For 17 years, from 1930 to 1947, poet, artist, and author Marshal South and his family lived on Ghost Mountain—a remote, waterless, windswept mountaintop in Blair Valley on the western edge of the Colorado Desert, now part of the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Over a period of nine of those years, South chronicled his family’s controversial primitive and natural lifestyle through monthly articles written for Desert Magazine. His articles were the reality entertainment of the day—a sort of early version of Survivor with thousands of readers awaiting the next installment.
Join us on Wednesday, June 15th at 7 pm for our next “History Talks!” Lecture! Author and Historian Diana Lindsay will delve into the backstory of this fascinating book and share insight into the South Family’s life on the remote Ghost Mountain as told to her by Rider South, the son of Marshal South.
Marshal South wrote with lyric quality, painting word pictures that only a poet or artist could. He wrote with passion about the desert, its beauty and natural history, the desert’s healthful qualities, its silence and beauty, and he praised its early inhabitants and their lifestyle. He advocated a return to simplicity and a close relationship with nature.
In his lifetime Marshal wrote over 50 poems, 30 short stories and essays, 8 novels, and 102 articles and poems in Desert Magazine. His works were published in Australia, Great Britain, and the United States. He was also the poet laureate of Oceanside and received praise for his poems from Theodore Roosevelt.
Diana Lindsay is the editor and has written the foreword for Marshal South and the Ghost Mountain Chronicles: An Experiment in Primitive Living. The book was named “Best Regional Book” at the San Diego Book Awards and also “Best Book of the Year” by the Outdoor Writers Association of California when it was first released in 2005. The book contains all of South’s articles originally published in Desert Magazine from 1939 to 1948, some of his poetry, and monthly poems published in the magazine written by Tanya South. As a trained historian, Diana has ferreted out the unknown background of Marshal South and has told his never-before-known story with the publication of this book. She is the author of over a dozen award-winning books and is the co-author of the area guidebook Anza-Borrego Desert Region (6th edition 2018, Wilderness Press). Diana has a companion book entitled Marshal South Rides Again that was published in 2013 that includes two of Marshal South’s novels involving the Anza-Borrego area. The foreword on this book provides more information about South as an artist and writer.