Recently, during my annual camping trip to Death Valley National Park, I found the following description hanging amidst the clutter of photos and other historical items on the wall of the Borax Museum at the Furnace Creek Ranch Resort.
Front cover of the Chuckwalla. The newspaper was printed on butcher paper, so the archive copy did not reproduce well.
“The Death Valley Chuckwalla was published at Greenwater during the copper boom days of 1906 -07. The editor and publisher was C.B. Glasscock, later to become a well-known Western writer. Nothing remains of Greenwater today; but one of the Chuckwalla printing presses stands in the museum courtyard.” Continue reading
I’m beginning to think the answer to the question posed in my title is “no.” At least in the West within a thousand miles of LA. After leaving Movie Flats in the Alabama Hills, the lovely but surreal setting of the Trona Pinnacles became my next camping destination. The pinnacles are located on the playa of Searles Dry Lake in the Searles Valley, just one valley west of Death Valley National Park in this harsh basin and range country. If you read my earlier post on the Bennett-Arcan wagon train party’s 1849 escape from Death Valley, it might interest you to know that another party became trapped in Death Valley about the same time. The Jayhawkers abandoned their wagons as well and walked out by way of Searles Valley. They acted to save themselves from a situation of their own making, so they were only heroes in a limited way. Yet even this marginal heroism beat what followed after this place too became a popular filming location, like Movie Flats. The cameras here weren’t shooting good guys shooting outlaws and Indians. The cinematography was of a different type.
Riding off into the sunrise at Movie Flats
I just spent a couple of days camping in and hiking through hero country. No, it wasn’t a battlefield. And yet it was. If that sounds contradictory, it should become clear shortly. It is a princely place if you’re drawn to southwest high desert country like I am. This tract of land is situated near Lone Pine, California and is in the Alabama Hills, a name which has nothing at all to do with Alabama. The area has it all: sun, sagebrush, cactus, canyons, and jumbles of huge golden boulders. If that isn’t enough, topping it off is the grand mountain vista backdrop of Mt. Whitney and its surrounding high Sierra peaks. I’d better confess right here that I’m not the first to notice the ultra-western-ness of these features. The Hollywood movie industry noticed it 90 years ago. Continue reading
Western history photos in Wall Drug Backyard
I’m on a vacation driving trip so I’ll keep this short. As I write, the driving happens to be across South Dakota, a state that is a mecca for highway billboards. You know—the tourist-trap type informing you of the mystery spot or the fun cave. Drive the state east to west on I-90 and it won’t take you 300 miles to become aware Wall Drug has 5 cent coffee, free ice water, and homemade pies and breakfast rolls. Wall Drug has been in business so long that its signs have become icons and there are many, many competing signs along the route. But I digress. If you’re like me, by the time you finally reach exit 109 and the town of Wall, you’ll be torn. Should I get sucked in by the advertising or do I drive on? Continue reading