a ghost town with no residents.
  • Today, Rice is a desolate place with only remains of foundations, buildings, and abandoned railroad cars, as well as the world-famous Shoe Tree.
  • Rice’s history and information can be found at the General Patton Memorial Museum at Chiriaco Summit.

Location and Significance

Located in San Bernardino county, California, Rice was a dynamic place during WWII, serving as an airfield and water stop for steam trains, and was part of the Desert Training Camps, making it a significant location in the history of the war.

Its strategic location in the Mojave Desert made it an ideal location for military training, and its proximity to the California-Arizona RR and MWD California Aqueduct made it an important stopover for transportation and water supply.

Today, Rice is a ghost town with no residents, but its remains of foundations, buildings, and abandoned railroad cars serve as tourist attractions for visitors interested in its historical significance.

Despite its current state of abandonment, Rice remains an important part of American history, particularly in the context of WW2. Its role as a training center for soldiers and a vital stopover for transportation and water supply cannot be understated.

Moreover, its participation in the race for the first nuclear test adds to its historical significance, cementing its place in the annals of American history.

While Rice may be a sad-looking place today, it is a testament to the resilience of the American spirit and a reminder of the sacrifices made during WW2.

Geography and Climate

The region encompassing Rice is characterized by a mild winter and hot summer climate. Visitors to Rice can expect temperatures to range from around 50°F to 80°F from December through February, with temperatures climbing to nearly 120°F during summer.

The surrounding natural environment starkly contrasts the abandoned buildings and rusting railroad cars that remain in Rice. Visitors can explore the nearby Joshua Tree National Park, which features stunning desert landscapes and unique rock formations. The nearby Colorado River also provides water sports, hiking, and camping opportunities.

While Rice itself may not offer much in the way of tourist attractions, the surrounding area provides plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation. Visitors can take advantage of the mild winter weather to hike through the desert and explore the abandoned buildings in Rice, then cool off in the refreshing waters of the Colorado River during the summer months.

Those interested in history can visit the nearby General Patton Memorial Museum to learn more about the region’s role in World War II. Overall, the natural beauty of the area and its rich history make Rice and its surroundings a worthwhile destination for those looking for an off-the-beaten-path adventure.

Remains and Notable People

One notable resident of the former community in San Bernardino County was Clifford E. Cushman, who made significant contributions to the aviation industry. Cushman was a former gas station attendant in Rice, California during the Great Depression. He went on to invent the control and inertial restraint systems that most commercial and military pilots on Boeing or Douglas aircraft use. Cushman’s invention ensured that pilots could safely and effectively control their aircraft during flight, which has undoubtedly saved countless lives over the years.

Another interesting aspect of Rice’s history is the Shoe Tree legend. The Shoe Tree is located in the ghost town and is a well-known landmark. It is a tree covered in shoes, which has been a mystery to many visitors over the years. Some believe that the tree symbolizes good luck, while others believe it is a tribute to a loved one who has passed away.

Robert B. Cushman’s memories of Rice likely include stories about the Shoe Tree, which has become an iconic part of the town’s history and legacy.

Frequently Asked Questions

What was life like for the residents of Rice during WWII?

During WWII, Rice residents faced daily struggles such as water shortages and extreme weather conditions. However, the community supported each other, and the town’s economy thrived as it served as an airfield and water stop. Post-war, the mining industry’s decline led to population loss and economic challenges.

Why did Rice lose the bid to become the first nuclear test site?

Reasons for decision to not choose Rice as the site of the first nuclear test are unclear, but the alternative locations of Alamogordo and Trinity were ultimately chosen due to their remote locations and suitable terrain for testing.

What is the significance of the Shoe Tree in Rice, California?

The shoe tree in Rice, California has gained attention due to the Shoe Tree controversy, where locals decorated the tree with shoes as a tradition. The tree was cut down in 2013, causing controversy and leading to the planting of a new shoe tree nearby.

What happened to the school in Rice and why was it fenced off?

The abandoned school in Rice was once a beautiful building with two rooms and a smaller room for the school teacher. It was fenced off to preserve it after the school had been closed, but was eventually burned down, likely by drunks in the 1970s.

What other landmarks or attractions are located near Rice, California?

The nearby Joshua Tree National Park offers hiking trails and wildlife watching opportunities. Local cuisines can be found in the nearby towns of Twentynine Palms and Yucca Valley.

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