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Vidal, California

Vidal, California is a small unincorporated community located in southeastern California, in San Bernardino County on U.S. Route 95, 38 miles (61 km) north of Blythe, California, United States and 55 miles (89 km) south of Needles. The town is 22 miles (35 km) west of the townsite of Earp, California and 23 miles (37 km) west of Parker, Arizona on State Highway 62. The community, which is two miles (3 km) north of the Riverside County line, lies at an elevation of 812 feet (247 m) above sea level. Vidal is 221 miles (356 km) from the city (and county seat) of San Bernardino, making it the second-farthest town in the county from the county seat behind Earp. Wyatt Earp spent the last winters of his life in Vidal, working claims of gold and copper he found nearby; the aforementioned townsite of Earp is located in and around those claims.

The Boy in the Box

During the late 1960s, Vidal was home to Solar Lodge, a society located four miles (6 km) south of the town center. The Lodge owned all of the businesses in the town during their time there, but left the area after several members were arrested for child abuse, in a case that became famous as "The Boy in the Box".

By 1967, the Solar Lodge owned several small mansions, a gas station, a bookstore, and a desert property called Solar Ranch. As of 1969, the Lodge operated a bookstore in Blythe, California; operated Solar Ranch near Vidal, California; and owned a gas station in Vidal with a cafe, motel, bar, and house.

"The Boy in the Box" is an infamous case from 1969, in which Georgina "Jean" Brayton and her husband were charged with mistreating a six-year-old boy of a lodge member. The boy was allegedly chained to the inside of a 6'x6' box for 56 days. As a matter of fact, it was only for 10 hours.

To avoid prosecution, several lodge officers fled California. As a result, the defendants launched a publicity campaign alleging police and court conspired against them.

In addition to these members, others were found guilty and sentenced to three to six months in prison. The charges against several others were dismissed as well.

The group leader, Brayton, pleaded no contest after her husband and she were arrested. As a result, she was sentenced to three years of probation and fined $500.

Train Derailment

On February 5, 1979, a Santa Fe Railway train derailed 17 cars in the middle out of 74 cars two miles (3.2 km) west of Vidal. According to the railroad, five tankers ruptured. The spillage of residual fuel oil was disposed of through burning, and the railroad intended to send pumps to the site.


Average temperatures in Vidal range in January from 41 F (5 C) to 67 F (19 C), and July average temperatures range from 78 F (26 C) to a high of 108 F (42 C). The highest temperature ever recorded in Vidal was in 1905, when the temperature reached 127 F (53 C). The lowest recorded temperature was in 1911, when a low of 9 F (-13 C) was recorded.

The part of the Sonoran Desert where Vidal is located receives very little rainfall in a normal year. On average, Vidal Junction receives just 5.17 inches (131 mm) of precipitation per year, with July and January averaging just 0.27 and 0.87 inches (22 mm), respectively.

Wyatt Earp Cabin

Vidal Junction, Ca

Earp, Ca

Parker, Az

Santa Fe Railway

Subsection 322Ba
Cadiz - Vidal Valleys

This subsection includes mostly alluvial fans and basin floors in Cadiz, Palen, Rice, and Vidal Valleys and the lower part of Ward Valley. It includes Iron Mountain and hills that stick up through the alluvial plains in the valleys. The climate is very hot and arid.

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