August 25, 2013 —
Back side of the Rock Inn, 17539 Elizabeth Lake Road, Lake Hughes. The former hotel is at left, the current inn at right. The view is from the
insersection of Hill and Sunset trails.
History of The Rock Inn
After mustering out of the U.S. Army in 1907, Joel B. Hurd returned to his home state of Massachusetts, married and started a family.
The family migrated to California and to Lake Hughes in 1926. Hurd took a job managing a small grocery owned by B. Brannon and became Lake Hughes' postmaster, with the post office operated out of the store.
Lake Hughes had formerly been known as West Elizabeth Lake and until the 1920s was farming and cattle grazing country. In 1926, however, Pasadena homebuilder Clarence Austin bought 40 acres along the lake shore to develop as a resort of vacation cottages, which meant a growing population.
In April 1928, Hurd and Brannon's store, post office, gasoline station and a 15-room apartment building they had just built were destroyed by a fire. The South Antelope Valley Press reported the blaze apparently started when tar being heated on the roof caught fire.
The store merchandise was retrieved from the burning building and moved across the street, according to an interview with Hurd in the December 1962 Antelope Valley Spectator magazine. Hurd had his store open for business within four hours after the fire, the magazine said.
"When (Hurd) looks back on this event he laughs at the fact that the first thing that (his son) Joel saved from the fire was the eight ball from the poll room," the magazine article states. "After the experience of losing their building, the ... businessmen decided to built their next store out of stone."
Actor Paul Koslo, property owner since 1975.
The result was the Lake Hughes Trading Post, the now-famous Rock Inn, completed in 1929. Built of rock quarried in the Lake Hughes area, two stories tall with arched windows and doorways and a large stone fireplace, the Rock Inn was a store, post office and hotel. It also functioned as a bus station called a stage stop, although by the 1920s the valley had auto stages, not horse-drawn stages.
Hurd's sons, Joel Jr. and Chuck, ran the trading post after their father, according to Valley Press accounts, while the elder Hurd stayed as postmaster until 1951 or 1952. Lake Hughes' annual '49ers Day festival started in 1949 as a birthday party for the elder Hurd, organized by Austin.
After the end of World War II in 1945, business slowed, forcing the Hurd brothers to close the Rock Inn's hotel, according to the Valley Press. Records show they split the space on the second floor in two, and each lived in one half.
After the Hurds, Adrian and Delores "Dee" Shrout ran the Rock Inn.
In 1975, the property was purchased by the family of actor Paul Koslo (1944-2019). Koslo took sole ownership in 1979. Koslo renovated the building, reinforcing the rock structure and remodeling the second floor into bed-and-breakfast rooms.
While the stone building is owned by Koslo, the proprietor of the Rock Inn is Warren St. John. The inn is a popular weekend stop for motorcycle enthusiasts who come in for sandwiches, burgers, and something cold to wash them down with.
— The Rock Inn 2013