The Imperial Valley, located in the southeastern corner of California, was the setting for the book, The Winning of Barbara Worth, and was Wright's home
from 1907 to 1914. In my Collectibles book I stated that Harold Bell Wright lived in El Centro, now the county seat of
Imperial County, but that is not precisely correct. He lived just to
the east of El Centro in a little area he named Meloland.
Quentin Burke, Harold Bell Wright Society president, adds that Wright's
Tecolote Rancho at Meloland was on the outskirts of the town of Holtville, which
is where Wright received his mail, shopped, and sent his children to
Today, the road next to cultivated land where his house, studio, and
horse stables once stood is named Barbara Worth Road. Nearby is the Barbara Worth
Resort Country Club -- which was there in the early 1930's, but
not during Wright's
residency in the Imperial Valley."
The famous Barbara Worth
Hotel, built in downtown El Centro in 1915, burned to the ground
January 21, 1962, and all you can see
today is the vacant lot in the middle of town.
But the Imperial County
Historical Society has recently built next to
the community college a delightful historical museum that is worth
traveling to see. Harold Bell
Wright's son, Norman, and his children, recently transported to the museum the items
that were formerly displayed near his burial site in San Diego (cemetery
staff had moved them to a warehouse earlier). Included in the
display is the entire original manuscript of The Winning of
Barbara Worth, along with many personal items and family
Here you can see many of
Wright's books, plus a delightful collection of flatware, dishes,
and other items from the hotel. The museum
has recently increased the space for the Harold Bell Wright materials and
Quentin Burke and others have added many items, such as copies of movie
posters, produce labels, and even a stack of paper cups marked, "The
Barbara Worth Hotel," recently discovered, still in the dispenser, in
an old building in town. While you are there, ask the museum
curators about the palm trees which Wright planted around his house and which
have been transplanted to the campus next door to the museum. The
following photos of items in the Harold Bell Wright display were
taken by Dave Hadsell, who is plainly visible in the fourth photo
from the left, top row.)
A California Registered
Historical Landmark was installed and dedicated near the Holtville
home of Harold Bell Wright on April 27, 2002.
Click here for details and a
fascinating story by Milford Wayne Donaldson.
Imperial County Historical Society has also installed a large plaque in
front of the Barbara Worth Resort Country Club. It notes that Wright
lived near that location and comments on his importance to valley history.
issues of the Harold
Bell Wright Gazette for complete details. And do visit the
museum if you are anywhere near the Imperial Valley. Several very
high quality editions of "The Winning of Barbara Worth" have
been published in the Imperial Valley in recent years and some are still
available. Click here for details.
39, NO. 6 THE NATIVE SON - APRIL-MAY 2000
President Jim Riley dedicates a monument to Harold Bell Wright,
who lived 1/2 mile west of the site of this plaque in the Imperial
The plaque reads: "Harold Bell
Wright--Preacher-Writer-Outdoorsman, May 4, 1872-May 24, 1944. Harold Bell Wright rose from poverty to become 'America's
favorite author' for the first three decades of the 20th Century.
Many of his 19 books were best sellers and made into both silent
and later 'talkies'. They include 'The Winning of Barbara Worth,'
a novel set in the pioneering days of the reclamation project
which turned the desert into the fertile Imperial Valley. Self
supporting from the age of 12, Harold Wright lived and wrote on a
ranch he named 'El Tecolote,' a half mile west of this spot, from
1907 to 1915."
The dedication occurred on February 5, 2000. Standing at right is
JrPGP Richard Hoffmann.
From the web site of Native
Sons of the Golden West.