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Mary Austin and Andrew Forbes: poetry, photography, and the Eastern Sierra.

The origin of mountain streams is like the origin of tears, patent to the understanding but mysterious to the sense," Mary Austin wrote of the snow-fed rivers that cascaded down the sheer gorges of the Eastern Sierra. The haunting beauty of the pristine streams and dramatic crests "blotched dark with pines and white with snow" provided the aesthetic inspiration for the poetry she composed while living in the shadow of the mountains. The compelling landscape also drew the photographer Andrew Forbes to the area. He recorded many exceptional scenes in a stunning collection of photographic views taken after his arrival at the turn of the century. From 1902 to 1906, the lives of Austin and Forbes overlapped in the Owens Valley; each documented the natural beauty of the Eastern Sierra south of Yosemite as they pursued their art. (1)

Mary Hunter Austin (1868-1934) is best known today for her 1903 classic, The Land of Little Rain, story sketches describing and interpreting the Eastern Sierra region. On the basis of this book and other nature writing, she is often ranked with Henry David Thoreau and John Muir as a naturalist. In all, she authored some thirty books and wrote in a wide variety of forms, including poems, plays, novels, short stories, articles, and reviews. Many of her most important works are currently in print, but much of the poetry written during the period when she lived in the Owens Valley is little known. This essay adds to the published record--set down in Austin's autobiography, Earth Horizon, and in subsequent biographies--and includes a number of her previously unpublished poems. It is the first attempt to integrate some of the poems written during this time with the biographical information. (2)


Andrew Alexander Forbes (1862-1921) is remembered for his dramatic photographs of the fourth Oklahoma land run in September 1893, when 100,000 homesteaders dashed for free land in the "Cherokee Strip." A collection of his western images includes hundreds of panoramic views, photographs, and postcards made during his years in the Eastern Sierra, a small percentage of which have ever been published. To date, there is somewhat limited biographical data available on Forbes. This study is the first published essay integrating some of Forbes' photographs taken between 1902 and 1916 with the published details of his life. (3)

In addition to their artistic merit, Forbes' photographs and Austin's poems are significant in their focus on the Eastern Sierra. In pursuing their creative interests and livelihoods, Forbes and Austin increased public awareness for this unique landscape and its inhabitants. Forbes' photographs were sold to local residents, businesses, and tourists, while Austin, who as a teacher in the Owens Valley composed nature poetry "to have something for my pupils about the land they lived in," (4) sold her verse to regional magazines such as The Land of Sunshine (renamed Out West in 1902) and to eastern periodicals.

Inspired by the dramatic beauty of the Eastern Sierra, Austin and Forbes made lasting contributions to the cultural history of California and the West. Paired together, their word pictures and photographic images offer a modern audience the opportunity to experience creative expressions linked by historical period, subject matter, and artistic sensibility.


Both Austin and Forbes were transplanted Midwesterners to the Owens Valley, an arid ranching valley in eastern California sided by two mountain ranges. The Eastern Sierra skyline--great blocks of gray with opal shadows--lies to the west, dominated by the towering 14,496-foot summit of Mount Whitney. The stark White-Inyo Mountains rise to the east. At the foot of Mount Whitney are the Alabama Hills, rust-brown outcrops of weathered granite. Owens Lake, once a hundred square miles in size, lay in the 1890s "like a vast lidless eye" in the desert basin. (5) Eighty miles east is Death Valley, 282 feet below sea level. The hundred-mile-long Owens Valley runs between the crest of the highest mountain in the contiguous United States and the stark, desert desolation of the lowest elevation.


The explorer General John Charles Fremont named the Owens Valley, and its river and lake, for Richard Owens, with whom he crossed the Sierra in 1845 during an expedition in the Sierra Nevada. During the 1860s, settlers arrived in the valley to establish farms and ranches along the Owens River. Mining camps soon dotted the Eastern Sierra, operated by miners who were lured to the mountain regions by the discovery of gold in 1857. In 1861, cattlemen first grazed their cattle in the valley before driving the herds through the Sierra. After an Indian uprising, U.S. soldiers arrived to provide protection for the settlers and prospectors. The troops built Camp Independence on Oak Creek in 1862. Four years later, Independence, the location of the valley's first homestead, became the seat of the newly organized Inyo County. (6)

Forbes was in his late thirties when he made his way to the Owens Valley, documenting his long, winding route through his camera lens. He was born in Ottawa, Wisconsin, on April 21, 1862, one of eight children, to James McLaren Forbes, of Scotland, and Lucinda Parmelia Sanders Forbes, of New York. (7) In 1867 the Forbes family traveled from Wisconsin to California via the Isthmus of Panama, returning to the Midwest the following year and settling near Sioux City, Iowa. In 1878 they relocated to Bazine, Kansas, where they prospered as cattle ranchers until a grasshopper plague destroyed the feed and a blizzard smothered the cattle in gullies of drifting snow. They came to southern California in 1890, first settling in Riverside County and then in Santa Ana in Orange County.


Forbes developed an interest in photography during the late 1870s or early 1880s while he was working on his family's cattle ranch; a relative observed that he inherited his artistic talent from his mother. He began his professional career in the late 1880s as an itinerant photographer, working the western territories with other skilled cameramen such as William Pretty-man, George B. Cornish, and Thomas Croft; he may have learned his trade from one of them. The limited equipment of his day was the large format camera, which was cumbersome to use but produced high-quality prints using 8 x 10 inch negatives on color-blind plates. As an itinerant photographer, Forbes obtained bed and board in ranch bunkhouses and traveled by buckboard across rough terrain, sometimes going by horse or mule to isolated locations. He traveled to Dodge City, Kansas, and Stillwater, Oklahoma, capturing images of railroad construction workers, settlers beside their sod houses, and teachers and Indian children at a mission school. He took pictures of buffalo herds and cattle roundups and created memorable images of weathered cowboys in the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles roping their saddle horses, branding steer, and gathering around a chuck wagon. Isolated cowhands paid him fifty cents to a dollar for a souvenir picture. (8)


Traveling through the Southwest, Forbes photographed Native Americans in Taos and Santa Fe, New Mexico, and in northern Arizona. He then worked his way along the eastern Rocky Mountains, arriving in the late 1890s at Santa Ana, where he joined his parents and sister. During his four-year stay in southern California, he produced images of communities, farms, and missions. He also traveled north to photograph Death Valley and the Eastern Sierra. In 1902, he settled in the town of Bishop.

