Bend City was one of the first mining towns to be established in the Eastern Sierra. It was also the site of the first bridge in Inyo County to span the Owens River. Today, all that remains of Bend City is piles of melted adobe bricks that served as building materials for the homes and businesses of its residents. Visitors will see large scattered stones, glass fragments and heavy nails and bars forged from iron.
Kearsarge is one of the nearest present day towns, providing a glimpse into the past of the Bend City landscape.
During its prime, Bend City and neighboring towns joined together to establish a new California county, named “Coso.” The county was never formally recognized due to late filing of legal paperwork. The people of Bend City began leaving town, seeking the more fertile land on the west side of the Owens Valley. Pauite Indian disturbances, the loss of their opportunity to create a separately identified government, and finally the devastation caused by the 1872 Lone Pine earthquake led to Bend City vanishing from the landscape.
Damage from the quake was so severe, it changed the course of the Owens River, creating no further need for the bridge crossing. The Adobe brick homes toppled during the earthquake. Harsh, dry conditions, little water and ongoing Indian hostilities, provided little incentive for anyone to keep the town alive.
The Bend City No. 299 California Historical Landmark is located along Masourka Canyon Road, 4.6 miles outside of Independence.
Inyo means “dwelling place of great spirit” in Paiute Native American language. Inyo County has many “greats.” Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the continental United States and Death Valley, the lowest spot in the Western Hemisphere, are both within Inyo’s boundaries. Great earthquakes have left their mark in recent history, changing the course of the Owens River and exposing ancient sedimentary rock.