View Full Version : anybody recognize this place (probably California)?

13-Dec-2015, 07:42
Hi all,

I found some photos that my Dad shot in the early 1960s. Most had comments on the slide sleeve, but a few did not. My family and I managed to figure out where most of these places were, except for about 7 slides. I am attaching 2 of them in the hopes that somebody can recognize this place. I think that my Dad shot them in California in late September or early October 1962 (all of the other slides in that box date from that time). Based on where my Dad was traveling (Ridgecrest, California, up to Salem, Oregon). I think that these photos may be of Mono Lake, Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, or some lake in northern California (my parents drove from around Yosemite over to the coast and then headed up to Oregon). I would appreciate any help.



karl french
13-Dec-2015, 08:00
2nd one does look like Mono lake with the White Mountains in the background. Not so sure about the first with that solo peak in the background. Maybe Shasta.

Michael Clark
13-Dec-2015, 10:13
The first does look like Mt. Shasta to me, looking from the 5 frwy north around Weed maybe, by that little airport runway, there is a rest area on the south bound side. A second look I can't tell if there is water in the foreground or if it is a flat plane ? Looks like the camera position is higher than the flat plane or lake so it might not be where I think it is !!

Michael Clark
13-Dec-2015, 10:22
The second could be around Shasta Lake, with a higher water level than I have seen it lately.

13-Dec-2015, 10:47
My guess is Klamath Lake, in Southern Oregon along Hwy 97.

13-Dec-2015, 17:55
Thanks for your suggestions. These 2 photos show water, either a lake or large river. The other 5 or 6 photos do not clearly show water, but the snow capped mountains look similar.

Not sure if I5 existed in 1962? I will check on that...

I had not considered Klamath Lake. I will look at that as well.


Michael Clark
13-Dec-2015, 20:08
You might be right about I 5 not being built, hmm.

13-Dec-2015, 21:57
The first one at least is. I recognized the unique lines along the train tracks. Here's google maps street view from that side of the lake:


13-Dec-2015, 22:08
By the way, I always wondered about those funny power lines along the tracks. This is pure speculation but I think they might be a kind of warning system for if there has been a rockslide onto the tracks. A big rockslide would break the lines, so if you monitored a current running through them, it would provide a simple kind of alert if the circuit is broken. That section of highway is along a steep rocky cliff with lots of slides. That is pure speculation though!

14-Dec-2015, 06:29
Salt Lake City area with the kennecott smokestack in the second image?

14-Dec-2015, 08:48
You might be right about I 5 not being built, hmm

Even if I-5 was not there, interstate highways often follow existing highways with minor re-routes here and there. Google Earth is a handy way to check photo locations, if you have some idea where to start. I use it a lot to find locations for historic photos .

Jim Galli
14-Dec-2015, 13:10
My guess is Klamath Lake, in Southern Oregon along Hwy 97.My first thought also.

Drew Wiley
17-Dec-2015, 10:04
Two different spots, yet likely on the same drive. The first is of soggy salt flats in Nevada - don't know the exact name of the valley, but it's about an hour east
of Bridgeport. Went right past there earlier this year. The second shot is of Mono Lake from the road on the north side.

Drew Wiley
17-Dec-2015, 10:11
.... what made me think the first shot wasn't of Shasta from the Klamath road is that the extensive row of hills to the left looks distinctly granitic, basin and range
style, not volcanic like in the southern Cascades. I'm thinking Humboldt Peak in the background. It's pretty high and often snow covered in winter. You've probably
seen in frequently from a different direction.

Jerry Bodine
17-Dec-2015, 22:50
...Google Earth is a handy way to check photo locations...

I used Google Earth and found a shot posted that was complete with power lines. ID'd as Upper Klamath Lake from E. shoreline on Hwy 97 with Mt Shasta in background.

Here's a shot from the same direction in similar snow concitions that mimics the shape of the mtn shown in OP.


Jim Graves
18-Dec-2015, 00:52
My guess is that the first photo was taken on Hwy 97 about 16 miles North of Klamath Falls, about 1 mile South of Modoc Point. The view is almost due East across Upper Klamath Lake ... with Mt. McLaughlin being the snow-capped peak on the right.

Click to Enlarge
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Screen Capture from Google Earth next to OP's Original Photo

Drew Wiley
18-Dec-2015, 09:38
You could sure be right. I might have mistaken some snow patches on the lower hills for quartzite outcrops. Yet a string of power lines also parallels the road I
had in mind in Nevada, right at the edge of the sem-dry lakebed, and the shape of Humboldt Peak (?) from there in the background does resemble Mt McLauglin. I've had situations where I'm handling some ole Ambrotype or tintype taken with a miserably distorted lens, then going out trying to identify the exact location. It's fun. But the other photo is unquestionably Mono Lk.

Jerry Bodine
18-Dec-2015, 11:27
My guess is that the first photo was taken on Hwy 97 about 16 miles North of Klamath Falls, about 1 mile South of Modoc Point. The view is almost due East across Upper Klamath Lake ... with Mt. McLaughlin being the snow-capped peak on the right.