Austin was a young wife in her mid-twenties when she arrived in the Owens Valley. Born on September 9, 1868, in Carlinville, Illinois, she was the third of four children. Her father, George Hunter, a Civil War veteran, was from England; her mother, Susanna Savilla Graham Hunter, was from Illinois. Austin graduated from Blackburn College in Carlinville, where she studied science. After her father's death, she came West in 1888 with her mother and brothers to homestead in California. Arriving in Los Angeles by train, they traveled one hundred miles by buckboard and horseback across Tejon Pass to settle in Kern County. Their tiny one-room cabin, surrounded by knee-high sagebrush, was a two-day wagon ride from Bakersfield, the main source of supplies. A severe drought soon undermined their homesteading venture.

Discouraged by the turn of events, Austin found employment as a teacher at a dairy ranch school in Mountain View in Kern County. There she met Stafford Wallace Austin, a graduate of the University of California and an aspiring viticulturalist, whom she married in 1891. After a failed attempt at fruit farming, the Austins settled in Bakersfield, where Wallace obtained employment supervising the construction of an irrigation ditch. The following year, when his brother Frank offered him a job managing an irrigation site in the Owens Valley, they moved to Lone Pine in the Eastern Sierra.


From childhood, when she read the work of Byron, Keats, and Shelley in her father's book-lined study, Austin nurtured a lifelong interest in poetry. She began to write poems as a college student in the 1880s. She published some of her verse in her college literary magazine, the Blackburnian, and was elected "Class Poet." During their courtship Wallace Austin read poetry to her, a genteel custom of the period; on a trip to San Francisco after their marriage, she sought out the California poet Ina Coolbrith, who gave her advice and encouragement. (9)


When Austin first arrived in the Owens Valley in the spring of 1892, the tiny town of Lone Pine lay in a valley dotted with homesteads. Both the town and the creek that ran through it were named for a lone Jeffrey pine, later washed away in a flood. The first cabin was built beside the creek in 1861. West of town stood Lone Pine Mountain, "the vast ghost-gray bulk of Opopago"--"The Weeper" (10)--as it was known to the Paiute Indians. The Paiutes were the first to divert water from the Owens River into ditches. Now ranchers and farmers needed water for their cattle and crops, and Wallace joined his brother Frank's project to irrigate the arid soil. But the scheme failed due to a lack of capital, a fate common to private irrigation ventures. Unable to pay their bills, the Austins were evicted from their residence at the Lone Pine Hotel and moved to a boardinghouse on the outskirts of town. Their daughter, Ruth, was born the following October.

The Austins spent the winter and spring of 1893 at George's Creek, a few miles north of Lone Pine, where Wallace obtained a teaching position and filed a homesteading claim. They lived in a one-room cabin on a mesa beside the nearby Alabama Hills. That first icy-cold winter, Mary saw the gathering storms over the Eastern Sierra. She watched the heavy snow falling on the mountain slopes and observed how it "spread over the young firs in green-ribbed tents." (11) In her poem "The Coming of the Snow," composed in 1894 and carefully copied into her composition notebook, she wrote:
 Follows a little darkening of the air,
 With cattle gathering on the lower hills
 And sparrows querulous of coming ills,
 And so day passes ere we are aware.

 Rises the wind by night and builds a roof
 Wherein his busy hands with warp and woof
 Of frost and cloud go swiftly to and fro
 Weaving the white pavilions of the snow. (12)

At George's Creek, Austin was enchanted by the "smell of [burning] sage at sundown" and the "twilight twinkle of shepherd fires." She called the Alabama Hills the Twilight Hills and delighted in the blooms of the White Granite Gilia, a Sierra wildflower--called "evening snow" by local children--that opens at night. She also was intrigued by the lavender-blue lupine that grew on the mesas, "not holding any constant blue, but paling and purpling." (13) Writing in her composition notebook, she described the scene in verses from her poem "A Twilight Hill":
 And here the blundering night-moth doth disclose
 The scented hollow where the currant grows,
 And there the murky bloom of gilia glows
 Like nuns at prayer, milk-white.

 Some beams shall light the far, dark, tapered firs,
 A quail belated to its covert whirs
 In nesting hollows where the warm wind stirs
 The lupines everywhere. (14)

The Austins returned to Lone Pine when Wallace was offered a position as superintendent of schools. Still deeply in debt, to earn additional income Mary took Ruth and moved to Bishop, sixty miles north, to teach English, literature, and art at the Inyo Academy. Two years later, she accepted a teaching position in Lone Pine. Throughout this period, she struggled to continue her writing. In the summer of 1899, she visited Los Angeles and met the flamboyant editor Charles Lummis, who advised her on publishing her work. (15) When she returned to the Owens Valley, she settled in Independence, where Wallace had taken a position as registrar of federal lands at the U.S. General Land Office, part of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

While in Los Angeles, Austin had lectured on the subject of western nature study. Her passionate interest in botany--developed during her childhood--was reinforced by her great gift for the close observation of nature and her study of science. As a young girl she envied the life of Charles Robertson, a professor of botany at Blackburn College. She would "see him occasionally setting out with [his]... botany case, or coming home ... smelling of meadowsweet" after his excursions into the woods to find specimens. The Austins began collecting plant samples in the Eastern Sierra and gathered "more than three hundred species" of wildflowers in Kearsarge Canyon. (16) Wallace was a careful collector, naming and classifying each specimen and noting the location and date of collection. There were many flowers in the grasslands of the valley and acres of wildflowers in the alpine meadows. In a canyon by the headwaters of Independence Creek, Onion Valley was blanketed with flowers each spring. Austin featured it in a verse from her poem "Blue-Eyed Grass":
 Blue-eyed grass in the meadow
 And yarrow white on the hill,
 Cat-tails that rustle and whisper
 To a wind that is never still;
 Blue-eyed grass in the meadow,
 And a laden bee's low hum,
 Milkweed that runs to be first in the field
 Before the butterflies come. (17)

In 1900, the Austins began construction of a two-story house in Independence, partly paid for by the money from Mary's stories and poems. It was, she noted, a "friendly little town," possessed "of not more than 200 or 300 inhabitants ... with the County Courthouse, two saloons, three stores, and the hotel." (18) She was able to stop teaching and devote her time to her writing. The Austins put Ruth, who exhibited severe behavioral problems and had been diagnosed with a mental disability, in the care of a local farm couple. Their new home, one of the largest in the community, was located at the end of Market Street, a block and a half from the center of town, with an unobstructed view of Kearsarge Peak. Austin's literary efforts during the six years she lived in Independence resulted in the publication of The Land of Little Rain (1903), The Basket Woman (1904), Isidro (1905), and The Flock (1906). The Land of Little Rain was well received by eastern critics. Copies were shipped to Independence and arrived by buckboard from the Carson and Colorado railroad depot at Keeler. A local business proprietor, J. E. Eibeshutz, handled the sale of the book at his general store. (19)



In 1902, Andrew Forbes settled in Bishop, north of Independence. Originally called Bishop Creek, it was named after Samuel Bishop, one of the first cattle ranchers in the valley. Forbes traveled around the region, earning his living by taking pictures of the local inhabitants; towns, farms, ranches, and mines; the Owens Valley; and the surrounding mountains.

