Traversing the west

By the spring of 1959 I had finished all my Master’s Degree classwork, so under Gordon Bath’s direction I ran ‘my’ USGS mobile ground magnetometer over much of western United States.

In southeast California we traversed the length of Death Valley, in the searing heat of late spring.  We began at the the 4200-foot high pass east of the valley,  down to Beatty Junction, 170 feet below sea level.  Then we went southeast in the valley bottom to Furnace Creek.  Backtracking, we traversed from Beatty Junction across the valley, up to the 5000 foot elevation of the mountain pass west of the valley.

We continued west, traversing the Panamint valley to Panamint Springs resort, where we spent the night.   The Panamint Valley is a desert, but the resort had electricity and running water. It drew water from a mountain spring, which the previous owners had dammed, high up the ridge behind the resort.  A high pressure pipe carried water from the dam down to a small hydroelectric generator, which ran day and night, supplying electricity.  Besides its use in the motel, the water irrigated a garden, with tropical plants and palm trees.

The resort owner was an excellent piano player and entertainer.

We were the only guests. I don’t really know how he could make a go of the business, but he loved it out there.

From Panamint Springs we traversed west up dirt roads through a mountain pass into the  Inyo valley, continuing west past Lone Pine, California to the Mount Whitney Portal.

We traversed the length of the central valley of California as we headed north through Sacramento.

In northern California we drove east  into the Sierra Nevada mountains as far as we had roads, then we traversed west across the width of central California, from the Mother Lode gold country through Ukiah to the Pacific coast.

We traversed through the northern California forests, where we saw a logging truck struggle under a massive load of one log, 32 feet long.

Then we moved on to the roads of Oregon. In Oregon, magnetic material in the roadbeds made our traverse data useless.

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