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.
“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.”
I’d been through that exhibit courtyard behind the split rail fence many times before but couldn’t recall ever seeing a printing press among the old mining equipment, horse drawn wagons, and other antiques. Another look confirmed the Chuckwalla printing press was still AWOL. Back inside, the attendant pointed me to the two-dollar exhibit guide on the book rack.
The entry for item 12 read: “THIS PRINTING PRESS is the one used at the short-lived mining camp of Greenwater to print the Death Valley Chuck=Walla in 1907. ln its own words, the Chuck=Walla was ‘A Magazine for Men published on the desert at the brink of Death Valley, mixing the dope, cool from the mountains and hot from the desert, and withal putting out a concoction with which you can do as you damn please as soon as you have paid for it.’ The periodical suffered a premature demise after only six months of circulation when its office caught fire. With water in Greenwater selling for $8 per barrel, no one valued the maglet highly enough to put out the fire.”
This immediately brought to mind some news publications and broadcasters that I wouldn’t go out of my way to save today if their premises were ablaze, even given abundant cheap water. You can probably think of some yourself.
But back to Death Valley and the Chuckwalla. Here are a couple of the paper’s “you can do as you damn please” ads.
Photos from section IV of a 1981 National Park Service publication: Death Valley National Monument
Historic Resource Study: A History of Mining