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Lone Pine, California

Lone Pine
Census designated place
Main Street
Main Street
Location in Inyo County and the state of California
Location in Inyo County and the state of California
Lone Pine is located in USA
Lone Pine
Location in the United States
Country  United States
State  California
County Inyo
 • Total 19.215 sq mi (49.766 km2)
 • Land 19.034 sq mi (49.298 km2)
 • Water 0.181 sq mi (0.468 km2)  0.94%
Elevation[2] 3,727 ft (1,136 m)
Population (April 1, 2010)
 • Total 2,035
 • Density 110/sq mi (41/km2)
Time zone Pacific (UTC-8)
 • Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)
ZIP code 93545
Area codes 442/760
FIPS code 06-42580
GNIS feature ID 277545

Lone Pine is a census designated place (CDP) in Inyo County, California, United States.[2] Lone Pine is located 16 miles (26 km) south-southeast of Independence,[3] at an elevation of 3727 feet (1136 m).[2] The population was 2,035 at the 2010 census, up from 1,655 at the 2000 census. The town is located in the Owens Valley, near the Alabama Hills. From possible choices of urban, rural, and frontier, the Census Bureau identifies this area as "frontier". The local hospital, Southern Inyo Hospital, offers standby emergency services.[4] On March 26, 1872, the very large Lone Pine earthquake destroyed most of the town and killed 27 of its 250 to 300 residents.


  • History 1
  • Geography 2
  • Climate 3
  • Demographics 4
    • 2010 4.1
    • 2000 4.2
    • Lone Pine Indian Reservation 4.3
  • Tourism 5
    • Cultivation 5.1
    • Manzanar National Historic Site 5.2
    • Sierra Nevada 5.3
    • Film history at Lone Pine 5.4
    • Events 5.5
  • Culture 6
  • Government 7
  • Transportation 8
  • Education 9
  • See also 10
  • References 11
  • External links 12


The Paiute people inhabited the Owens Valley area from prehistoric times.[5] These early inhabitants are known to have established trading routes which extended to the Pacific Central Coast, delivering materials originating in the Owens Valley to such tribes as the Chumash.[6]

A cabin was built here during the winter of 1861–62.[3] A settlement developed over the following two years.[3] The Lone Pine post office opened in 1870.[3]

In 1864, a geological survey team from California discovered Mt. Whitney and named the peak after the team's leader, Josiah Whitney.[7] One member of the survey team, Clarence King, made two unsuccessful attempts at climbing the mountain. Returning in 1871, he summited what was then believed to be Mt. Whitney, but turned out to be Mt. Langley. Two years later, he returned and summited Mt. Whitney on September 19, 1873, only one month after the actual first ascent was made by three local fishermen, Charley Begole, Johnny Lucas, and Al Johnson, who reached the summit at noon on August 18, 1873.[7]

John Muir made his first ascent on October 21, 1873, becoming the first person to climb the mountain from the east via the Mountaineers Route.[7] Seeing the demand for an eastern trail to the summit, the residents of Lone Pine raised the necessary funds to finance a pack-train route up the east side, which was completed on July 22, 1904.[7] The trail was engineered by Lone Pine resident Gustave F. Marsh—much of the trail is still in use today. The lower portion of the trail from Lone Pine to Whitney Portal was named a National Historic Trail by the Smithsonian Institution.[7]

On March 16, 1872 at 2:30 am, Lone Pine experienced a violent earthquake that destroyed most of the town.[8] At the time, the town consisted of 80 buildings made of mud and adobe; only 20 structures were left standing.[8] As a result of the quake, which formed Diaz Lake, a total of 26 people lost their lives.[8] A mass grave located just north of town commemorates the site of the main fault.[8] One of the few remaining structures predating the earthquake is the 21-inch thick "Old Adobe Wall" located in the alley behind La Florista, a local flower shop.[8]

During the 1870s, Lone Pine was an important supply town for several nearby mining communities, including Kearsarge, Cerro Gordo, Keeler, Swansea, and Darwin.[9] The Cerro Gordo mine situated high in the Inyo Mountains was one of the most productive silver mines in California.[9] The silver was carried in ore buckets on a strong cable to Keeler, and then transported four miles northwest to smelter oven at Swanseas.[9] To supply the necessary building materials and fuel for these operations, a sawmill was constructed near Horseshoe Meadows by Colonel Sherman Stevens that produced wood for the smelters and the mines.[9] The wood was moved by flume to the valley, where it was burned in adobe kilns to make charcoal, which was then transported by steamships across Owens Lake to the smelters at Swansea, located about 12 miles south of Lone Pine.[9]

