Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park

Meet the Death Valley ‘49ers

January 19, 2010, 11:27 am

An All-Volunteer Organization Supporting Death Valley National Park

The Death Valley ‘49ers, Inc. was organized in 1949 for the purpose of planning a pageant in Death Valley to celebrate California’s centennial and commemorate the Death Valley Wagon Train of 1849 and the 20 Mule Team Borax.  The event attracted more than 65,000 people. With the success of the pageant, the Board of Directors decided to create an annual event, on a smaller scale, to encourage people to come to Death Valley, which later became known as the Death Valley Encampment. Every year several thousand people attend the nearly weeklong encampment and the programs presented.

Programs include a major western art show, four wheel drive tours, musical entertainment by numerous western groups and individual entertainers, fiddle and picking contests, a period costume contest, horseshoe competition, gold panning, as well as interpretive talks about Death Valley and its history.

The organization also supports Death Valley National Park by assisting with projects, both financially and through volunteer labor. The Death Valley ‘49ers have assisted with many park projects, including the building of a park visitor center, a library/archives building, ranger stations and trails.

The ‘49ers also publish books about Death Valley, including an annual keepsake booklet, which is given to every member.

The organization is very proud of its scholarship program, which provides significant college scholarships to high school students within the Death Valley region. They also help support an educational program that brings elementary students into Death Valley for a desert camping experience.

Annual membership dues of $35 per couple support all of the above programs. It is the organization’s only source of income to support the costs of the encampment and supporting the park.

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