Desert View Tower

Desert ViewTower

Desert View Tower

Climbing out of the desert on interstate 8 at the 3000 ft level a stone tower peers down at you. Taking the In-co-pah exit and traveling past the used machinery dealer you soon arrive at the tower. Built from stone on a stone base this structure dates to the 1920’s. It is listed as California historical landmark # 939.

Pre history

This site has several springs and was a favorite resting spot for the In-Co-Pah Indians in their journey across the mountains to lake Cahuila now known as The Salton Sea. The wind and weather carved caves sheltered them from the sun and the strong winds. Later during Pioneer days mule teams were based there to help the heavy covered wagons up the steep grade.

The 1920’s

Real estate developer Bert Vaughn, who built and owned the town of Jacumba, decided to create a tribute to pioneer days. Construction began in 1920 and the tower was completed in 1928.

The 1930’s

During the great depression in the 1930’s an out of work engineer named W. T. Radcliffe came to the tower. He liked the place and spent his time turning wind and weather carved rock into giant mythological creatures and animals. These marvels exist to this day and are called the park.

The 1940’s

During the war years of the second world war the tower was abandoned and fell into disrepair. After the war a former RAF fighter pilot, Dennis A. Newman came to the tower liked what he saw and bought the place. He started construction on a gift shop- museum that surrounded the base of the tower. The gift shop opened in 1950. Newman owned the tower for decades.

Present Day

The Desert Overlook Tower also known as The Desert View Tower is still alive and well. Part gift shop, part museum, part artist studio, the tower preserves it’s varied and colorful past. It is a great little place to observe the surrounding desert and a nice place to learn the early history of this part of California.