Railroads played a major role in the development of Lone Pine and the Owens Valley. In 1883, the Carson and Colorado Railway line was constructed from Belleville, Nevada, across the White Mountains to Benton, and then down into the Owens Valley where it ended in Keeler.[10] The arrival of the C&C rail line, with its engine "The Slim Princess", and the stagecoach in Keller had a major economic impact on the area. Twice a week, passengers arrived on the evening train, spent the night at the Lake View Hotel (later renamed the Hotel Keeler), and then took the stage the following morning to Mojave.[10] A short line to the north connected with the Virginia and Truckee Railroad line at Mound House, Nevada.[10]

In 1920, the history of Lone Pine was dramatically altered when a movie production company came to the Alabama Hills to make the silent film The Roundup.[11] Other companies soon discovered the scenic location, and in the coming decades, over 400 films, 100 television episodes, and countless commercials have used Lone Pine and the Alabama Hills as a film location.[11] Some of the notable films shot here in the 1920s and 1930s include Riders of the Purple Sage (1925) with Tom Mix, The Enchanted Hill (1926) with Jack Holt, Somewhere in Sonora (1927) with Ken Maynard, Blue Steel (1934) with John Wayne, Hop-Along Cassidy (1935) with William Boyd, The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936) with Errol Flynn, Oh, Susanna! (1936) with Gene Autry, Rhythm on the Range (1936) with Bing Crosby, The Cowboy and the Lady (1938) with Gary Cooper, Under Western Stars (1938) with Roy Rogers, and Gunga Din (1939) with Cary Grant.

In the coming decades, Lone Pine and the Alabama Hills continued to be used as the setting for Western films, including West of the Pecos (1945) with Robert Mitchum, Thunder Mountain (1947) with Tim Holt, The Gunfighter (1950) with Gregory Peck, The Nevadan (1950) with Randolph Scott, Bad Day at Black Rock (1955) with Spencer Tracy, Hell Bent for Leather (1960) with Audie Murphy, How the West Was Won (1962) with James Stewart, Nevada Smith (1966) with Steve McQueen, Joe Kidd (1972) with Clint Eastwood, Maverick (1994) with Mel Gibson, and The Lone Ranger (2013) with Johnny Depp. Through the years, non-Western films also used the unique landscape of the area, including Alfred Hitchcock's Saboteur (1942) with Robert Cummings, Samson and Delilah (1949) with Hedy Lamarr, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989) with William Shatner, Tremors (1990) with Kevin Bacon, The Postman (1997) with Kevin Costner, and Gladiator (2000) with Russell Crowe.

Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, President Roosevelt signed an executive order that required people of Japanese ancestry living along the Pacific coast to be placed into relocation camps.[12] One of these camps, Manzanar, was built 7 miles north of Lone Pine. Initially constructed as a temporary center, it soon became the first permanent relocation center in the United States.[12] Set on 6,000 acres of land, the Manzanar detention facility consisted of 36 blocks of wooden barracks confined within a one-square mile area. The facility included agricultural use areas, a reservoir, an airport, a cemetery, and a sewage treatment plant.[12] The camp was enclosed by barbed wire fences and secured by guard towers.[12]

The ten thousand Japanese American internees tried to establish some type of normal life, transforming the barracks by creating beautiful gardens and ponds and orchards.[12] Manzanar was the only relocation camp with an orphanage, caring for 101 children.[12][13] At the conclusion of the war in 1945, the camp was closed and many of the structures were sold at auction and removed. Some of the structures survived, however, and these, along with significant collections of photos, drawings, painting, and artifacts associated with Manzanar, became part of the Manzanar National Historic Site Interpretive Center.[12]


Lone Pine is situated in the Owens Valley with the picturesque Alabama Hills lying to the west. Their unique appearance has attracted many film companies over the years. The hills were named in 1862 by Southern sympathizers, commemorating the victories of the Confederate ship CSS Alabama.[14]

As the crow flies, Lone Pine is 80 miles due east of Fresno. However, there is no road crossing the Sierra Nevada to provide access from Lone Pine to Fresno. As a result, the closest accessible large city is Bakersfield, 160 miles away.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 19.2 square miles (49.8 km²), of which 19.0 square miles (49.3 km²) is land and 0.2 square mile (0.5 km²) (0.94%) is water.


Lone Pine and most of the Owens Valley have a high desert climate characterized by hot summers and cold winters. January temperatures range from the middle fifties to upper twenties. July temperatures range from the upper nineties to lower sixties. Low humidity is prevalent, with average annual precipitation averaging less than six inches (152 mm). Snowfall varies greatly from year to year, averaging only five inches annually. The nearest official National Weather Service cooperative weather station is in Independence where records date back to 1893.[15] The National Weather Service has added an automated weather station in Lone Pine, which provides observations on its website,[16]



The 2010 United States Census[17] reported that Lone Pine had a population of 2,035. The population density was 105.9 people per square mile (40.9/km²). The racial makeup of Lone Pine was 1,334 (65.6%) White, 6 (0.3%) Black, 205 (10.1%) Native American, 17 (0.8%) Asian, 1 (0.0%) Pacific Islander, 376 (18.5%) from other races, and 96 (4.7%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 694 persons (34.1%).

