A group of students from a Victorville school emphasizing community-based instruction received a hands-on tour of the Hesperia Old Town Museum Friday morning.


Fifteen students from Mojave Ridge Academy, which is located near Bear Valley Road and Industrial Boulevard in Victorville, learned about Hesperia by viewing museum displays, trying their luck at stone-grinding corn kernels and listening to colorful historical tales by museum curator Gary "Old Town Griz" Drylie.


"Everybody's history is important," said Drylie, who works at a Fontana steel plant when he's not in his "Griz" persona. "So we're going to cover some of the history of Hesperia."


Drylie talked briefly on a number of topics including world famous boxer (and a Hesperia fixture after he left boxing) Jack Dempsey, water delivery from Deep Creek into town, the Hesperia Hotel, town founder Joseph Widney, Route 66, and Hesperia's potato fields.


Drylie explained that Hesperia Lake was originally called Lake Rotobo Trout Farm, and he handed out postcards of the now defunct Hesperia Hotel.


"We've got things here that go back 100 years," he said.


He also talked about the meaning of singer-songwriter F.X. McDonald's "Headin' For Hesperia" song while it played in the background.


"That's an old railroad term," Drylie explained about the lyric "I'm tellin' ya, Mack / I'm ballin' the jack / I'm headin' for Hesperia."


Drylie also announced that he was giving an autographed copy of his book, "Hesperia: Images of America," to the class.


"I wrote this because I love Hesperia," Drylie said. "But I'm giving it because you earned it."


The Hesperia Old Town Museum, whch is managed by the Hesperia Recreation and Park District, is located at 16367 Main St., Hesperia. Hours are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the first Saturday of every month. The facility is open for special events by appointment only.


For more information, email Gary "Old Town Griz" Drylie at oldtowngriz@verizon.net.