RILEYS CAMP, GEER CAMP, MOJAVE CROSS

NAME: Riley’s Camp, Geer Camp, and the Mojave Cross
COUNTY: San Bernardino
ROADS: 2WD
GRID: 1
CLIMATE: Mojave Desert Location. Hot summer.
BEST TIME TO VISIT: Not the summer.
COMMENTS: Off Cima Road between I-15 and Cima in the Mojave national Preserve. Riley's grave is more difficult to find.
REMAINS: Riley's Camp and Geer camp have buildings, some being preserved and restored.

John Riley Bembry was a World War I veteran, a medic in the US Army, and taught soldiers how to use explosives. This was a skill put to good use upon arriving in the Ivanpah Mountain Range in the late 1920s. Riley’s Camp sits in a picturesque portion of the Ivanpah Mountains. Several dirt roads traverse the area, and abandoned mines litter the mountain sides. In 1928 Riley placed claims for both the Boston No. 1 and Boston No. 2. In 1929 he added the Sunset #2 and the Sunset #3. In 1930 he placed a whopping nine claims; Elizabeth, Ross, Standard 2 F, Number 2 Standard, Standard 2B, Standard 2D, Standard 2E, Standard 2BB, and the Standard 2 CC. By the time of Riley’s death in 1984, he had placed 56 claims. The camp consists of his home, a small personal assay office, and a powder magazine for his dynamite. He had a pet badger that lived under his cabin for several years. In 1984, Riley passed at his daughter’s home in Norwalk. He was buried in this desert valley with over 100 people attending his funeral. The Mojave Veterans Cross was first erected by Bembry in 1934. The cross is located on Sunrise Rock, a granite outcropping adjacent to Cima Road about 12 miles south of Interstate 15, and 6 miles north of Cima, California The Cross was formerly on public land in the Mojave desert that was at the center of the Salazar v. Buono legal case before the U.S. Supreme Court. The cross had been maintained by volunteers and was reconstructed after being destroyed. It was boarded over after lower court rulings declared it illegal because of constitutional concerns. On the night of May 9–10, 2010, the cross was cut down by malicious vandals and stolen from its place on Sunrise Rock. National Park Service spokeswoman Linda Slater said a $125,000 reward has been offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the thieves. The VFW promised that the memorial would be rebuilt. "This was a legal fight that a vandal just made personal to 50 million veterans, military personnel and their families," said then VFW National Commander Thomas J. Tradewell. The cross was eventually found, over 500 miles away, in Half Moon Bay, California, in early November 2012. In April 2012, a land exchange to remove Sunrise Rock from the Mojave National Preserve was approved by the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. On Veterans Day, November 11, 2012, the cross was rededicated and the site is maintained on now private property by the Barstow VFW.

Submitted by: Bill Cook


Rileys Camp
Courtesy Bill Cook


Rileys Camp
Courtesy Bill Cook


Rileys Camp
Courtesy Bill Cook


Rileys Camp
Courtesy Bill Cook


Rileys Camp
Courtesy Bill Cook


Rileys Camp
Courtesy Bill Cook


Rileys Camp
Courtesy Bill Cook


Rileys Camp
Courtesy Bill Cook


Rileys Camp
Courtesy Bill Cook


Rileys Camp
Courtesy Bill Cook


Rileys Camp
Courtesy Bill Cook


Rileys Camp
Courtesy Bill Cook


Rileys Camp
Courtesy Bill Cook


Rileys Camp
Courtesy Bill Cook


Rileys Camp
Courtesy Bill Cook

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