The Census reported that 1,972 people (96.9% of the population) lived in households, 0 (0%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 63 (3.1%) were institutionalized.

There were 831 households, out of which 254 (30.6%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 374 (45.0%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 95 (11.4%) had a female householder with no husband present, 46 (5.5%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 53 (6.4%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 5 (0.6%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 276 households (33.2%) were made up of individuals and 107 (12.9%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.37. There were 515 families (62.0% of all households); the average family size was 3.04.

The population was spread out with 492 people (24.2%) under the age of 18, 136 people (6.7%) aged 18 to 24, 442 people (21.7%) aged 25 to 44, 580 people (28.5%) aged 45 to 64, and 385 people (18.9%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41.9 years. For every 100 females there were 98.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.1 males.

There were 1,004 housing units at an average density of 52.3 per square mile (20.2/km²), of which 452 (54.4%) were owner-occupied, and 379 (45.6%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 2.6%; the rental vacancy rate was 7.1%. 1,030 people (50.6% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 942 people (46.3%) lived in rental housing units.


As of the census[18] of 2000, there were 1,655 people, 709 households, and 448 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 88.9 people per square mile (34.3/km²). There were 867 housing units at an average density of 46.6 per square mile (18.0/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 83.2% White, 0.1% Black or African American, 2.7% Native American, 1.0% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 8.1% from other races, and 4.9% from two or more races. 26.8% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 709 households out of which 29.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.4% were married couples living together, 10.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.8% were non-families. 32.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.29 and the average family size was 2.88.

In the CDP the population was spread out with 24.6% under the age of 18, 6.9% from 18 to 24, 22.5% from 25 to 44, 25.8% from 45 to 64, and 20.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43 years. For every 100 females there were 90.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.7 males.

The median income for a household in the CDP was $29,079, and the median income for a family was $35,800. Males had a median income of $30,813 versus $22,778 for females. The per capita income for the CDP was $16,262. About 16.5% of families and 20.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 30.9% of those under age 18 and 9.3% of those age 65 or over.

Lone Pine Indian Reservation

The Lone Pine Indian Reservation is home to Owens Valley Paiute and Shoshone members of the federally recognized tribe, the Paiute-Shoshone Indians of the Lone Pine Community of the Lone Pine Reservation.[19] The tribe traditionally lived in sedentary villages in the valley due to the suitable climate and abundant food supply. These people have been living here for several thousands of years. The reservation is along the south side of town on both sides of US395.[20][21]


Lone Pine Peak, just left of Mt. Whitney and the rest of the Sierra Nevada, dominates the views west of town

The town is home to an Interagency Visitor Center at SR136 and US395.[20]

Much of the local economy is based on tourism, as the town is between several major tourist destinations, such as Mount Whitney, Sequoia National Park, Kings Canyon National Park, Mammoth Mountain, Death Valley National Park, and Yosemite National Park; many motels line the main road through town.


Manzanar National Historic Site

The Manzanar National Historic Site (formerly the Manzanar War Relocation Center), a Japanese American internment camp during World War II, is located on Highway 395 north of Lone Pine and south of Independence. Manzanar (which means "apple orchard" in Spanish) is the best-known of the ten camps in which Japanese Americans, both citizens (including natural-born Americans) and resident aliens, were encamped during World War II. Manzanar has been identified as the best preserved of these camps by the United States National Park Service which maintains and is restoring the site as a U.S. National Historic Site.

Sierra Nevada

On the way to Whitney Portal and the Alabama Hills visitors will pass over the two Los Angeles Aqueducts, the First Los Angeles Aqueduct (completed 1913) by the LADWP and the Second Los Angeles Aqueduct (completed 1970). These aqueducts traditionally have supplied Los Angeles with about half its water, some 450,000 acre feet (560,000,000 m3) a year. Because groundwater pumping continues at a higher rate than the rate at which water recharges the aquifer, the result is a long-term trend of desertification in the Owens Valley. The Sierra Nevada range and the Inyo Mountains dominate the views from the town.

Film history at Lone Pine

The Lone Pine Film History Museum, supported by Beverly and Jim Rogers, highlights the area's frequent appearances in Hollywood feature films. The William Wellman, and actors John Wayne, Bing Crosby, Gene Autry, Barbara Stanwyck, and Jeff Bridges. The Whitney Portal road was used in the 1941 film High Sierra with Humphrey Bogart, which culminated with a shoot-out between Bogart's character and the police, at the foot of Mount Whitney. The 1955 classic Bad Day at Black Rock starring Spencer Tracy and Anne Francis was also filmed in and around the Lone Pine area.[22][23] Lone Pine is also the location of several scenes in Iron Man depicting Afghanistan filmed in 2008 and in the 2014 remake Godzilla as a temporary military forward operating base or FOB.

