Sunday, November 19, 2017

Catalina Federal Honor Camp

Over the years I have visited four of the World War II Japanese Internment camps and learned about the shameful imprisonment of people just because they were of Japanese descent.  The four camps I have been to are Manzanar, California; Heart Mountain, Wyoming; Minidoka, Idaho; and Topaz, Utah.  I previously posted photos of Minidoka and Topaz on this blog.  Here is the story of another site where people from those camps were sent if they were “troublemakers”.

I just returned from visiting my son and his wife, Brian and Laura, in Tucson, Arizona and while there visited the remnants of a prison camp.  The Catalina Federal Honor Camp housed over 8000 prisoners between 1933 and the early 1950’s.  They were there to build the Catalina Highway up Mt. Lemmon, and among the prisoners were 46 Japanese draft resisters, conscientious objectors, and Gordon Hirabayashi, who defied the government relocation and turned himself in to the FBI.  He was convicted of a curfew violation and sentenced to 90 days in prison after fighting the charge all the way to the Supreme Court.

The prison was an honor camp without walls.  Painted white stones and strong warnings were all that kept the prisoners there.  Even so, the Japanese prisoners were transferred from internment camps in leg irons by armed guards.  Mr. Hirabayashi was the exception.  He hitchhiked to the camp.

The draft resisters were pardoned in 1947, and Gordon Hirabayashi’s conviction was overturned in 1987 when it was discovered that evidence in his favor had been withheld.  He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously in 2012.  After the war, the camp was used as a labor camp for juvenile offenders, then a youth rehabilitation center.  After it closed in 1973 the buildings were destroyed, and the site turned into a campground.  It is now the Gordon Hirabayashi Recreation Site in honor of its most famous prisoner. 

I am grateful to an old friend, Merry Lewis, for taking Linda and me to this historic site.  In a sense, this is a ghost town with nothing but walls and concrete slabs left where there used to be barracks, a mess hall, employee cottages, a baseball field, and many other buildings.

Left, Linda
Right, Merry

 Photos are copyrighted and must not be used without permission.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Museum of Clean Gallery

The Museum of Clean is a quirky, fun, family oriented museum in Pocatello, Idaho.  They have such diverse displays as antique pre-electric vacuum cleaners, the world's first motorized vacuum cleaner (which was horse-drawn), a chimney sweep exhibit, and a replica of Noah’s Ark in a state-of-the-art 74,000 square foot building.  They also have an art gallery which includes a rotating display by local artists.

Don Aslett is the founder of the museum.  He has written 40 books and completed over 6000 seminars, workshops, and TV filmings all about “clean.”  I spoke to him when I visited the museum a few months ago, and he said he would like to have Linda and me exhibit there.  I had forgotten all about it, when one day I got a phone call inviting us to hang our photos in November 2017.

So, Linda and I hung 24 photos in the art gallery at the museum for the month of November.  A few are shown here.  I would like to thank Don Aslett for the opportunity, and Museum director Brad Kisling for all his help getting us set up.  He could not have been friendlier or more helpful.  Just about everyone should enjoy a visit to this very unusual museum.

As usual, our photos are copyrighted and cannot be used without our permission.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Monarch Mine, Nevada

After leaving Sprucemont, Nevada (see the previous post), we continued up Spruce Mountain about two more miles.  The road got much rougher, although it was not nearly as difficult as we expected.  I did use four-wheel drive, and in one or two places low range, and was glad I recently added skid plates to my truck.

Our first view of the mine area included a few houses along a side road.  The area is very steep, with houses on different levels of the hillside.

Most of the buildings are frame houses, but there is one cabin made from massive logs that probably dates back to the earliest days of the mine, around 1899.

This is a true ghost town.  Many buildings are totally collapsed, and those that are still standing have a lot of damage.  Some look like they were nice at one time, but now the wallpaper is peeling and the ceilings coming down.  But, their positions high on the mountains had great views from the windows.

There is a huge crumbling ore bin right in the middle of the residences, and a mine shaft nearby, so miners didn’t have to go far to work.  The gigantic timbers were held together with massive nuts, bolts, and square washers.  Now many are gone, and others are beautifully rusty.

The Monarch Mine was a big producer of lead during World War I.  According to the USGS website, 

"About $200,000 worth up to 1902; 21,000 tons ore worth $475,000 from 1919 to 1921; more production through 1952. Total production was over $1,000,000 worth, including some zinc and copper."

This photo gives some idea of how steep the mountain is, and how houses were built on plots leveled out of the hillside.  We enjoyed exploring the townsite, but didn’t stay long because snow flurries started, and we were a long way from pavement.  The Spruce Mountain mining area was well worth the visit.

I hope you enjoy the photos, but please respect the copyrights and do not use them for any purpose without permission.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Sprucemont, Nevada

We were on our annual fall camping trip with plans to explore ghost towns in Montana.  Then the weather went bad and we decided to migrate south.  We spent a day in Wells, Nevada and searched for ghost towns in the Spruce Mountain mining district.

