Exactly 90 years ago, a group of young friends took a road trip to Death Valley in 1926. The photo album, with detailed captions, a written record in the form of diary entries, ended up in the California archives for me to find all these years later. The identity of the diarist and the photographer are unknown. But I feel like I know them. We’ve both travelled the same road, passing the same desert landmarks, homesteads and ghost towns nearly a century apart, and I feel like we took this trip together, exploring the alien landscape, documenting as we went. There’s something very comforting and reassuring to me about knowing how similar an experience can be despite the decades between us…
Photo opp at the entrance to the Silver King mine.
The Railway Depot in the ghost town of Rhyolite, Nevada. This building was constructed of stone but time is slowly doing its work as may be noticed on the sign facing the machines.
Throughout the diary, they call the cars “machines”.
The insides of these buildings were littered with glass. Evidently there were lots of brick throwers that came through Rhyolite after it was deserted. The National Bank Building in the middle.
The back porch of the Bottle House. Bottles were free and many of them. Other building materials were scarce. There were about 30 or more Saloons in Rhyolite.
The rubble of the old Bottle House. The weather here is so dry that lots of the bottles still had the labels on them. Note the workings in the hills; a Bottle House which has taken a tumble.
The Church of Rhyolite, the only building that had all of its windows intact.
When I visited in 2013, all the wooden buildings on the Main Street were gone. Only the skeletons of the stone builldings remained.
Calico. Mr. and Mrs. John Lane the sole survivors of a population of over 3000. Mr. Lane came in 1884 here he met the lady who became Mrs. Lane. They married and have been here ever since.
Rhyolite is surrounded by land that is full of gold but the main vein is yet to be found, the hills show many try-outs.
A Tin Can House: Building material was so scarce in Rhyolite that most anything went, here an enterprising citizen made himself a house of the cans.
The Hotel building had fine stairways in it, all rotting away for lack of care.
Our first water after leaving, Atolia was named Granite Springs.
What the sign said: Owl Springs–Death Valley–Saratoga Springs 45 m, Silver Lake 42, Shoshone 5, Automobile Club, So. Meet Mrs.Perrelet and Miss Muth
We dine on Sweet Bread, Jan. 9, 1926.
The mouth of Superstitious Canyon.
The Swimming Pool Furnace Creek Ranch.
Our camp in the canyon below Calico.
Mrs. Perrelet, the fliver & Miss Muth.
The Mushroom rock or the Devil’s Throne: The rock on the next page is composed of lava of unusual hardness as it has not disintegrated like the surroundings. We passed through miles of country composed of nothing but lava black and glistening in the sun.
The lowest spot in U.S.A.
We pass Ashford mills — A deserted hope — Thousands of dollars of equipment left here. This mill was of the roller type and the building has a 75 horsepower engine in it in the foreground out of sight of the cameras eye is a big truck the rubber slowly rotting away. Mr Billyon and A. E. Dimock sitting on top; Ashford Mills.
We explore Superstitious Canyon. The peak in the background is of soft white mineral into which a person sinks above the shoe tops.