By the late 1880s, factory-made dry plate negatives, less messy than hand-coated wet plates, were available and by the turn of the century cameras were slightly less bulky. With his "photographic outfit," which included his tent, camera, glass negatives, paper stock, and other equipment in his wagon, Forbes rode from town to town. His tent functioned as a portable makeshift studio. Each summer from mid-June through August, after the winter snow had melted at the lower elevations, he packed his gear and headed for the mountains, seeking the ideal vistas and perfect lighting for his memorable images of the Eastern Sierra. He photographed in the early morning and late afternoon, when the light produced deeper shadows and more dramatic scenes.

The Eastern Sierra, especially the sublime vistas of Yosemite Valley, north of the Owens Valley, captured the imagination of many nineteenth-century landscape photographers. Charles L. Weed (1824-1903) produced the first photographic images of Yosemite in 1859, using large ii x 15 inch glass negatives hand-coated with light-sensitive chemicals; his work was followed in 1861 by that of Carleton E. Watkins (1829-1916), whose scenic views were produced from mammoth 18 x 22 inch glass negatives. Ansel Adams (1902-1984), the most famous Yosemite photographer, first photographed Yosemite in 1916 with a Kodak Brownie box camera. He later used an 8 x 10 inch view camera to make the negatives for his prints. Forbes' black-and-white images of the Eastern Sierra--generally recognized as the 125-mile-long region extending from Mount Whitney in the south to Yosemite National Park in the north--taken from 1900 to 1916, precede Adams' work; Adams photographed many of the same vistas, including the Owens Valley, Alabama Hills, and Kearsarge Pinnacles. (20)

Shooting from across the Owens Valley, Forbes captured the scenic grandeur of snow-covered Mount Humphreys, at 13,986 feet the highest peak in the Sierra National Forest. He photographed the rugged beauty of the Owens River canyon, with white water swirling past granite boulders. His lens focused on a sweeping image of the Owens River, flowing through mountain woodlands to the valley below. He portrayed Bishop Creek Canyon, with tumbling water cascading downward for 6,000 feet, and Bishop Creek, flowing past fir trees on the mountain slopes. Of the eighty lakes within a few miles of the creek, Forbes photographed the lake at the north fork of the creek near Piute Pass and the one at the head of the creek's south fork. Some of Forbes' photographs document the heavy imprint of human activity on this once-unspoiled landscape, revealing severed trees and stumps, abandoned structures, cabins, and well-worn mountain trails.

Forbes envisioned the exciting prospect of establishing the first successful photography studio in the Owens Valley. He began his venture sometime between 1902 and 1904, opening his studio in Bishop on West Line Street. (The first photography studio in Yosemite Valley had opened in 1870, and by 1902 several businesses were competing for Yosemite's studio trade.) He ran a weekly advertisement in the Inyo Independent, noting his expertise in "mountain, stock, and Indian views" and in "portrait work in any style." To promote his photography business he offered a free enlargement with every dozen portraits. (21)

Although he sold numerous portraits, Forbes' main source of revenue was from scenic prints and picture postcards, which were easily reproduced from glass plate negatives. He maintained an index to his postcards, which noted the subject and date. Postcards, originally called mailing cards and used for advertising, were introduced in 1861. Forbes' picture postcards predate those of Burton Frasher, who began photographing the West, including the region around Bishop, in the 1920s. The originator of Frashers Fotos, black-and-white postcards sold nationwide, Frasher would become the West's leading producer of picture postcards.

A frequent visitor to towns, farms, and ranches, Forbes rode through the basin taking pictures and marketing his prints and postcards. His photographs captured the transition of small, dusty towns into thriving communities with picket-fenced, wood-framed houses; streets lined with poplars; and increasing numbers of people putting down roots in the valley soil. On October 17, 1902, the Inyo Independent announced that Forbes was in Independence, "so give him a call soon." A week later, he was doing a "rushing business" in pictures. In November he was photographing in Lone Pine and returned to Independence in December. In February 1903, the newspaper noted, he was in Big Pine with his tent, where he would remain for a few weeks. The following May he was back in Independence. He visited again in November and stayed a week. In early December, he "returned to Bishop," but "took quite a number of beautiful views of the Sierra Nevadas while here which he will have finished up soon." (22)

Forbes created an illustrated catalog to market his photographs. Orders, "unless otherwise specified," were filled in black and white. Photographs were also available in "cepia [sic], green and firelight tones." His 10-inch-wide panoramas averaged seventy-five cents per foot. His breathtaking 32-foot panorama of the Sierra Nevada in thirteen sections was listed at $15.00. Other panoramic views of the Sierra cost between $1.75 and $4.00. Black-and-white 8 x 10 inch photographs sold for five cents. Forbes also sold lantern slides, which could be projected onto a large screen, and stereo cards, which provided three-dimensional images. His catalog was arranged by subject, among them clouds and lightning, mountains, desert, cattle, horses, sheep, and goats. There was also a section on the different groups of Indians. He sold photographs of picturesque locales, such as the Keeler depot east of Owens Lake. Expanding his photography trips, he began marketing a broader range of landscape photography, including scenes of Mammoth and Yosemite. In addition to his photographs, he rented cameras and sold them, along with photographic supplies, to local residents and tourists who stopped by his Bishop studio. (23)



At the turn of the century, the transcontinental line came to Reno, Nevada. There it connected with a narrow-gauge railroad that ran to the Keeler depot, bringing tourists from the East traveling in relative style and comfort. As Austin observed, "People were beginning to make their way into Inyo; people from the Sierra Club, mountain-climbers and explorers, botanists, hunting and fishing people; [and] collectors of Indian baskets." (24) Although the landscape of Yosemite was more spectacular, the Inyo Independent proclaimed that "there is no place in the United States that can offer a more varied or grander scenery than the mountains and valleys of the Sierras in Inyo county." (25)