We were looking for Sprucemont, about 10 miles from the nearest paved road, and got into a maze of dirt roads on Spruce Mountain.  When the roads got worse we decided to turn around and look for another route, and I spotted the remains of this log cabin high on a nearby ridge.  It is an unusual double cabin, which makes me think it could have been part of a string of businesses along the town’s main street.  The other side of the cabin has collapsed, and most of the dirt roof is gone.

We looked uphill and saw other structures.  These were much newer frame buildings, which had all been vandalized, and a few had totally collapsed.  The weather was heavily overcast with a storm moving in, so the light wasn’t very good, but then the clouds broke, and I got a decent photo of this old house.

Sprucemont began about 1870 when several mines were started on Spruce Mountain.  By 1887 there were five saloons here, but just a year later, mines were closing and Sprucemont was nearly deserted.  In 1899 the Monarch Mining Company was started, and Sprucemont came to life, but was again nearly deserted by 1913.  In the 1930’s a third period of mining started, and continued through about 1952.  By 1961 the district had ceased all production.  This helps explain the different building styles we see at Sprucemont.  The big log cabin likely dates from the first or second era, and the frame buildings from the third.

The people who lived in Sprucemont had a million-dollar view of the East Humboldt range. The cloud shadows crossing the valley seemed to emphasize the immense space of the valley at the base of Spruce Mountain.

From here we continued up the mountain to find the Monarch Mine.  I will try to post that adventure in a few days.

Please remember, these photos are copyrighted.  I will allow them to be used for charitable purposes, but charge reasonable fees for personal use.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

St Charles Canyon, Idaho

This has been a strange year for fall color.  It seems that wherever I went I was too early, or too late, or the color just never got very good.  The one exception was St Charles Canyon, just a few miles from home.  I went there on a cold, stormy day with Bruce Gregory and Stephen Johnson who were visiting from California.

The mountain maples were incredible.  They had an amazing variety of colors ranging from yellow to red.  Most of the aspens hadn’t changed yet, so there was some green in the mix as well.

Blue Pond Spring is one of the most beautiful spots in St Charles Canyon, but moose have been known to chase people away from here.  On this rainy day, I had the pond to myself and enjoyed the willow reflections.

Some of the maples were yellow, making nice substitutes for the still green aspens.  They made a beautiful background for the white bark of this aspen.

The green aspen leaves contrasted with the brilliant maples, especially the red ones.

Raindrops looked great on incredibly red mountain maple leaves.

As we left the canyon we stopped to photograph one last scene where a line of maples climbed the canyon wall to the top.  I think the wet stormy weather had a lot to do with the amazing color, and St Charles Canyon was the best we saw this year.

Please respect copyright laws, and do not use my photos without permission.  I will give permission to use photos for educational and charitable purposes, but charge a small fee for personal use.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Bear Lake County Fair - After Dark

The Bear Lake County Fair in Montpelier, Idaho is always a wonderful event.  There are rodeos, entertainment, food booths, animals, rides, craft displays, and of course a big photography display.  But after dark the fair really comes to life, and the lights are a great opportunity for photographers.

Carnival photos are best just after sunset so there is a little light and color in the sky.  This Ferris wheel changes color, and if you change shutter speeds you can get anything from colorful spokes of light to a blurred circle in infinite variations.  This one was ½ second exposure.

This is the same Ferris wheel from the other side, with carnival game prizes in the corner.  This one was taken after the sky got totally dark, and the shutter speed was 1.3 seconds, resulting in an entirely different pattern.  To reduce camera shake, a tripod is a necessity and a remote shutter release or self timer also helps.  If your camera has image stabilization, turn it off while using the tripod.

This photo of entertainers Dave Anderson and Thatch Elmer was taken on the outdoor stage.  The lights were bright enough to take the photo without a tripod, but in order to pick up details in the light and shadow, three photos were bracketed two stops over and under normal, and combined in the computer using Photomatix Essentials.  The software did an amazing job removing blur caused by people moving.

This food booth photo on the midway was taken with a 2.5 second exposure.  It is fun to use these long exposures to blur moving people.  Everyone becomes anonymous using longer exposures.

Longer exposures can also be used to make abstract images.  This giant swing was exposed for 0.8 seconds, but as the dangling swings were being lowered I increased the exposure to 2.5 seconds to create the abstract image.

So, look for bright colors, movement, and lights to get unusual photos at the county fair.

Please note that my photos are copyrighted and must not be used without permission, and usually a small fee.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Bruneau Dunes State Park, Idaho

Bruneau Dunes State Park has become one of my favorite stopping places when traveling across Idaho. This year I used their excellent campground as a place to spend the night on my way to the John Day, Oregon area on my annual camping trip.
The spectacular dunes are a great place to take pictures when the sun gets low just before sunset.  People on top of this dune were sliding down the steep shadowed side as if it were snow.

