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Where is Death Valley Dodge?

Where is Death Valley Dodge?

1915: Death Valley Dodge at unknown location during 1,000-mile drive around the California desert, including Death Valley. Do you recognize the rock formations?

Buried in the Death Valley historical files is this image taken at an unknown location. While the location may be in Death Valley, it could be anywhere along a nearly 1,000-mile route driven in 1915. If you recognize the location, please leave your answer in the comments below.

This photo was published in the Oct. 23, 1938, Los Angeles Times. The caption said: “The famous ‘Death Valley Dodge’ on first trip in 1915.”

The June 15, 1915 Los Angeles Times reported on that first trip:

After daring death many times on their 1,000-mile drive through the Death Valley region, the little party of three who took the “Death Valley Dodge” on that most strenuous journey, have returned safely to Los Angeles.

They established a record to be proud of and one which Harold L. Arnold, the local distributor for Dodge Bros’ motor cars, will use as a criterion upon which to base his year’s contract with Dodge Bros. of Detroit.

“When the ‘Death Valley Dodge’ rolled into Los Angeles last week,” said Mr. Arnold, ” covered with alkali dust and bearing its desert trophies of Gila monsters, rattlesnakes and side-winder skins, but with a perfect score after negotiating 967 miles of the most desperate desert going to be found in America, I knew I had a real automobile.”…

Engineer O.K. Parker, who carried out the trip for Mr. Arnold, says that the route they followed is the most strenuous one he had ever negotiated, and he ought to know, for Parker has driven over almost all the roads west of Denver and is well known as one of the best authorities on the desert roads of the Southwest….

Parker reports that the “Death Valley Dodge” climbed eight mountain ranges on this trip, the summits and intervening valleys having elections as follows: Up to Cajon Pass, 3916 feet above sea level; then down to Mojave Sink near Barstow, 1920 feet; then up to Blue Green Summit in the Mojave Range, 3620 feet; again down to Coolgardie Basin 1956 feet and up to Granite Well Summit at Pilot Knob, 4812 feet. Again down to Ballarat Sink, 1016 feet, and up Wild Rose Canyon to Skidoo Summit in the Panamint Range to 5259 feet elevation.

From Skidoo Summit the route was down Emigrant Canyon to 49 feet below sea-level on Death Valley floor, every foot through deep blow sand and great sand dunes, then up a 16 percent slope through malapal rocks and sand to Daylight Summit at 4,307 feet elevation. Searchlight Summit was negotiated at 4,500 feet elevation, and the Colorado Basin crossed at only 800 feet above sea-level, then up again to Goff’s Ridge at 3,256 feet and down to Cadis at 700 feet. Several intermediate lava ridges were crossed between Cadiz and Barstow, and then the Dodge again climbed to 3916 feet at Cajon Pass on its way back to Los Angeles.

A different photo of Death Valley Dodge – with similar rock formations – accompanied this June 13, 1915, Los Angeles Times story. But alas, the location was not identified.

Over the next two years, the Los Angeles Times reported on additional Death Valley Dodge road trips into the California, Arizona and Nevada deserts.

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  1. September 25, 2013, 2:06 pm

    It's princess rock near palm springs.

    By: cccrafty
  2. September 25, 2013, 8:06 pm

    Thanks for your help. I would love to see a photo of the location today!


    By: Scott Harrison
  3. September 25, 2013, 9:58 pm

    Somewhere along the "National Old Trails" route…

    By: m4surveys@gmail,com
  4. September 27, 2013, 1:03 am

    Thanks for the link to Google Books. This photo of Death Valley Dodge was published in the June 22, 1916 edition of Motor Age. The caption reported: “Tufa cliffs dominate the topography along the National Old Trails route.”

    In California, this route went from Needles to Los Angeles via Barstow, Victorville and San Bernardino. After some realignments, the route became U.S. Route 66.

    Thanks for the additional clues.

    Scott Harrison

    By: Scott Harrison

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