Like tourists to the region, Forbes was drawn to the 12,618-foot Kearsarge Peak at the edge of the Owens Valley, and he photographed it, snow-covered, with the little town of Independence in the foreground. Kearsarge Pass was originally a Paiute trading route. When gold and silver were discovered in 1864, miners flocked to the mountain. It became a successful mining district until an avalanche destroyed it in 1867. There is a string of alpine lakes in Kearsarge, resting in granite basins. Forbes photographed small, picturesque Kearsarge Lake above Onion Valley and Sunset Lake near Kearsarge Pass. Austin noted how most lakes in the Eastern Sierra are green, not blue. As she observed, "The lake is the eye of the mountain, jade green, placid, unwinking, also unfathomable." (26)

While photographing in the southern part of the valley, Forbes stayed in Independence at the Norman House on the corner of Edwards and Market streets, down the block from Austin's house. It was a first-class hotel with thirty bedrooms, where one could board by the day, week, or month. The hotel's register indicates that visitors frequently came to Independence from Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Reno. Hundreds of tourists a year visited the region, arriving, increasingly, from as far away as Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. (27)

Forbes photographed one of Inyo's most popular tourist sites, Winnedumah Paiute Monument, an 80-foot granite monolith in the White-Inyo Mountains, immortalized in a Native American legend. In one version of the tale, Winnedumah, a medicine man, travels into the mountains to find his brother, Tinemaha, who has been slain in a battle with the Shoshones. The god Taupee turns Winnedumah into a granite spire to watch over the Paiute tribe. Like Forbes, Austin recognized the popular appeal of the striking granite formation, which could be seen from Kearsarge Pass. She appropriated the legend for her poem "Winnedumah," which recounts the medicine man's transformation into "the granite boulder high above the white-pine wood." (28)


In 1900, approximately one thousand Native Americans lived in the Owens Valley. The influx of ranchers and homesteaders had destroyed half their population and their original way of life. "The Paiutes," Austin wrote, "had made their last stand at the border of the Bitter Lake" in the 1860s when thirty-five Indians were killed or driven into Owens Lake to drown. (29) In 1902, a federal grant created reservation land for Indian settlement at Independence Camp. Paiute men worked on local farms and ranches; women found jobs as household help in local homes. The children attended the Indian schools in the valley.

In response to the relegation of the Indians to reservations and the destruction of their way of life, there was a growing movement to preserve what remained of Native American culture. Some Americans held a romantic image of Indians living in harmony with nature. But, Austin observed, in the Owens Valley "the clans who owned the earth, [had] fallen into the deplorable condition of hangers-on." Burdened with household chores and worries about her disabled daughter, Austin employed a Paiute housekeeper and befriended the local Indian women. She attended some of the Paiute ceremonies and celebrations and recorded their songs with a home phonograph using wax cylinders. Visiting their camps, she watched as Paiute women dug wild hyacinth roots, gathered seeds, and crafted their willow baskets. She listened to their "folk tales, famine tales, love and long-suffering," and wove their words into her stories and poetry. (30) In "The Song-Makers," she penned one of her "re-expressions" of Native American "song":
 Oh, a long time
 The snow is over all the mountain.
 The deer have come down and the big-horn,
 They have passed over Waban.
 A long time now we have eaten seeds
 And dried flesh of the summer's killing,
 We are wearied of our huts.
 The mists have come down like a tent,
 They have hid the mountain.
 And on a day suddenly comes the sun.
 The mists are withered away,
 The grass is seen on the mountain! (31)

Forbes was equally attracted to the native culture and photographed the Paiute encampments in the valley. The houses, "brown wickiups in the chaparral," as Austin called them, had changed little over time; only a few Owens Valley Indians owned their own land and worked their own farms. Forbes, who had photographed a wide range of Native American groups as he traveled across the country, made friends with the local Indians who "would gather to sit and socialize on the edge of the boardwalk in front of his studio." In his portrait work he created numerous artistic poses of Paiute women in their maternal role. The recurrent image of a mother and child, thought-provoking in the universality of its underlying themes, proved a popular subject. Forbes also photographed Paiute women with their beautiful willow baskets decorated with intricate patterns; Austin described one as "a design in colored bark of the procession plumed crests of the valley quail." (32)

Like Austin, Forbes frequently focused on the feminine and artistic aspects of Paiute culture. Taken out of their larger context, removed from time and place, these images were sold as decorative art, sentimental souvenirs, and picture postcards to be sent to family and friends. Nevertheless, they captured the resilience and dignity of native people displaced in the valley of the Eastern Sierra.



When his horse or mule reached the end of a trail during his forays into the mountains, Forbes carried his photographic equipment on his back to get the scenic views he wanted. On mountain summits, he began using a large, panoramic Circuit camera, rotating on a turntable mounted on a tripod. He created scenic panoramas described by one author as "technical tours de ford' and experimented with "aerial photography by suspending the camera from a series of large kites." (33) He photographed hundreds of different panoramic scenes of the mountains and valley. One huge panorama, showing 250 miles of the Sierra Nevada, measured 32 feet. (34)

Packing into the mountains, Forbes photographed Lone Pine Lake, elevation 9,940 feet, with a sunlit cloud overhead. As Austin observed, in the mountains "the clouds came walking on the floor of heaven, flat and pearly gray beneath, rounded and pearly white above." Forbes also photographed the waterfalls on Lone Pine Creek with their "incessant white and tumbling waters." A mountain range without streams, Austin wrote, is "forsaken of most things but beauty and madness and death and God." (35)

On camping trips in the mountains, Austin slept in her bedroll beneath the pines. In early July 1904, she and her friend Leila Scovil camped in the mountains above Independence. At the end of the month she camped again, this time via Kearsarge trail, with a large party that included members of the Eibeshutz family. (36) She also camped in Kearsarge with Wallace, an avid outdoorsman. In the summer the mountains offer relief from the overwhelming heat in the valley, where the average daytime summer temperature is 97 degrees. As Austin complained, "It is insufferably hot here in the summer." However, as she reflected, "Never believe what you are told, that midsummer is the best time to go up the streets of the mountain ... for seeing and understanding, the best time is when you have the longest leave to stay." Although the horseback trips taxed her strength, Austin loved the "meadows, little strips of alpine freshness, [which] begin before the timberline is reached." (37) At night there was the rosy comfort of a crackling fire, as she fancifully described in these lines from her unpublished poem "The Camp Fire":
 Then you wake up on your bed of springy needles,
 Lie up snug to watch the heart-wood glow and char,
 While the water in the runnels purrs and wheedles,
 From the meadows where the folded lilies are.
 Only wake to hear the wood folk, round you going,
 Thread the pine boles with small noises low and
 See the embers in the wavering ash heap glowing,
 Red and winking, like the eyeballs of a beast. (38)



In contrast to the open spaces of the mountains, the valley floor was populated with a growing number of homesteads. By the turn of the century, more than 400 family farms and ranches had spread out across the once arid landscape. As Austin confirmed, "With the slow decline of mining, agricultural possibilities in Inyo began to come to the fore." (39) Fields of oats, alfalfa, wheat, and barley dotted the basin, where boughs in the orchards hung heavy with apples, peaches, and pears. Grapes grew in the vineyards, descending from arbors in gardens of geraniums and hollyhocks. More than 40,000 acres of the valley were under cultivation, but much of the basin still lacked water. Valley residents hoped that even more acres of fertile valley land could be irrigated with water from ditches fed by mountain streams.