I have to agree with you about the peak. It is definitely Mt. McLoughlin (or McLaughlin?, I've found it spelled both ways), as seen looking west across the lake. Shasta is far too distant, looking south, to be seen in the OP photo which is likely captured with a wide angle lens.

Jim Graves
18-Dec-2015, 12:03
Jerry ... you're right ... the correct spelling is McLoughlin.

18-Dec-2015, 17:58
Thanks everyone for your help, especially Jim Graves.

My parents took a circuitous route from south Louisiana (where my parents got married and were living) up through Colorado (my Dad photographed Royal Gorge and Loveland Pass among other places), through a part of rural Utah and into New Mexico to Carlsbad Caverns (my Dad liked to explore caves when he was in the Army back in the late 50s), then over to Arizona to see the Petrified Forest, the Grand Canyon, and Prescott Valley. then up through China Lake to Ridgecrest where my Dad's brother was living. Then on up the north California and Oregon coast, and finally cut east to Salem, Oregon where his parents lived. My brother and sister and I have the photographs my Dad took of all these places. Unfortunately, my Dad was not much for documenting his photos, and my parents passed away many years ago. And as I said he had about 7 photos like the above 2 with no notes on the slide sleeve.

My sister says that our parents drove through Yosemite National Park on the way from Ridgecrest to the north California coast, so I suspected at least 1 of these photos was Mono Lake. So thanks for the confirmation about that.

I appreciate everybody's help. My parents, especially my Dad, were not much for talking about themselves or the past. So seeing these photos and knowing where they were taken helps me get to know my parents better.


Jim Graves
18-Dec-2015, 23:03
If your Dad was a caver I would expect that he toured some of the lava tubes on the east side of the Cascades. There are several near the highway not far north of Klamath Lake, just South of Bend where the family likely turned west to head to Salem.

19-Dec-2015, 10:19
"so I suspected at least 1 of these photos was Mono Lake. So thanks for the confirmation about that."

Jim Grave's nailed the scene from Klamath Lake with Mt McLoughlin in the background -- if you look at both of these images in Photoshop or something like that, the ridge lines and other features line up very closely (and they would be exact if the stand-point was the same for both images). This is a great example of how to really find a scenic photo location

The other scene, that is putatively of Mono Lake, is most likely not. I tried many vantage points from the shore of Mono lake in Google Earth (using the little man thingy) for "Street View", and can't even come close, or see how I can come close given what is in the background, for it to be Mono Lake. I could be wrong - give it a try if you really want to know. It could be an all day task to really find the true location, if the itinerary posted here is close to what your parents actually did. Using Google Earth is tedious, but it does confirm educated (or not so educated) guesses.

Drew Wiley
29-Dec-2015, 10:35
It's Mono Lake from the Hawthorne Road just north of the Lake. The island is unmistakable. Google Earth is really a poor tool is respect of interpreting landmarks. Old time stereo aerial photos are far far better for interpreting specific landforms, even today. But I've only been right past Mono Lake hundreds of times. As far as Klamath Lake goes, I utterly hate that road in the summer, all clogged with Motorhomes, logging trucks, etc. My late brother moved to Bend, so I had to take that route sometimes. When I was a kid my dad routinely took me out of school for two-week geology and rockhounding tours which often involved eastern Oregon. There are lava tubes all over the eastern Cascades. Captain Jack holed up in caves in Modoc Country (northern Cal) during the last official Indian war in this country, and the most expensive one, though minor skirmishes continued here n' there elsewhere in the state for at least thirty more years.

30-Dec-2015, 11:59
It's Mono Lake from the Hawthorne Road just north of the Lake. The island is unmistakable. Google Earth is really a poor tool is respect of interpreting landmarks.

Google Earth is not perfect, but as Drew Wiley aptly demonstrates, human memory is an even worse tool for identifying landmarks and photo points. Jim Graves' post (#16) shows a close match between the original photo and Google Earth's version for the Klamath Lake scene. For the putative Mono lake scene, I tried various points along the Hawthorne Road in Google Earth, and nothing matches, including large features such as mountains, shoreline configuration, etc. (and I have been along the is road many times too, and thought Mono lake was a plausible choice). Anyone with Google Earth and access to the LFPF site can verify what I am saying, so I will not belabor this point.

Old time stereo aerial photos are far far better for interpreting specific landforms, even today

They are better (I have made maps from aerial photographs, long before digital versions came about) if the resolution is high -- and it usually is -- for a bird's eye view, but converting them to an oblique view that shows topography as one would see it standing on the ground is very difficult and time consuming.

The imagery within Google Earth usually have a 1-meter or so ground resolution, so it does not resolve vegetation and other fine features very well, but larger features are quite accurately depicted.