The Forum Theater is a theater-cafe that hosts live music, theater, and films on the weekends. The Lone Pine Film Festival[24] has been held every year since 1989 to celebrate the rich heritage that film makers have brought to the area over the years.

The Alabama Hills Recreation Area is directed by the Bureau of Land Management for public recreation.


From 1971 through 1981, Lone Pine was the annual site of the Lone Pine International Chess tournament. Winners of the Lone Pine tournament included world champion Tigran Petrosian, world championship finalist Viktor Korchnoi, and U.S. champions Arthur Bisguier, Walter Browne, and Larry Evans.



In the state legislature, Lone Pine is in the 8th Senate District, represented by Republican Tom Berryhill,[25] and the 26th Assembly District, represented by Republican Devon Mathis.[26]

Federally, Lone Pine is in California's 8th congressional district, represented by Republican Paul Cook.[27]


U.S. Route 395 makes up the main street in Lone Pine

Serving the area with a 4,000-foot (1,200 m) runway, Lone Pine Airport (FAA identifier: O26) is located about a mile southeast of town at .[28][29]

The community is located on U.S. Route 395 north of State Route 136. Owens Dry Lake is just over six miles (10 km) south of town on US395.[29]


Lone Pine has one high school, Lone Pine High School. It is located on the south end of town along HWY 395.

See also


  1. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files - Places - California".  
  2. ^ a b c "Lone Pine".  
  3. ^ a b c d Durham, David L. (1998). California's Geographic Names: A Gazetteer of Historic and Modern Names of the State. Clovis, Calif.: Word Dancer Press. p. 1179.  
  4. ^ Licensed Healthcare Facilities, 2006, California Department of Health Services. This area is defined as being in "California Health Service Area 12."
  5. ^ Bahr, Donald, The Owens Valley Epics, American Indian Culture and Research Journal, v31 n2 p41-68 (2007) American Indian Studies Center at UCLA, Los Angeles, CA
  6. ^ C. Michael Hogan, Los Osos Back Bay, Megalithic Portal, ed. Andy Burnham (2008) [3]
  7. ^ a b c d e "Mt. Whitney History". Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved April 27, 2014. 
  8. ^ a b c d e "The Great Earthquake of 1872". Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved April 27, 2014. 
  9. ^ a b c d e "History of Mining Around Lone Pine". Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved April 27, 2014. 
  10. ^ a b c "History of the Railroads in the Lone Pine Area". Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved April 27, 2014. 
  11. ^ a b "The Film Industry in the Lone Pine Area". Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved April 27, 2014. 
  12. ^ a b c d e f g "Manzanar". Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved April 27, 2014. 
  13. ^ Irwin, Catherine. "Manzanar Children's Village" Densho Encyclopedia (accessed 27 May 2014).
  14. ^ Your Pass to Play, pamphlet published by the Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce 2007
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ "2010 Census Interactive Population Search: CA - Lone Pine CDP". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved July 12, 2014. 
  18. ^ "American FactFinder".  
  19. ^ California Indians and Their Reservations. San Diego State University Library and Information Access. 2009 (retrieved 8 Dec 2009)
  20. ^ a b Inyo National Forest, California 1993, (Salt Lake City, Utah: Forest Service Geometronics Service Center, 1989 (GPO 1994-585-901).
  21. ^ U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer's web site lists California tribal lands.
  22. ^ "Lone Pine Film Database". Lone Pine Film History Museum. Retrieved June 1, 2012. 
  23. ^ Bann, Richard W. (2010). Lone Pine in the Movies: Celebrating Republic's 75th Anniversary. Little Rock: Riverwood Press.  
  24. ^ [4] Lone Pine Film Festival. Accessed July 11, 2007.
  25. ^ "Senators". State of California. Retrieved April 11, 2013. 
  26. ^ "Members Assembly". State of California. Retrieved April 11, 2013. 
  27. ^ "California's 8th Congressional District - Representatives & District Map". Civic Impulse, LLC. Retrieved April 11, 2013. 
  28. ^ U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration, Southwest Airport Facility Directory, (unknown year).
  29. ^ a b Lone Pine, California, 7.5-minute quadrangle, U.S. Geological Survey, 1994.

External links

  • Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce
  • BLM Alabama Hills Recreation Area website
  • Lone Pine Film History Museum
  • NPS Manzanar National Historic Site website
  • Lone Pine Gem and Mineral Society website
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