Each year thousands of sheep and cattle were driven through the basin to graze in the mountains. The tinkle of sheep bells could be heard across the valley as flocks were driven along the mesa trail "in a windless blur of dust." As Austin explained, "the flocks passed behind the Alabamas, going swiftly till they came on the broad mesa pastures at George's Creek." (40) Sometimes there were conflicts between the "wool and mutton men" and the cattlemen over the grassy slopes. Austin depicted the approximately 10-mile drive up Lone Pine Mountain, also known as Sheep Mountain, in these lines from her poem "The Coyote and the Carrion Crow":
 At the end of the barley harvest when the foothill
 pastures fail,
 When the streams are stopped at their fountains
 and the dry, hot winds prevail,
 Then the hungry herds of the southland go up by
 the mesa trail.
 To the snow-fed northern pastures the crawling dust
 heaps go,
 And the gray coyote scents them afar and signals
 the carrion crow. (41)

At an October 1903 school Halloween party, Austin, costumed as a witch, told fortunes to seventh and eighth grade students as she peered "into the misty future." (42) But she could not have predicted the future of the Owens Valley. In 1902, the U.S. Congress had passed the National Reclamation Act to provide water to arid, inhospitable land in the West. A massive land reclamation project in the Owens Valley was planned. Mountain streams would flood new irrigation canals, and 60,000 acres of arid public land and 50,000 acres of private land would be irrigated. Federal engineers already were exploring the watersheds and measuring the rivers and streams, including the Owens River, Bishop Creek, and Pine Creek, and a report had been submitted to the federal government discussing possible sites for the dam, reservoir, and irrigation plant.

The U.S. General Land Office in Independence, where Wallace Austin was employed, handled all matters regarding public land, including surveys, maps, and deeds. As registrar he was in charge of all official records, and his office assisted reclamation project engineers. He also was active in county politics, and the irrigation project was much discussed in those circles as well. In 1904, he was elected a member of the Republican Central Committee and represented the county at the state's Republican convention.

Forbes also was knowledgeable about many aspects of the region, having photographed much of it, including the lakes and streams that formed the watersheds of the Eastern Sierra. As a result of his expertise, in 1905 he received a new assignment: photographing the valley's water sources. The Inyo Register, published in Bishop, and the Inyo Independent, published in Independence, both remarked on Forbes' photographic mission. William A. Chalfant, editor of the Inyo Register, announced that "Photographer Forbes is out picturing the water supply sources of the valley under arrangement with Fred Eaton. What it's for no one knows." The Independent reported that Forbes "went to Cottonwood" and was "making a thorough collection of photographic views of all the mountain streams and camping places along the Sierra from Olancha to Long Valley for Fred Eaton." The reference to Fred Eaton, who was credited with spearheading the controversial diversion of water from the Owens Valley to Los Angeles County, involved Forbes in a controversy over the region's water rights that is still addressed today. (43)

As part of his documentation for Eaton, Forbes photographed Cottonwood Creek, named for the cottonwood trees, which leads to the Cottonwood Lakes, a string of thirteen lakes northwest of Olancha. But it is unlikely that these or any other "camping places" were of much interest to Eaton; Forbes may have been taken in by Eaton's disingenuous explanation for his curiosity about the mountain streams.

Fred Eaton came from a prominent Los Angeles family that helped found the city of Pasadena. At age fifteen, he went to work for the Los Angeles City Water Company; he became superintendent of the company and then mayor of Los Angeles. Ironically, it was Wallace Austin's brother Frank who first interested Eaton in the Owens River water. In 1892, Eaton traveled to the valley at Frank's invitation to investigate Austin's irrigation project. He visited the Owens Valley several times afterward, bringing his good friend William Mulholland, superintendent of the newly created Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, to the area in September 1904. Traveling by buckboard, they camped out along the way. Eaton developed a scheme with Mulholland to divert Owens River water to Los Angeles and began buying properties and water rights on the Owens River. To identify locations to purchase, he made use of the records and plat maps in the General Land Office. Only later was it disclosed that he was representing Los Angeles and working for Mulholland to secure properties and water rights to build an aqueduct to Los Angeles. (44)

Across the West towns were growing as people relocated from rural areas. By 1900, the population of the city of Los Angeles was more than 100,000; thirty years earlier, it was less than 6,000. In the decade between 1890 and 1900, the population had doubled. The city's balmy climate and golden orange groves lured new residents. As the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce and other organizations stressed the importance of growth, bankers, newspaper publishers, politicians, and real estate developers became boosters for Los Angeles' virtues.

But the city faced a serious water shortage. The Los Angeles River and groundwater from rain were inadequate and unreliable. An effort to conserve water through a metering program proved insufficient. The city required an additional source of water to sustain its expanding population and allow for future growth. To meet those needs, Eaton proposed a 233-mile aqueduct, at a cost of $23 million, to supply Owens Valley water to Los Angeles.