Scientists are using Google Earth to re-locate historic photo points, and Thomas C. Hanks and others published a nice demonstration in "Repeat Photography: Methods and Applications in the Natural Sciences", edited by Robert Webb, Diane Boyd, and Raymond Turner. Many of their scenes were partially under the waters of Lake Powell, but they still could find the original locations using Google Earth and it saved them an enormous amount of time. It's one thing to drive along a highway looking around, and quite another scrambling around the canyon country of Arizona.

To me, it is a lot more fun to try and guess from memory where a photo was taken and then go there to check it out, and before Google Earth came about, I had done this many times and had been wrong many times. But here is an example where I "did not need no stinkin' Google Earth" to find the photo point. It also demonstrates the accuracy of Google Earth for identifying landmarks -- in this case the Grand Teton, a well-known landmark in Wyoming, and its environs.

The image on the left is William H. Jackson's, taken during the Hayden Survey of 1872 around July 28, the middle one is mine from June 22,2015, (on 4 by 5 Ilford Ortho Plus, no filter), and the one on the right is from Google Earth, Landsat Imagery from August 2, 2013, and a digital elevation model (DEM).

The approximate location for the photopoint is at 43 deg 44' 44.35", 110 deg 50' 44.78",10974 feet elev. "Table Mountain, Alta, WY" will get you close.

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Jackson's photo point is on a small ledge, barely wide enough for me and the tripod, at the very brink of the steep couloir (gully) in the foreground. Just above it was a more spacious ledge but it was clearly not his spot, as the foreground elements did not line up from there. Google Earth is much too crude to find such an exact photo-point -- the elevation detail for digital elevation models (DEM) are usually based on USGS topographic maps, and here the contour interval is 80 feet. The DEM can distort the local topography, such as the pinnacle on the right foreground. So there are clearly limitations, but Google Earth can get you within 10 to 20 feet of the original photopoint if there are distinct foreground features. Without such features, topography in the background, even if miles away, can be used to get within say 100 feet of the photopoint in many cases.

Jackson's photo is remarkable in many ways, but two that stand out for me are:

1. The amazing clarity - the mountains in the far background (Gros Ventre's) are about 20 to 30 miles away, but show much more clearly than in my photo. Typically, distant features are faint to invisible on wet collodion emulsions when there was atmospheric haze. During my visit, there was some haze but it would take a totally blue-bird day to match what Jackson saw.

2. The photo-point -- Jackson writes about getting to this place as a harrowing experience. He would have crossed 35 to 40 degree snow, perched over large, steep cliffs, to even get near the photo point. Yet when he got there, he picked a dramatic, exposed ledge to set up his gear rather than a much safer spot nearby that would have served just as well. Such a choice is a window into William Jackson's personality.

For the geologists: Jackson's photopoint is at the lower boundary of the Flathead sandstone formation (middle Cambrian), which sits unconformably on Precmabrian gneiss and quartz monszonite here. There is a 2 billion-year gap in the rock record just below his feet.

Drew Wiley
30-Dec-2015, 12:27
This is fun stuff. Ironically, one of the worst photographers ever for landmark memory was AA. He repeatedly misidentified mountains, and some of those naming errors have passed on to relatively famous photographs. Where I find Google Earth particularly deficient is in reading vertical scale. You can have a three thousand foot cliff and it hardly shows unless there is a prominent shadow. With stereoscope photos, relief stands out dramatically. It's even easier to read relief on a conventional topo map than most Google Earth application, though they do have a kinda half-baked way to show shaded relief counters. I state this from a learning curve that goes way back to doing my own archaeological and geologic research exercises using aerial photos. But those old stereoscopes were sure hard on the eyes! It's how they spotted Germany's underground V2 bunkers, disguised tanks and ships etc during WWII. Labor intensive, but actually better in many ways than today's satellite images, which really act more like spotting scopes before analysts selectively home in on details. Yet it does amaze me how
the old surveyors got atop remote mountains decades before official "climbers" did. Wheel Mtn on the Black Divide in the Sierras is an example.

30-Dec-2015, 19:46
Where I find Google Earth particularly deficient is in reading vertical scale

Google Earth is totally deficient the vertical dimension when in "bird's eye" view. It is akin to looking at a single aerial photograph rather than a stereo pair. But the vertical (topographic) aspect is very apparent and quite accurate when using the "street view" feature. The "Street view" involves moving the little man thing onto the image -- that is how I came up with the image of the Grand Teton etc. in thread #24. This approach is much more practical than using a topo map or stereo pair of photos when trying to identify a scene taken with a camera on the ground somewhere, which is the original topic for this thread.

Sirius Glass
30-Dec-2015, 19:50
First one, I do not know.
Second on looks like Mono Lake.

1-Jan-2016, 12:29
Thanks again for everybody's suggestions.

My sister and I have discussed our parents' trip, and we now feel that our parents went up Highway 97 from Yosemite to Salem, Oregon. So I was wrong about them driving up the California coast :-( We are continuing to discuss where the other photos were taken, but somewhere along Highway 97 (circa September/October 1962) seems to be the answer...

Happy New Year to everybody :-)