Framework

Capturing the world through photography, video and multimedia

Dec. 1935: The Los Angeles Times scout car, a Richfield powered 1936 Terraplane on Volcanic Drive in Death Valley. This photo was published in the Dec. 22, 1935 Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

March, 1939: Great Natural Bridge in Death Valley. The car is a 1939 Chrysler Imperial sedan. This photo was published in the April 2, 1939 Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

Dec. 1935: Ben Holland, attendant of Richfield service station opposite Furnace Creek Inn, Death Vally, fills tank of 1936 Terraplane sedan with Richfield Hi-Octane gasoline at the end of trip from Los Angeles. The car averaged 24.24 miles to the gallon on the trip. This photo was published in the Dec. 15, 1935 Los Angeles Times Automotive page.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

Dec. 1935: Los Angeles Times scout car, a Richfield powered 1936 Terraplane car at Gower Gulch with Death Valley in the background. This photo was published in the Dec. 22, 1935 Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

1936 photo of a Twenty Mule Team crossing the salt beds of Death Valley. The team was traveling from Mojave into the valley over the original route used 50 years earlier. The wagons were originals. A similar photo was published in the Dec. 3, 1936 Los Angeles Times. This photo was published in the Nov. 27, 1949 Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

Dec. 1939: Panamint George, left, at his Indian Ranch in Panamint Valley east of Death Valley. This photo by Outdoor Editor Lynn J. Rogers was published in the Dec. 3, 1939 Los Angeles Times accompanying his travel story on Death Valley. Man on right is unidentified.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Lynn J. Rogers / Los Angeles Times

Oct. 1935: The Los Angeles Times scout car, a Graham six sedan at Resting Springs Ranch during tour of Death Valley. This photo was published in the Oct. 27, 1935 Los Angeles Times. Resting Springs is near Tecopa.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

1949: Scotty's castle in Death Valley. The car is a 1949 Chevrolet Skyline de luxe 4-door sedan used by the Los Angeles Times staff for tour of Death Valley. This photo was published in the March 6, 1949 Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

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Times’ Scout Party trips to Death Valley

In the 1930s and ’40s, Los Angeles Times Outdoor Editor Lynn J. Rogers wrote the “Scout Party” travelogue column on day trips around Southern California. Death Valley was one of his favorite locations.

In his Dec. 22, 1935, article, “Spinning Wheels Bring Death Valley Closer,” Rogers reported:

Spinning wheels today, but –

Eighty-six years ago Christmas Day, the “forty-niners” who toiled over the pass between the Funeral Range and the Black Mountains, thence down Furnace Creek wash to the heart of Death Valley, with creaking wagon wheels and groaning oxen, had no thought that someday the area would be sought out by thousands and thousands. The “forty-niners” only thought was but to escape from the perils that than existed.

Fifty years ago huge wagons were hauling borax out of Death Valley.

Twenty years ago men were beginning to visit Death Valley by motor car, but went equipped as though for a crossing of Inner Mongolia or Chinese Turkestan.

Ten years ago motorists were reaching out into Death Valley in ever-increasing numbers, but roads were nothing to brag about, and one still went “self-contained,” with a full cargo of supplies. The effete took tents; the others “just slept out.”

Today?

Well, today we take it as a matter of course, but to those pioneers still living who began borax development work in the Death Valley region as early as 1879, it must seem nothing less than a miracle that today one can drive to the heart of Death Valley by automobile from Los Angeles in complete comfort, and without any effort to speak of, in eight hours or less. And that when one arrives, he arrives not amidst complete desolation, but at a luxurious inn affording every modern convenience, or at a camp where there are such things as well-equipped cabins with bath.

Indeed, the old-timers must sigh when they contemplate the fact that the motorists of today can cover in ten or fifteen minutes of “spinning wheels” what it took the ‘forty-niners’ or the twenty-mule teams a solid day of toil to get over. …

These eight photos were published with columns by Lynn J. Rogers. While only one is credited to him, I suspect most were taken by Rogers, an accomplished photographer. In researching for this post, I found several short Los Angeles Times articles announcing photo exhibits of Kodachrome images taken by Rogers.

This earlier 1915 image Where is Death Valley Dodge? was published in a Lynn J. Rogers column of Oct. 23, 1938.

scott.harrison@latimes.com

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2 Comments

  1. January 23, 2015, 10:20 am

    Great photos! I’ve been to every location in the photo series and it’s a treat to see these historical photos.

    Just so modern folks don’t get disoriented by their GPS, the Panamint Valley is *west* of Death Valley. A side trip to Telescope Peak (and charcoal kilns) provides a wonderful panorama of Death Valley after visits to sites like Devil’s Racetrack (the phenomenon has been revealed!), Marble Canyon (why rocks bend) and Ubehebe Crater.

    By: bruno marr
  2. September 1, 2015, 9:51 am

    Love these pictures! I've been to Death Valley several times, but never during its "undeveloped" period. This shows what a vision the developers must have had, to bring order out of chaos there.

    By: Guest

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