When the Los Angeles press released news of the proposed aqueduct, the headlines of the Inyo Register protested, "Los Angeles Plots Destruction: Would Take Owens River, Lay Lands Waste." Forbes joined a Bishop committee to fight the aqueduct. He worked with Chalfant, editor of the Inyo Register since 1887, to oppose the project. Chalfant used Forbes' photographs as propaganda to publicize the importance of the Owens Valley as a farming and ranching community. He ran articles and advertisements in the Inyo Register to increase support for the area and published a twenty-five-page special edition in July 1907 extolling the benefits of living in the Owens Valley. (45)

The Austins, like other residents of the area, were stunned at the revelation that Eaton and Mulholland had successfully obtained the rights to Owens Valley water. Austin recalled in her autobiography: "Suddenly it burst upon the people of Inyo that they were trying to secure the waters of Inyo. Everything had been done. The Reclamation Service had been won over. The field papers had changed hands. Transfers had been made. Sales had been effected. A Los Angeles man, Eaton, had been in the Valley all this time spying and buying." (46)

As registrar of the General Land Office, Wallace Austin was in a unique position to understand the significance of what had happened. He had long held a vision of successful land reclamation in the Owens Valley. In response to what had now come to light, he "warned that Los Angeles' plans would result in the destruction of the valley's economy." He wrote to the commissioner of the General Land Office in Washington and to President Theodore Roosevelt, trying to persuade the federal government to continue its massive reclamation project in the Owens Valley. (47)

Mary Austin also took up the cause. She criticized the aqueduct in an article in the San Francisco Chronicle on September 3, 1905, and paid a personal visit to William Mulholland at his Los Angeles office. Mulholland conceded that she was one of the few people who understood the long-term implications of what was happening in the Owens Valley. (48)

City leaders and the press convinced Los Angeles residents that a lack of rainfall and impending drought would cause the city to run out of water. Anticipating the delivery of aqueduct water to a reservoir in the San Fernando Valley, speculators bought up the land for 50 cents an acre and sold it for as much as $600 an acre after it was subdivided. As Wallace Austin wrote, "In Owens Valley [the water] will make homes for 100,000 people of moderate means, while in the San Fernando Valley it will be accessible only to the rich and the land and the water will be in control of speculators and middle men." (49)

In February 1906, Los Angeles surveyors set up camp in a "village of tents" near Blackrock Springs, north of Independence and south of where the aqueduct would leave the river. In March they were at George's Creek, surveying "the first section, from the intake to the Alabama Hills." (50) By the end of 1908, the preparation work was completed and construction on the aqueduct began. When finished, it would supply more water than Los Angeles needed, and Owens Valley water would be used for agriculture and development in the San Fernando Valley.

For now, thousands of acres of public land that were formerly the responsibility of the General Land Office--acres that could have been successfully irrigated and made available to homesteaders--were declared off-limits to homesteading. In 1907, to protect the aqueduct route, they were made part of the forest reserve, even though there were no trees.

Despite the blistering desert heat, equipment failures, and labor conflicts, the concrete-and-steel aqueduct was completed in 1913. Using the forces of gravity to carry water to Los Angeles, it was a triumph of engineering. The water and hydroelectric power allowed Los Angeles to experience a boom in population, housing, and business. The availability of raw materials, water, electricity, and transportation allowed industries to develop and expand. Los Angeles became the largest manufacturing center in the country.


But, in the following decades, the diversion of water into the Los Angeles Aqueduct dried up 60 miles of the Owens River and completely drained Owens Lake. Cottonwood trees that grew along riverbanks died. Irrigation ditches went dry. Homesteads and farms were abandoned. Fruit trees were sold as firewood. Vineyards withered away. Fertile green fields reverted to sagebrush. The valley's agricultural economic base disappeared.

The shocking turn of events affected the Austins dramatically. By early 1906, Wallace Austin had resigned his position as registrar at the General Land Office. In July and August 1905, he and several of his supporters had filed claims on water surpluses in the valley on behalf of the residents, which proved worthless and resulted in considerable humiliation when he was publically ridiculed by Fred Eaton in the Los Angeles press. (51)

The Austins sold their house in Independence and committed Ruth to an institution in Santa Clara. Mary moved to Carmel, and Wallace eventually relocated to Trona in the Mojave Desert. The tragedy of the Owens Valley no doubt contributed to the stress and disappointment in the Austins' marriage; they never resumed married life and were divorced in 1914. Mary Austin went on to become one of America's most important women writers and a spokeswoman for Native American rights. In 1917, she published The Ford, a fictionalized account of the Owens Valley water conflict. She died in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on August 13, 1934. In 1966, an Eastern Sierra peak located 8.5 miles west of Independence was named in her honor--Mount Mary Austin--with an elevation of 13,048 feet.

Forbes' life was not impacted as forcefully as was the Austins'. His home and studio were in Bishop, which unlike Independence was north of the Owens River aqueduct intake and thus unaffected by the impending diversion of water to Los Angeles. Furthermore, Forbes' ability to earn a living was not in jeopardy. He remained in Bishop during the construction of the aqueduct and continued his photographic trips around the valley and in the mountains. In early 1906, the Inyo Independent reported that Forbes would be in Independence until February 20, and that he had "pitched his big tent near the drug store and [was] ready for work." (52) The city of Bishop had developed an electrical power plant and the Bishop Light and Power Company featured a Forbes' landscape photograph on its annual calendar.

Forbes continued to participate in community activities and organizations, such as the local theater group. In 1909, he married Mary Rozette Prutsman, who helped run his photography business, often accompanying him on his monthlong summer pack trips into the mountains. They had one son, J. McLaren Forbes, born in 1910. But over time Forbes became discouraged by the changes in the valley wrought by the construction of the aqueduct. In 1916, three years after the aqueduct was completed, he sold his Bishop house and studio and moved to Lompoc, California, where he died of a heart attack on March 21, 1921.


Today the towns along Highway 395, which runs through the Owens Valley, are studded with restaurants, motels, convenience stores, and gas stations. For their economic survival, they rely on the summer tourist season. When the snow melts and the trails are open, the Eastern Sierra attracts a wide range of visitors. Camping, hiking, fishing, bird watching, and photography are only a few of the activities that draw millions of people to the region each year. The valley itself is largely untouched by the forces of urbanization, and most of it remains in its natural state. Cattle herds graze on land leased from Los Angeles, which owns 300,000 acres in the region. In the late afternoons, Tule elk wander down from the foothills to the valley floor. At night, coyotes lope through the desert sage.

The mountains that overlook the Owens Valley continue to inspire residents and tourists alike. These haunting lines from Austin's "The Coming of the Snow" convey their mystery and timeless beauty:
 As yet no wind, but clouds all white and slow,
 Blind clouds that halt and fumble as they go,
 Touching remembered landmarks, hill and spur,
 Hoar pine and sapling, hemlock, spruce and fir,
 By lake and fall, by canon, rift and scar.
 By long dark reaches where the tamaracks are. (53)

Wind in the Pine Leaves

In Forbes' photographs, the scenic pageantry of the forests enhances majestic mountain views. The trees in the Eastern Sierra include cottonwood, quaking aspen, white fir, and red fir, and seven species of pine grow in the mountains above Independence. Austin captured a telling detail of the forest when she wrote about "pine trees [that] creak although there is no wind." In another passage, she described the mournful sound of a Jeffrey pine "sighing its soul away upon the wind."

