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Posts Tagged ‘vintage travel photos’

With a depth of nearly 2,000 feet Crater Lake in the Oregon Cascades is one of the deepest lakes in the world. In terms of average depth, it is fourth.  After a earth rumbling explosion and then collapse of 12,000 foot Mt. Mazama some 7,000 years ago, the lake filled with prodigious snow melt. It is now in a state of hydrologic balance.

Crater is also one of the most pristine of lakes, with remarkable clarity. Established in 1902 as one of the earliest national parks, it’s pretty much pollution free. And thankfully  the Park Service intends to keep it that way.

A lot of natural wonders are called jewels of this or that. But Crater Lake is surely the jewel of jewels. Like an opal, the color of its waters migrate as the sun and atmosphere change, all set in a deep facet of whitish volcanic cliffs streaked with black igneous rock, some rising over 2,000 feet above the lake surface. Sun rise, high noon, late in the day, clouds or clear skies, the colors are what? Sky blue azure, deepest cerulean blue, palest magenta, dark agate, silver in rippling and glinting reflections, even a bland gray under high clouds, red and gold at sunrise and sunset, mild rose to purple blue as evening falls across a mysterious void 6,000 feet above the world.

Crater Lake presents exhilarating mountain beauty at its most intense. Millions of photos have been taken over many years, years of depression and prosperity, war and peace, hope and fear, and the lake has survived intact. The record below spans some seventy-five years and three generations, from film to digital photography. Hopefully little will change in the next  seventy-five. But Crater Lake, because of its purity and uniqueness, is a frightfully good place to watch the growing impacts of climate change.

Whitebark Pine, the picturesque icon of the higher altitudes of Crater Lake National Park, is being decimated. A major factor is the mountain pine beetle, which proliferates as winter low temperatures rise and which, over time, can kill a tree. The Whitebark Pine is a “foundational species”, on which many other species, plant and animal, depend. Together with an onslaught of white pine blister rust, Whitebark Pine is on the way to extinction. Tiny carbon atoms may be the destruction of Crater Lake’s ecosystem, and thereby the lake itself as we know it.  And in truth, we all know where those atoms come from.

SRE

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Coast to Coast: Vintage Travel in North America by Antony Shugaar, Catherine Donzel and Marc Walter. Vendome Press, New York, New York. 2009. 320 pp.

I think we’ve both recovered from our first extended Amtrak voyage.

So…would I do it again? Absolutely. Would I recommend you do it? Absolutely. With two caveats: First, be sure you want the trip to be part of the vacation (read: you’re not going to get there on time) and second, if you’re going overnight, get a sleeper car.

Coast to Coast courtesy of Vendome Press

That said, it’s been fun to armchair travel with Coast to Coast: Vintage Travel in North America, by Antony Shugaar. It’s a large format, coffee table style book crammed full of old photos, maps, menus and other memorabilia which chronicles what looks to be a far more charming time for cross country travel. There are photos of people crossing Mt. Rainier’s glacier in 1910, dining in splendor in West Palm Beach and bear watching in Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo. Granted while the photos of stagecoaches and rutted dirt streets don’t seem quite so romantic, the railroads and ocean liners look positively deluxe. There’s even a photo of a “sleeping berth” on a 1929 Junkers G-24 airplane. Interspersed are quotes and essays from some of America’s greatest writers and travelers. It’s a great way to See America even if you can’t leave home.

What Train Sleeping Cars Used to Look Like courtesy of Vendome Press

Should you be interested in those fabulous Works Progress Administration (WPA) National Parks posters you see throughout Coast to Coast take a look at www.rangerdoug.com/home. Seasonal Park Ranger Doug Leen has spent over twenty years tracking down and meticulously recreating the original 1939 posters which, when the project ended in 1941, by and large disappeared. Commissioned in part to urge Americans to see these wonderful national treasures, these “re-mastered” classics of poster art (he’s also created other contemporary posters in the same style for National Parks not covered in the 1939 series) remind us of a different era. And yet they still speak volumes about the value of our Parks system because we can still visit the scenes these posters capture and see that they have remained as intended—preserved, unspoiled, undeveloped, almost 75 years later.

Contemporary Poster courtesy of Doug Leen

1939 Zion Poster courtesy of Doug Leen

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