“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Barstow in San Bernardino County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)

Fort Irwin

Fort Irwin / Prehistory marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Baker, February 25, 2022
1. Fort Irwin / Prehistory marker


Ancient hunters first wandered into the Fort Irwin area over 10,000 years ago. They hunted Late Pleistocene animals like the giant mammoth with large fluted spear-points. These hunters and gatherers lived in small extended family groups along streams and lake shores. The men hunted while the women gathered seeds and plants. Over a period of several thousands of years the environment slowly changed from moist pluvial wetlands into the characteristic dry, arid desert that we see today. As large Pleistocene game animals became extinct, the pre-historic hunters adapted to hunting smaller game animals such as bighorn sheep, deer, and rabbits. The primary hunting weapon changed from the large jabbing spear to the lighter atlatl thrown spear tipped with a dart point. This weapon was used for several thousand years, roughly from 5000 B.C. to 500 B.C. Around 500 B.C. the bow and arrow replaced the atlatl as the primary hunting weapon. The bow and arrow was to remain the primary hunting weapon of the aboriginal hunters well into the 1800's. Rock circles, stone tools, and petroglyphs chipped
Paid Advertisement
Click on the ad for more information.
Please report objectionable advertising to the Editor.
Click or scan to see
this page online
on sun-baked rock are silent reminders of the unknown generations of prehistoric hunters and gatherers who once lived in this area of the Mojave Desert.


Less than 200 years ago the Fort Irwin area was a desolate and turbulent frontier. In the late 1700's Father Francisco Garcés became the first European explorer to enter the Mojave Desert. The old Indian Trail he followed was to be called the Old Spanish Trail, connecting Santa Fe and the Spanish Southwest with Alta California. In the early 1800's mountain men and fur trappers, traders and later wagon trains filled with immigrants travelled through the area, keeping a wary watch for marauding Indians and horse thieves on their westward journey to California.
Discoveries of gold and other precious metals and minerals attracted lone prospectors into the area. In response to recurring Indian attacks on miners and travelers crossing the desert, the U.S. Army conducted the Pah-ute Indian Campaign against the Indians living in the area in 1860. A redoubt was established at Bitter Springs as part of this campaign, and represents the first U.S. Army presence at Fort Irwin. Gold strikes and mining boom towns appeared and disappeared through the years. Mining was to remain an important economic activity until the creation of the MAAR, or Mojave Antiaircraft Artillery Range
Fort Irwin / History marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Baker, February 25, 2022
2. Fort Irwin / History marker
in 1939–1940. In 1942 the post was renamed Camp Irwin in honor of Major General George LeRoy Irwin, a World War I Commander. Camp Irwin became home of the U.S. Army Armor and Desert Training Center in 1951 and received its fort status in 1961. The California National Guard took control of the fort in 1972 and used it for training until October 16, 1980 when the National Training Center was activated. Fort Irwin was placed on rolls as an active installation on July 1, 1981.

Mojave Desert

The Mojave is a high, somewhat quadrangular-shaped desert with an altitude varying from 2000 to well over 5000 feet. Fort Irwin occupies 1000 square miles of the north-central Mojave Desert. The smallest of the North American deserts, it is characterized by low rainfall, low humidity, high summer temperatures, cold winters, and strong seasonal winds. The Mojave Desert is noted for its northwest-southeast trending mountains and its broad shallow basins. Principal mountain ranges on Fort Irwin include the Avawatz, Granite, and Tiefort, the latter playing an important role in the training mission as the site of the electronic battle monitoring system. Also characteristic of the Mojave Desert are the dry lake beds found in many of the basins. Desert dry lakes were formed during the Pleistocene following a period of mountain building in the desert — streams
Fort Irwin / Mojave Desert marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Baker, February 25, 2022
3. Fort Irwin / Mojave Desert marker
and rivers that formerly drained into the ocean were forced to carry water into undrained interior, low-lying basins. Desert dry lakes will still periodically fill with water during wet, rainy years, only to dry out again during hot, dry periods.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Anthropology & ArchaeologyExplorationForts and CastlesNative Americans.
Location. 35° 13.148′ N, 116° 44.123′ W. Marker is near Barstow, California, in San Bernardino County. Marker is on Fort Irwin Road, 27 miles north of Interstate 15, in the median. Located at the Fort Irwin Visitor Information Center, a security checkpoint at the entrance to the military base. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: Building 9, Fort Irwin Rd, Fort Irwin CA 92310, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 1 other marker is within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. National Training Center and Fort Irwin (approx. 1.4 miles away).
Fort Irwin Markers image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Baker, February 25, 2022
4. Fort Irwin Markers
Fort Irwin Markers and Visitor Center image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Baker, February 25, 2022
5. Fort Irwin Markers and Visitor Center
Fort Irwin sign image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Baker, February 25, 2022
6. Fort Irwin sign
Located five miles south of the visitor center.
Credits. This page was last revised on March 2, 2022. It was originally submitted on March 2, 2022, by Craig Baker of Sylmar, California. This page has been viewed 158 times since then and 68 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on March 2, 2022, by Craig Baker of Sylmar, California.

Share this page.  
Share on Tumblr

CeraNet Cloud Computing sponsors the Historical Marker Database.
U.S. FTC REQUIRED NOTICE: This website earns income from qualified purchases you make on Thank you.
Paid Advertisements

Nov. 29, 2023