One of Forbes' intriguing images is a lone pinon pine on a rocky slope, silhouetted against a clear sky. In her unpublished poem "The Procession of the Pines," Austin suggests a dramatic view of pines on the Sierra slopes:
 The willows follow the white-foot streams
 And grow at the water's will;
 But ever and always the pines keep on
 Marching over the hill.
 Darkly they troop by butte and pass,
 Riving great racks for place
 And the foremost ones are bent and bowed
 Like runners stretched in a race.


Caption sources: Mary Austin, The Land of Little Rain, Earth Horizon, and The Children Sing in the West; Mary Austin Collection, Henry E. Huntington Library, AU 465; Sue Irwin, California's Eastern Sierra: A Visitor's Guide (Los Olivos, CA: Cachuma Press, 2002); National Cowboy Museum; Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County; Jeff Putman and Genny Smith, ads., Deepest Valley: A Guide to the Owens Valley (Mammoth Lakes, CA: Genny Smith Books, 1995).

(1) Mary Austin, The Land of Little Rain (Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1903), 205; Mary Austin, Earth Horizon (New York: The Literary Guild, 1932), 233.

(2) Ann H. Zwinger, ed., Mary Austin and John Muir: Writing the Western Landscape (Boston: Beacon Press, 1994), ix-x. The Mary Austin Collection at the Henry E. Huntington Library in San Marino, California, contains 5,500 pieces by and about Austin. Among them is a 5 x 9 inch red and black composition notebook with lined paper, of the type students used at the turn of the century. On the front appears the inscription, "This book was used by me in Inyo. Poems being copied in it as they were written. M.A." (AU 381) Some of the twenty-six poems in the notebook have never appeared in print. The Mary Austin Collection also includes other published and unpublished poems from this period that complement Austin's depictions of the Eastern Sierra in The Land of Little Rain and in her autobiography, Earth Horizon. In addition, microfilm issues of the Eastern Sierra newspaper of the period, the Inyo Independent, located at the Inyo County Library in Independence, contain new information about Austin's life.

(3) See Sheldon Russell, Dreams to Dust: A Tale of the Oklahoma Land Rush (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2006), William Willard Howard, "The Rush to Oklahoma," Harper's Weekly 33 (May 18, 1889): 391-94, and Seth K. Humphrey, Following the Prairie Frontier (Minneapolis: The University of Minnesota Press, 1931). Some of Forbes' images of the Cherokee Strip Land Run are housed in the Robert E. Cunningham Oklahoma History Collection at the Donald C. & Elizabeth M. Dickinson Research Center, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, Oklahoma City.

There are 2,800 negatives of western subjects in the Forbes Collection at the Seaver Center for Western History Research at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. One thousand of them are glass plate negatives, including Forbes' 6 x 8 inch and 8 x 10 inch glass negatives of the Eastern Sierra; 400 are Forbes' panoramic views; and there are hundreds of photographs and postcards. All of Forbes' panoramas, prints, postcards, and negatives may total as many as 5,000 images, but there is a significant amount of duplication. Although the Seaver Center has processed prints of some of the negatives, less than 1 percent of the photographs in the Forbes collection have been published.

There is no published biography on Forbes. The most complete biographical information about Forbes is in a dissertation by Sharon E. Dean, "Vision, Social Change, and the American West: The Photographs of Andrew A. Forbes (1862-1921)," New School University, 2002.

(4) Mary Austin, The Children Sing in the Far West (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1928), vii.

(5) Austin, Earth Horizon, 233.

(6) Sue Irwin, California's Eastern Sierra: A Visitor's Guide (Los Olivos, CA: Cachuma Press, 1992), 38-39, 41-42.

(7) Dean, "Vision, Social Change, and the American West," 61. Dean notes Forbes' date of birth as April 21, 1862 as does Ion Bosak, "Andrew A. Forbes--Photographs of the Owens Valley Paiute," The Journal of California Anthropology 2, no. 1 (Summer 1975): 38-59. "A Genealogy of the Descendants of John Forbes who came to America in 1840," located in the Andrew A. Forbes' file at the Eastern California Museum (unpublished, no date), notes the date as April 18, 1862.

(8) "A Genealogy of the Descendants of John Forbes," 9; the photographer I. H. Bonsall had a studio in Arkansas City, Kansas, near the Oklahoma border; Dean, "Vision, Social Change, and the American West," 62; "Forbes, Andrew Alexander 1862-1921," The Handbook of Texas Online, Texas State Historical Association website, http://www., accessed September 24, 2007.

(9) Austin, Earth Horizon, 231.

(10) Austin, Earth Horizon, 234; The Land of Little Rain, 205. Austin spells the Paiute name for Lone Pine Mountain "Opopago" in Earth Horizon and "Oppapago" in The Land of Little Rain.

(11) Austin, The Land of Little Rain, 257.

(12) The 1894 poem "The Coming of the Snow" was revised and copied into Austin's composition notebook as "Sierra Snows." It was published as "Snow" in The Children Sing in the Far West, 47-49.

(13) Austin, The Land of Little Rain, 159, 158, 146, 148.

(14) "A Twilight Hill" was revised for publication in The Land of Sunshine 14, no. 3 (March 1901): 181. It also appeared in Austin's composition notebook.

(15) Esther Lanigan Stineman, Mary Austin: Song of a Maverick (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989), 64.

(16) Austin, Earth Horizon, 112-13; The Land of Little Rain, 219.

(17) "Blue-Eyed Grass," written in 1904, was published in The Children Sing in the Far West, 86. Blue-Eyed Grass actually is not a grass, but its stalks resemble strands of grass with tiny blue buds at the tips. White yarrow has clusters of white flowers. There are many varieties of milkweed, some with creamy-white and maroon blossoms. Thousands of monarch butterflies come to the Eastern Sierra each year to deposit their eggs under the leaves.

(18) Austin, Earth Horizon, 284.

(19) Karen S. Langlois, "Mary Austin and Houghton Mifflin Company: A Case Study in the Marketing of a Western Writer," Western American Literature 23, no. 1 (May 1988): 41.

(20) Examples of Yosemite images by Charles L. Weed and Carleton E. Watkins are in the Early Landscape Photography of the American West collection at the New York Public Library.

