Desert Homestead Province
Desert Homestead is a province of the Republic of Molossia located in western San Bernardino County, about 31 km (19 mi) northeast of the town of Yucca Valley, California. Desert Homestead is exactly five acres in size and is open low desert, with mostly sand, scrub brush and creosote bushes. It lies on a low ridge not far from Yucca Valley and Joshua Tree, California, and is near to the Twenty-nine Palms Marine Corps Base and Joshua Tree National Monument.
The Mojave Desert was one of the last places in the continental United States where the federal government granted free homesteads to anyone who was willing to improve the land. Five-acre parcels were deeded by the federal government under the Small Tract Act of 1938, one of the last of the government's homestead acts. The government's goal was to distribute 457,000 acres of desert that the Bureau of Land Management deemed disposable, most of it in California. By the time the act was repealed in 1976, about 36% of the land was privately owned. The rest is federally protected desert.
Ownership by the Baugh family
In the early 1950's, James E. Baugh, patriarch of the Baugh Family and grandfather of the President Kevin Baugh, obtained 5 acres of desert land under the auspices of the Small Tract Act. Under amendments to the act, homesteaders were granted a deed only if they built a structure with dimensions not less than 12 by 16 ft in size. No water or power was required.
In accordance with these requirements, and with the assistance of his brother, Bob, he proceeded to construct a small building in the forbidding desert, a homestead "shack". The shack was never much to look at, four walls, a roof, a door and some windows, all installed over time as money and materials allowed. This done, Mr. Baugh had fulfilled the requirements of the Act. In spite of only sporadic subsequent visits, the property was nevertheless fully granted to him in 1988. The shack, however, has long since been dismantled, probably by desert dwellers seeking building materials for their own shacks. Nothing remains of the shack today but the concrete slab.
Status as monument of Molossia
In addition to being a province of Molossia, Desert Homestead is also a Molossian National Monument. It is intended to evoke not only the memory of the last Homestead Act of the United States, but also the memory of James E. Baugh, who had a dream to create a small legacy for his family in the desert.
Governor of Desert Homestead
In 2008, prior to reclaiming the throne of Westarctica, and prior to becoming the King of Calsahara, Grand Duke Travis was asked by President Baugh to serve Molossia as Governor of Desert Homestead. This request was made due to the Grand Duke's close proximity to Desert Homestead (Los Angeles is only a three hour drive away) as well as the President's desire to see Travis return to the world of micronations.
During his tenure as Governor, Travis made occasional visits to the province and laid the foundation for Baugh Terrace, a small terrace made from ornamented paving tiles approximately three square feet in area. Baugh Terrace originally had an open square in the center where a cactus was to be planted. However, upon visiting the province some years later, President Baugh found the cactus had vanished, so instead utilized the terrace as a convenient place to plant the Molossian flag.
After becoming King of Calsahara, Travis stepped down from his position as Governor of Desert Homestead, and the province was returned to the direct leadership of President Baugh.
Encounter with wild dogs
Shortly after laying the foundation of Baugh Terrace during his inaugural visit to Desert Homestead, Travis was nearly torn apart by a pack of wild dogs that happened to be roaming through the surrounding desert wilderness and caught him unawares. Fortunately, he was able to seek shelter in his vehicle and waited until the pack of dogs lost interest in him and pursued their meal in another locale.
Grand Duke Travis' Visit in 2018
On 9 December 2018, Grand Duke Travis paid an informal visit to Desert Homestead for a day of quiet relaxation on Molossia's sovereign soil. Upon arrival, he discovered that the paving stones that comprise Baugh Terrace and the solar lights that light the terrace had all been stolen by desert dwelling thieves. His Royal Highness was quite distressed and immediately called President Baugh to report the theft. The President concluded it was bound to happen eventually and the two leaders discussed the possibility of sinking the pavers in concrete on a future visit.
During this visit, the Grand Duke conducted a thorough inspection tour of the province and repaired the pile of rocks that served as a border marker on the northwest corner of the province. He also examined some rock specimens in an attempt to determine the mineral composition of the rocks in the surrounding desert. Several high quality pieces of quartz were discovered that had been tumbled smooth by the occasional desert floods over the years.