Salvation Mountain: Leonard Knight
Pester had a cabin in Palm Canyon and another next to a hot spring in Chino Canyon, where he lived during the summer months. He was the first "nature boy," putting on clothes, often a monk's robe, when curious canyon visitors came into view. He earned a living making canes from palm blossom stalks, fashioning Indian arrowheads, and selling postcards with a message urging proper diet and healthful living. Though he spent many hours roaming the canyons, he had an equal passion for reading. Years later a large library was discovered in his deserted cabin. In the 1920s, Pester moved from Palm Canyon but returned every weekend with his telescope, charging ten cents to look at the moon or at Lincoln's profile on the distant canyon wall.
Bill Pester at this palm log cabin in Palm Canyon, California, 1917. With his "lebensreform" philosophy, nudism and raw foods diet, he was one of the many German immigrants, who "invented" the hippie lifestyle more than half a century before the 1960s. He left Germany to avoid military service in 1906 at age 19, for a new life in America. (Photo Courtesy of Palm Springs Art Museum, Palm Springs, California)
"Rudolph Valentino, while working on a French Foreign Legion movie in the desert about 1920, is entertained by Peter Pester, the hermit of Palm Springs."