Courtney Chauncey Julian

Courtney Chauncey Julian
C. C. Julian

Courtney Chauncey Julian, C. C. Julian, was a businessman and shameless promoter who’s business dealings forced him to flee to California for China. He is noteworthy in his dealing in Death Valley National Park for his promotion of the town of Leadfield. After numerous court battles, he fled to Shanghai, China where he is poisoned or committed suicide.

C.C. Julian launched a newspaper blitz promoting his Julian Petroleum Corporation in 1923. The promotional blitz formed the basis for a ponzi scheme for investment into the JPC. The scandal became known as the “Julian Pete Scandal”. By 1927, it is estimated that Julian sold four million dollars in stock, which was stolen from his investors. Others estimate the value of the scheme at over eight million.

Drama followed the man, as he received death threats, however the nature of this threat is never resolved. It was reported by the United Press on Jan 4, 1924, that gun shots are fired threw the windows of his $100,000.00 house in Hollywood.

Perhaps one of his wierdest altercations came with famed film star Charles Chaplin. Just weeks after the shooting, Julian literally bumped into a table where Chaplin was eating at Club Petrouschka in Hollywood. A fight ensured and Chaplin got the better of Julian and knocked him out.

As one would expect from a thief, Julian had assets seized, by Collector of Internal Revenue, of $250,000.00 in cash and securities for failure to file is earnings from 1919-1923. He is able to maintain his house because it is deeded by his wife.

Julian at the Western Lead Mine located in Leadfield, California - Photo Los Angeles Times
Julian at the Western Lead Mine located in Leadfield, California – Photo Los Angeles Times

The end of Julian Petroleum Corporation stated in 1925. Julian sold his interest in the company to Sheridan C. (S.C.) Lewis and Jacob Berman for the sum on $500,000.00. The following year the company merged with California-Eastern Oil Company. An internal audit revealed the company had issued 4,200,000 unauthorized shares of stock. On May 5, 1927, the Los Angeles Stock Exchange halted trading in Julian Petroleum.

In 1931, Julian was charged with conspiracy to commit fraud in Oklahoma. He jumped bail and fled to country for Shanghai, China. Courtney Chauncey Julian is found dead of suicide in March, 1934.

"The Last Days of C. C. Julian," Los Angeles Times, 29 Sept. 1935
“The Last Days of C. C. Julian,” Los Angeles Times, 29 Sept. 1935

This town was the brain child of C. C. Julian, who could have sold ice to an Eskimo. He wandered into Titus Canyon with money on his mind. He blasted some tunnels and liberally salted them with lead ore he had brought from Tonopah. Then he sat down and drew up some enticing, maps of the area. He moved the usually dry and never deep Amargosa River miles from its normal bed.

He drew pictures of ships steaming up the river hauling out the bountiful ore from his mines. Then he distributed handbills and lured Eastern promoters into investing money. Miners flocked in at the scent of a big strike and dug their hopeful holes. They built a few shacks. Julian was such a promoter he even conned the U. S. Government into building a post office here. 

Desert Magazine – 1971 – Betty J. Tucker


Western Wallflower (Erysimum capitatium)

A member of the mustard family, the Western Wallflower ( Erysimum capitatium ) is a brightly colored yellow flower which is quite common across the western United States, including Arizona, Utah and Nevada.. In European countries, the wallflower earned its name from a habit of growing on… you guess it, walls. More specifically stone, masonry or wooden fences. The name was transposed to the American species despite the fact the plants have no preference for walls.

Western Wallflower (Erysimum capitatium)
Western Wallflower (Erysimum capitatium)
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Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus)

A member of the cuckoo family, the long legged Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus) is an icon of the desert southwest in part to the artistic efforts of Warner Brothers and their animated series featuring “Wile E Coyote”. Road runners are aptly named and may reach a top speed of 26 mph on the ground. Anyone who attempts to stalk them will note their speed and agility as they effortlessly out distance the stalker.

Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus)
Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus)

The road runner is a larger bird than one might realize and typically is between 20 and 24 inches in length. The bird is typically between 10 and 12 inches in height and boasts a wing span on 17 to 24 inches. The upper body is a shade of brown with black streaks and may feature pink spots. This pattern helps break up the outline of the bird and helps provide camouflage. The lower body is commonly white or ran in appearance. The head features a prominent crest of brown features.

Despite the branding and name, the greater roadrunner is capable of flight, although it spends most of its time on the ground. This animal can be found at most elevations between -200 and 7500 feet and favors semi arid scrubland with scattered low lying vegetation. The bird spends its time hunting and stalking its prey. Once sighted prey is quickly run down by the fast legs of this peditor. Common prey items include spiders, insects, scorpions, mice, small birds and lizards and even rattlesnakes.

The greater roadrunner typically forms long pair bonds with its mate. Typically, clutches of 3 – 6 eggs are laid in the spring months. The nests of this bird are commonly found in low brush and cactus and are built by the male. Common with other cuckoos, the roadrunner are known to lay eggs in the nests of other birds, such as the raven.


Genus Geococcyx