Father John J. Crowley (1891-1940)

Text and picture excerpts from the
"Desert Padre: The Life and Writings of Father John J. Crowley"
by Joan Brooks, unless otherwise indicated.

See USE NOTICE on Home Page.

The Crowley Family
The Crowley family at Father Fred Crowley's ordination in 1934.
L to R: (seated) Sister Petra, Sister Josephine, Sister Paula, Mrs. Nora Hansen.
L to R: (standing) Rev. John J. Crowley, Rev. Fred Crowley, Rev. Thomas Lyne (uncle from Ireland), Rev. George Crowley, S.J. and Frank M. Crowley.
(Lou Pracchia photo)

Tales of the Desert Padre [pdf]
by William Webster

Desert Padre

Some men long for the cities crowds, and some for the pagan land,
And some would toil in the wilderness where the heart is allied with the hand.
One such man came to the choice of roads, and he chose a forbidding field.
His only arms was a friendly heart, and the love of God was his shield.
He dwells where the far-flung Sierra looks down on a land of death,
He knows the chill of the lofty peaks and the heat of the desert's breath.
To mankind in pain, though storm winds howl intrepid he goes to their side.
Though weary and worn will he bring them hope 'In whose breasts all hope has died.
Men call him the Desert Padre, as he carries his message of love;
And he seems to have learned from the silences and the vast star-decked heavens above.
In his presence men feel only reverence though he speaks with a common touch;
His praises are free as his reprimands and he never demands too much.
His mountains have taught him a steadiness, his desert has drilled him in peace;
Sunrises have pictured glories of God and the sunsets, divine surcease.
And we who stand on the outer edge of his all-enveloping love;
May learn just a bit from this desert priest of the strength he draws from above.
And we'll point to him as the years roll by, when we write with a failing pen;
As one who walked in the steps of Christ, and loved all of his fellow men.
And his life shall stand as a monument by the trails that his feet have trod,
For we know that this padre of desert wastes shall sit close to the throne of God.

David Bromley, Bishop, California, 1939.

crowley1John J. Crowley as a Holy Cross College graduate. 1915 yearbook photo.
(Holy Cross College archive photo)

Father Crowley wrote under the pen name of "Inyokel" in the more than 200 "Sage and Tumbleweed" columns which he published from August of 1934 through March of 1940.

Father Crowley and William Boyd (Hopalong Cassidy) depositing water gourd at the Bank of America, Lone Pine during the "Wedding of the Waters."
(Maturango Museum photo)


The Story Behind Sage and Tumbleweed [pdf]
by Inyokel

Father Crowley at the Movies
These images represent just a handful of the many celebrities to which Fr. Crowley extended his warm hearted kindness to, and a few of the pictures they starred in which were filmed in Owens Valley during the time Fr. Crowley spent in Lone Pine.

"The Cowboy and the Lady"
Gary Cooper
[photo courtesy of the Ravin' Maven]

 lost horizon

"Charge of the Light Brigade"
Errol Flynn


Perhaps Father Crowley's talents as a producer and showman explain why he related so well to the personnel of the movie industry when they came to Lone Pine to shot films in the nearby Alabama Hills. During the years that Father Crowley was in Lone Pine, such famous movies as Gunga Din, Lives of the Bengal Lancers, Oil for the Lamps of China, Charge of the Light Brigade, Rhythm on the Range, and numerous westerns featuring Ken Maynard, John Wayne, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers and William Boyd *(Hopalong Cassidy) were filmed. The song "Donkey Serenade" from the movie Firefly was first practiced on the piano in the Santa Rosa parish hall.
(Joan Books)

Still shots from the filming of Gunga Din in the Alabama Hills of Lone Pine.

Gunga Din

Gunga Din

Gunga Din

Cary Grant
"Gunga Din"
Cary Grant

W. Boyd
William Boyd - aka. "Hopalong Cassidy"

D. Fairbanks
"Gunga Din"
Douglas Fairbanks Jr.

Thoughts on Movie Production in Lone Pine [pdf]
by Fr. John J. Crowley

 cowboy & lady
[photo courtesy of the Ravin' Maven]

light brigade

Willie A. Chalfant  

Manzanar Town  

Norman Clyde  

More Fr. John J. Crowley


Lone Pine-to-Porterville High Sierra Road 


 Slim Randal's "Night Ride"



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This page was last updated on 18 June 2015