Laurie Lawlor:  Curriculum Connections
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    Curriculum Connections:
    Old Crump: The True Story of a Trip West

  • Answer/discuss the most valuable items that one might have taken on a trip across the desert. List those items and rank them in order of importance.
  • Use this book in conjunction with focus units on: "The Westward Movement in the United States," "Overland and Journeys to the Pacific," and a study of the "California Gold Rush Era."   (See links to booklists below.)

A Note about Rancho Camulos

When the four children rode Old Crump across Death Valley the first habitation they found was the original ranch house at Rancho Camulos.   Many people now visit the Rancho Camulos Museum.  In May 2004 Laurie Lawlor was invited to visit the museum and three local schools.  She also appeared at the Adventures for Kids Book Store in Ventura, California.  Maria Wren is a docent at the museum -- here is what she had to say about Old Crump and its connection to Rancho Camulos.
From Maria Wren --

I am a docent at Rancho Camulos, a National Historical Site in Ventura County, CA, that provides a fascinating and accurate picture of early California living.

This original land grant dates from 1839 and was opened to the public for tours three years ago.  Only two families since 1839--the del Valles and Rubels--have owned the property.  We have several buildings and gardens for viewing.  The 14-room adobe has been retrofitted since the earthquake in 1994 so it can be viewed inside although the furniture has not been replaced.  We also have the separate kitchen (cocina), chapel and fountain, brick winery and school house.  The docent council offers tours and field trips to children and schools studying California history.  The 1800 acres of Rancho Camulos are still being farmed with many of the same crops the del Valle family started about 1865, including seedling oranges, apricots, pomegranates, walnuts, and grapes.

We were delighted when [Laurie Lawlor's book] Old Crump was discovered last year.  We were even happier when we did a little sleuthing and found it really was a true story taken from Manley's Death Valley in '49.  Imagine our surprise when we read that four children rode an ox, Old Crump, across Death Valley and the first habitation they found was the original ranch house at Rancho Camulos.

It is a wonderful story to share with elementary kids when they come to Rancho Camulos for a visit.

We wish to thank Laurie Lawlor for talking to several classrooms in our schools in May 2004.  The children were all interested in her stories and how she started writing about everyday things she knew as a child.  I am sure she will be a real inspiration to many of them.  We want to encourage kids to learn and practice writing skills.

Rancho Camulos is located on State Highway 126 North of Los Angeles near Magic Mountain.  If you visit this area during the summer, please stop by for a tour any Wednesday or Saturday between 1 and 4 p.m..  And tell us you that you, too, are friends of Old Crump and Laurie Lawlor.

Marie Wren
Docent, Rancho Camulos

    Booklists for "The Westward Movement in the United States."
    • The Westward Movement and Children's Literature from Carol Hurst's Children's Literature Site.
    • Westward Movement -- This site is part of a larger site which compiles many history links in a number of categories. is a student generated links site that is reviewed by several staff members of Foothill High School, Palo Cedro, CA and more than a few university professors associated with the California North State History Social Science Project. The site is a prime research site for many university and public library systems.

Old Crump: The True Story of a Trip West. Illustrated by John Winch. (2002) Holiday House. ISBN: 0823416089. 32 pg. Picture Book/Historical Fiction.

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