John H. Lubken - A Lone Pine Pioneer

All black & white photos and history of John Lubken taken from the April 1983 edition of "The Album."
[courtesy of Rich McCutchan]
[photos by Bettie Halamicek, text by Jane Fisher]



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L to R: John Lubken, Henrietta, Marie Lenore (Hollengren) Lubken, John August, Bernice (circa 1920)

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Augusta Marie Roeper Lubken
(John's mother"
 John Lubken, Inyo Country Supervisor and rancher was born on May 5th in 1876 in Lone Pine. He was the son of John Frederick and Augusta Marie Roeper Lubken. He married Marie Lenore Hollengren on June 17th 1902 and the two Owens Valley residents had three children: Bernice (July 9th, 1903), Henrietta Crist (December 31st, 1911), and John August (April 18th, 1917).

"My mother [John writes] came from near Berlin, Germany to Placerville in 1866. She came to this valley in 1869," Lubken wrote for the pioneer family publication Saaa of Inyo County. "My father came to the valley in 1862. He came to New York from Germany and then went on to Australia during the gold boom. He came back to New York then by way of the Isthmus of Panama to this valley. That was long before the Panama Canal was built. He married my mother in 1875 when she was 19." "My father homesteaded on George's Creek, then traded the homestead for a share of the Lone Pine Brewery, built by Louis Munsinger before the earthquake of 1872. John Myers, known as Hans Myers, bought Louis out and eventually my father traded his ranch for Myers interest and owned the whole thing. The malt mill in back of the brewery was a horse drawn mill. The horse would keep going as long as the barley hopper was full. Lone Pine Beer tasted a lot like Miller's High Life; it was the same kind of beer. When it got so he couldn't make a profit and he stopped brewing in 1894. After my father died, my mother sold the brewery to Skinner, who tore down the building."

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John Lubken (1897)

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John Lubken (1902)

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Marie Lenore Hollengren (1902)



"John H. Lubken"[pdf]
by Jane Fisher



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Henriettat Lubken (16 yr in 1927)
"I started milking cows when I was nine years old. I never tasted ice cream until I was about sixteen years old. I had one dish at Levi's in Independence and didn't have any more until I was grown. I was set to work and that's all I did was work. I could lift a 180 pound sack of potatoes onto a wagon when I was fifteen. My father would go along with four or five kegs of beer and take it up to Cerro Gordo. He made beer and every two days he would take 240 gallons and send it all up to the miners. He made lots of money. There were four saloons in Keeler and one at Swansea.

The farmers raised all kinds of vegetables, corn, potatoes, barley, and wheat. There was the Bell Mill on Oak Creek and another on Bishop Creek run by Kilpatricks. They made the flour and the housewives made the bread. There was an old bakery in Lone Pine that made bread in big pans, like milk pans, and sold it for 25 cents a loaf. When I was only ten, my Grandmama, my brother, and I would sell vegetables. My brother died when he was thirteen.

They also raised a lot of draft horses here. They were heavy horses that could pull, weighing sixteen to eighteen hundred pounds. They hitched 18 to 20 of them to the big stake bed wagons and hauled groceries to Mojave. It took from eight to ten days to make the trip.

People decided to run a boat across Owens Lake to help get the lumber from the mill high up in Cottonwood Canyon. They made lumber there and sent it down in a flume. Sometimes it would get stuck in the flume and stack high up in the air, and they would have to call the mill to shut off the water so they would fix it up again. Down at Owens Lake where the creek comes in, there was a dock running out in the lake to deep water. They would transfer the lumber to the boat and take it to Swansea. Swansea was then a thriving town, something like Lone Pine, with people scattered all along there. There was a pier coming from Swansea running far out into the lake, From there the lumber was taken to Cerro Gordo.

Cerro Gordo was a big mine, rich in silver and lead, with a lot of men, mostly Cornishmen. I have seen gold stacked high on the tables where they were gambling. They would play until one of the men won all the stack or until dark, sometimes all night.

There were six stores in Lone Pine and three in Independence. There were two in Keeler, owned by men who sold and traded dynamite. There were two mercantile stores in Darwin, and one saloon. John Burkhardt was a watchmaker in Lone Pine, and Bill Vaughn was a tailor. Shoemaker Pete made shoes and boots. I remember him making my father seven pairs of boots; he was the only who could fit him. After Pete died, my father got them in Independence but they weren't so good."

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John Lubken

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Bernice Lubken (18 yr)

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John Lubken working his ranch in Lone Pine

 

 Here are some pictures I took during a 2015 trip back up Lubken Road.
[The Pigmy Packer]

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View east towards the Eastern Crest of the Sierra after exiting Lubken Canyon

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Junction of Lubken Canyon Road at Horseshoe Meadows Road.

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Looking back towards the Inyo Mtns. on Lubken Road

Lubken Canyon Road
Lubken Canyon Road remains a favorite of mine. I spent many summer days driving the length of the road from U.S. 395 west to the Horseshoe Meadows road and Carrol Creek or north through the Alabama Hills to the Whitney Portal Road. Every summer Mt. Whitney Pack Trains would drive all of the stock from the Moffat Ranch, located north of Movie Flats, in the Alabama Hills, and from Whitney Portals down to the Elder Ranch/Corral, located on Lubken Road just as it exits the western end of the canyon. There we would shoe all of the stock in preparation for a summer of packing. Later in the summer we would drive all of the burros from Moffat ranch to the Elder for mane & tail trimming prior to being shipped out for use on the Sierra Club Burro Trips. Both drives were always a summer adventure since they involved 4 to 5 packers on horseback putting in several hours in the saddle as we drove the stock across 15 miles of sagebrush covered desert in and out of the Alabama Hills. Those were wonderful times back in the 1960s and '70s that none of use will ever forget. Tommy Jefferson was true and trustworthy friend and boss who taught us, amongst many things, about the care and value of good stock.

The Pigmy Packer


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Looking north across Lubken Ranch and the Alabama Hills



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All photo cards on this page courtesy of Rich McCutchan archives unless otherwise noted.

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Main Street (U.S. 395) Lone Pine, CA
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Main Street (U.S. 395) Lone Pine, CA
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Main Street (U.S. 395) Lone Pine, CA
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Main Street (U.S. 395) Lone Pine, CA
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Main Street (U.S. 395) Lone Pine, CA
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Owenyo Station on the Carson & Colorado RR
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Owenyo Station on the Carson & Colorado RR


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This page was last updated on 06 September 2015