One of the attractions is the 470 foot high largest single structured sand dune in North America.  There are a couple of ponds in the park that allow the rare opportunity to photograph dunes reflected in water, but this actually isn’t as good as it was several years ago because the beaches have become overgrown with trees and reeds.  Swimmers have kept a few passages open through the reeds.

The wind does amazing things with the sand.  What can cause such abrupt changes in the ripples?  The color of the sand changes from gray to rust as the sun gets low.

There are a few flowers on the dunes that cast long shadows in the afternoon light, like this nakedstem sunray.

The day ended with warm sunlight reflected in the lake from the big dune.  If you decide to photograph these dunes, I suggest putting your camera away until about an hour before sunset when the color gets richer and the shadows and ripples in the sand create wonderful patterns.

Please respect my copyright and do not use these photos without permission.  I often donate usage for charitable purposes, but will charge a small fee for personal or commercial use.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Painted Hills, Oregon

John Day Fossil Beds National Monument has three separate units.  One of these, the Painted Hills, near Mitchell, Oregon, is famous for its amazing hills striped with color.  It was the highlight of my 47 th camping trip in 36 years with Bruce Gregory and Stephen Johnson.
During the day the colors can appear fairly muted, but as the sun gets low the stripes become brighter, as in this photo from the overlook trail.

The wonderful stripes and contours are perfect for landscape abstracts with a long lens.  These two photos from the overlook trail show how the colors can change with the time of day.  The colors often become golden just before sunset.

Another beautiful location is the perfectly formed Red Hill, where we also found prairie clover.

The soil here is very delicate and would be damaged by walking on it, so most areas are fenced off.  In the Painted Cove area a boardwalk allows visitors to see the textures and shapes close up.

And finally, here is a five shot panorama taken from the overlook trail just as afternoon shadows start to touch the hills.

I hope you enjoy these photos, but please remember that they are copyrighted and must not be used without permission, and usually payment of a small fee.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Shoshone Falls, Idaho

The Niagara of the West.  That’s  one name for Shoshone Falls, but Niagara Falls is “just” 167 feet high, and Shoshone Falls is 212 feet high, and 900 feet across.  Shoshone Falls is sort of a seasonal waterfall on the Snake River near Twin Falls, Idaho.  In the summer it usually has a vastly reduced flow because water upstream is diverted for irrigation, but in the spring it can be booming after a wet winter.  This year we had a huge snow pack, and the falls are roaring.
We visited the falls on a very windy day, and the spray was soaking the observation area of the beautiful city park.  Photography from the nearest observation areas was nearly impossible because the lens was wet as soon as the cover was removed, so this photo was taken a bit further away.  Even so, I had to wait for a moment when the mist was at a minimum and hurry to take the picture.

The mist and bright sun combined for wonderful rainbows.

The rainbow framed the Snake River Canyon when Linda and I returned the following morning.  We hoped that there would be less wind, therefore less mist, and drier conditions for photography.  Wrong, but at least we saw the rainbow from a different angle because we were so much earlier in the day.
If anything, the wind was worse, and instead of the observation area being soaked, the entire city park was drenched.   The best we could do was remove the lens cover, take a quick shot or two, and slap the cover back on.  Then find someplace dry to clean the lens.  Then try again. 
 Even seen through the mist, the power of these magnificent falls was astonishing.  If you go, try to be there between April and July during a wet year.

Please note that these photos are copyrighted and cannot be used without permission.  We usually request a small payment depending on usage.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Steam Engine # 844

The Union Pacific railroad has done a good job restoring and maintaining some of its historic equipment, and today one of its steam engines made an excursion run through western Wyoming and southeast Idaho.  Steam engine # 844 was the last one built for Union Pacific.
Here the train approaches Rocky Point, southwest of Montpelier, Idaho.  It was on a trip from Cheyenne, Wyoming to Boise, Idaho and back.

The train crossed the Bear River at Rocky Point.

 Union Pacific took delivery of 844, known as the “Living Legend”, in 1944 to be used as a high speed passenger engine.  It pulled several famous trains, including the Overland Limited, Los Angeles Limited, Portland Rose, and Challenger.

As the train left Montpelier, Idaho it passed under a signal Bridge.

After diesels took over, 844 was used for freight service from 1957 to 1959, and in 1960 it was saved from scrapping to be used as a goodwill ambassador for Union Pacific.  The engine has run hundreds of thousands of miles.

Leaving the Bear Lake Valley, near Montpelier, Idaho

The statistics on steam engine 844 are staggering.  The engine and tender weigh 454 tons and are just over 114 feet long.  The water capacity is 23,500 gallons, and it runs on 6,200 gallons of oil.  The drive wheels are 80 inches in diameter.  The top speed is 120 mph (190 km/h) and it generates 4,500 horsepower.

When this engine blasts by a few feet away, it shakes the earth, and the whistle is ear-shattering. What an experience!

Please be aware that these photos are copyrighted and must not be used without permission and usually a small payment.