Framed by majestic snow-capped mountains, a vast expanse of rolling sand dunes, sagebrush and cactus, the B-Bar-H Ranch was named for Hollywood mogul Lucienne Hubbard and his son-in-law Charles Bender. The men purchased the land from the Southern Pacific Land Company in 1927 and began promoting the natural hot mineral springs, soon becoming an invitation-only resort located just 10 miles northeast of Palm Springs.
The Ranch would become the center of high society activity and desert amusements. A gymkhana was free to the public, but a collection was taken up at the door with all proceeds going to the Palm Springs hospital fund. The gymkhana featured broomstick polo matches, girls egg race, children’s musical chairs, bareback and saddle races, jackpot calf roping, amateur calf stopping, stake races, rescue races and bell calf roping.
The western dances were a weekly affair. “Caller” Guy Merrill guided guests through the rigors of the Virginia Reel, a Spanish waltz, and “Take a Little Peek,” a favorite among square dance devotees.
The simple pleasures of a western resort, riding and relaxing in the fine winter weather, had been enough for decades to lure illustrious guests to drive in from Hollywood and parts further flung.
There is a multitude of ways to learn more about Palm Springs, which turned 82 in 2020. One of the more intriguing methods is by exploring the city’s history.
The Palm Springs Historical Society will share a story whose time and place corresponds with today. The Palm Springs Historical Society is located at 221 S. Palm Canyon Drive.
For more information, visit pshistoricalsociety.org.