(21) Kate Nearpass Ogden, "Sublime Vistas and Scenic Backdrops: Nineteenth-Century Painters and Photographers at Yosemite, California History 69, no. 2 (Summer 1990), 147; Inyo Independent, vol. 36, no. 8 (29 July 1904) and vol. 37, no. 36 (9 February 1906).

(22) Inyo Independent, vol. 34, no. 19 (17 Octo ber 1902); vol. 34, no. 20 (24 October 1902); vol. 34, no. 22 (7 November 1902); vol. 34, no. 37 (20 February 1903); vol. 34 no. 47 (1 May 1903); vol. 35, no. 23 (13 November 1903); and vol. 35, no. 26 (4 December 1903).

(23) "Illustrated Catalog of Forbes Studio," Andrew A. Forbes Collection (n.d.), Seaver Center for Western History Research.

(24) Austin, Earth Horizon, 296.

(25) "We'll Get Our Share," Inyo Independent, vol. 31, no. 39 (9 March 1900).

(26) Austin, The Land of Little Rain, 207.

(27) Inyo Independent, vol. 33, no. 49 (16 May 1902) and vol. 34, no. 20 (24 October 1902).

(28) Austin, The Children Sing in the Far West, 25.

(29) Harry W. Lawton, Philip J. Wilke, Mary DeDecker, and William M. Mason, "Agriculture Among the Paiute of Owens Valley," Journal of California Anthropology 3, no. 1 (1976): 13-50, cited in Sharon E. Dean, Peggy S. Ratcheson, Judith W. Finger, Ellen F. Daus with Craig D. Bates, Weaving a Legacy: Indian Baskets & the People of Owens Valley, California (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2004), 1; Austin, The Land of Little Rain, 163.

(30) Austin, The Land of Little Rain, 174, 177; Karen S. Langlois, "A Fresh Voice from the West: Mary Austin, California, and American Literary Magazines," California History 69, no. 1 (Spring 1990), 28-32.

(31) Mary Austin, "The Song-Makers," North American Review 194 (August 1911): 239-47. In the poem, according to Austin, "Waban" is the Paiute word for "mountain."

(32) Austin, Earth Horizon, 246; Bosak, "Andrew A. Forbes," 42; Austin, The Land of Little Rain, 168.

(33) Bosak, "Andrew A. Forbes," 41.

(34) In 2002, two of Forbes' panoramic photographs were put up at auction; the Fred Holabird Americana's Reno Coin & Stamp Show Auction #13, June 14-15, 2002. One, an unsigned panorama of the Bishop area circa 1910, shows cowboys herding cattle on a ranch against a backdrop of the snowcapped Sierra Nevada. At the right is the town of Bishop; at the left is Lone Pine. The view is to the west-southwest. The other, a signed panorama of the Bishop area circa 1910, shows a herd of grazing sheep on a ranch with Bishop and the White Mountains in the background. It was taken west of Bishop with Boundary Peak, the highest mountain in Nevada (elevation 14,242 feet), at the left and Westgard Pass at the right. In addition, three picture postcards were put up at auction at the Fred Holabird Americana's Auction #15 on September 13, 2002.

(35) Austin, The Land of Little Rain, 258, 205, 184.

(36) Inyo Independent, vol. 36, no. 6 (15 July 1904) and vol. 36, no. 8 (29 July 1904).

(37) Mary Austin to Eve Lummis, 27 July [1905], University of Arizona, Tucson Special Collections Library; Austin, The Land of Little Rain, 186-87, 212.

(38) Mary Austin Collection, AU 57.

(39) Austin, Earth Horizon, 235.

(40) Austin, The Land of Little Rain, 157; Earth Horizon, 250.

(41) Austin, The Children Sing in the Far West, 62-65. In the poem, "Southland" refers not to southern California, but to the Owens Valley. Austin observed that "The carrion crow is larger and glossier than the common crow. Both he and the buzzard will hang on the trail of a flock or a herd for days, on the chance of one falling out to die" (Austin, The Children Sing in the Far West, 179).

(42) "Hallowe'en Party," Inyo Independent, vol. 35, no. 22 (6 November 1903).

(43) Inyo Register (20 July 1905) and Inyo Independent, vol. 37, no. 7 (21 July 1905), cited in Dean, "Vision, Social Change, and the American West," 218. Following decades of litigation, in December 2006 Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa stood at the now bone-dry banks of the Owens River as water flowed into the river, part of a court-mandated river and wetland restoration project.

(44) For further discussion of the events leading up to and following the building of the aqueduct, see Catherine Mulholland, William Mulholland and the Rise of Los Angeles, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000); R. A. Sauder, The Lost Frontier: Water Diversion in the Growth and Destruction of Owens Valley Agriculture (Tucson: The University of Arizona, 1994); William L. Kahrl, Water and Power: The Conflict over Los Angeles' Water Supply in the Owens Valley (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982); John Walton, Western Times and Water Wars (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992).

(45) Inyo Register (3 August 1905); Dean, "Vision, Social Change, and the American West," 220-21.

(46) Austin, Earth Horizon, 307.

(47) Kahrl, Water and Power, 131. For further discussion of Mary and Wallace Austin's protest of the Los Angeles Aqueduct Project, see Abraham Hoffman, Vision or Villainy: Origins of the Owens Valley-Los Angeles Water Controversy (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1981).

(48) Helen McKnight Doyle, Mary Austin: Woman of Genius (New York: Gotham House, 1939), 218.

(49) Wallace S. Austin to George C. Pardee, 24 September 1905, National Archives, Reclamation Service, General File 1902-1919, Record Group 115, File 63-B, "Correspondence re Right of Way Applications in Owens River Valley," quoted in Kahrl, Water and Power, 134.

(50) Inyo Independent, vol. 37, no. 41 (16 March 1906).

(51) Kahrl, Water and Power, 146.

(52) Inyo Independent, vol. 37, no. 36 (9 February 1906).

(53) From "Snow," in Austin, The Children Sing in the Far West, 47-49. In the poem, "hoar pine" refers to a pine that is covered with silvery, frozen dew or "hoarfrost." The tamarack is a lodgepole pine, and spruce and mountain hemlock are also trees that grow in the Eastern Sierra.

KAREN S. LANGLOIS is Professor of Liberal Studies at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. She specializes in American literary and cultural history. Her previous articles on Mary Austin have appeared in Huntington Library Quarterly, Western American Literature, Theatre History, California History, and the Journal of American Culture. She received a PhD in American History from Claremont Graduate University.
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Title Annotation:Mary Hunter Austin and Andrew Alexander Forbes
Author:Langlois, Karen S.
Publication:California History
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 22, 2007
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