Death Valley Road Trip in 1926 (EXCLUSIVE)

Miners camp and School House at Ryan, California. Pacific Crest Borax Co.

I was recently contacted by a gentleman whose aunt had traveled to Death Valley from Los Angeles in 1926. He told me that she often spoke of the trip in fondness, despite the constant repairs of the wooden automobile tires. After his aunt’s passing, the original photographs from the trip were passed down to him. He offered to send them to me so that they may be shared with my readers.

I scanned the collection of 40 images, including a few post card images, many of which have a hand written description on the back.

Upon inspection of the images I was surprised to find that they are an extension of the “Death Valley Automobile Collection,” which is part of a UC Berkley Bancroft collection. There are a few duplicates from their published collection, but many new, never before seen photographs.

Without further adieu.

 

Miners camp and School House at Ryan, California. Pacific Crest Borax Co.

Miners camp and School House at Ryan, California. Pacific Crest Borax Co.

 

Pacific Coast Borax Co.'s mines atop of mountain at Ryan, Ca.

Pacific Coast Borax Co.’s mines atop of mountain at Ryan, Ca.

 

Showing narrow gauge r.r. skirting the mountain at Ryan, Cal. (20 Mule Team Borax Works)

Showing narrow gauge r.r. skirting the mountain at Ryan, Cal. (20 Mule Team Borax Works)

 

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The “road” over the Devils Golf Course.

 

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Southern edge of Death Valley. Burros abandoned by miners.

 

This is not snow, but borax and other alkali crystallized into fantastically shaped pinnacles.

This is not snow, but borax and other alkali crystallized into fantastically shaped pinnacles.

 

Near Cave Springs

Near Cave Springs

 

A short cut around to Mormon Point. A good idea of the roads we had to traverse after leaving Barstow.

A short cut around to Mormon Point. A good idea of the roads we had to traverse after leaving Barstow.

 

Cave Springs. Mine entrance now used as a garage.

Cave Springs. Mine entrance now used as a garage.

 

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Superstition Canyon about 1 1/2 miles from Furnace Creek Ranch.

 

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Leaving Superstition Canyon, Mount Whitney in the distance.

 

Grave with crude grave marker of '93 (1893) with horse bones.

Grave with crude grave marker of ’93 (1893) with horse bones.

 

Confidence Mill and mine abandoned many years ago by the Mormons for lack of water. Panamint Mountains in the background.

Confidence Mill and mine abandoned many years ago by the Mormons for lack of water. Panamint Mountains in the background.

 

Just the "road" in the valley.

Just the “road” in the valley.

 

Mushroom Rock - located in Death Valley about four miles from Furnace Creek Wash.

Mushroom Rock – located in Death Valley about four miles from Furnace Creek Wash.

 

Taking stock at Bennett's Well - a watering hole in the valley. 2 ft. to the rear is geological marker - 276 ft.

Taking stock at Bennett’s Well – a watering hole in the valley. 2 ft. to the rear is geological marker – 276 ft.

 

Bennett's Well

Bennett’s Well

 

The 8 x 14 school house at Furnace Creek.

The 8 x 14 school-house at Furnace Creek.

 

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The two-mile “Devils” Golf Course – it took over an hour to navigate these borax salt pinnacles.

 

Near Cave Springs - Pointing to Death Valley. Note the 12 mile river wash road into the valley. Funeral Mountains straight ahead.

Near Cave Springs – Pointing to Death Valley. Note the 12 mile river wash road into the valley. Funeral Mountains straight ahead.

 

A good view of the Panamints, piercing the clouds. The camera man is about 500 ft. below the side walks of Los Angeles.

A good view of the Panamints, piercing the clouds. The camera man is about 500 ft. below the side walks of Los Angeles.

 

Furnace Creek Ranch, the only green spot in the valley and the only settlement (Indians). The US thermometer having register 134 degrees here.

Furnace Creek Ranch, the only green spot in the valley and the only settlement (Indians).
The US thermometer having register 134 degrees here.

 

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Ranch houses at Furnace Creek Ranch.

 

"Bicycle Lake" near Garlic Springs. Smooth as glass.

“Bicycle Lake” near Garlic Springs. Smooth as glass.

 

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Camp on the desert near Lancaster. Cactus, sage, brush, and Joshua Trees.

 

Just pulled out of the floor of the valley for a noon-day lunch.

Just pulled out of the floor of the valley for a noon-day lunch.

 

Hand drawn map of Death Valley, on the back of a bank deposit slip.

Hand drawn map of Death Valley, on the back of a bank deposit slip.

 

Front of the bank deposit slip with hand drawn Death Valley map.

Front of the bank deposit slip with hand drawn Death Valley map.

 

 

The following photographs I believe to have all been taken in the vicinity of Red Rock Canyon (California). Most of these photographs contain only a date of 2/22/26 written across the back.

Petrified Forest District, east of Red Rock Canyon.

Petrified Forest District, east of Red Rock Canyon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The last of the images are from post cards collected on the trip.

 

 

 

 

 

About the author

Jim Mattern

Jim is a scapegoat for the NPS, an author, adventurer, photographer, radio personality, guide, and location scout. His interests lie in Native American and cultural sites, ghost towns, mines, and natural wonders in the American Deserts.

  • .J.

    Love this post!

  • David Taylor

    That was fun.

  • Jack Brown

    I have been going to Death Valley & Panamint Valley since about 1970. My family & friends go there every year now but so much has changed,especially me!