April 8, 1941


Joe Louis beats Tony Musto by technical knockout in the 9th round at the Arena, Saint Louis, Missouri to retain NYSAC heavyweight boxing crown.

Joel Dardis is in the ghost town of Rhyolite, Nevada to take a look at the Bottle House tourist attraction. There are 3 glass bottle houses in Rhyolite and Tom Kelly’s, the original from 1906, is the most famous one.

FIrst image found in this series is an abstract. Glass and other trinkets strewn on the ground around some cacti.

Bottle House Garbage at Rhyolite

The second image shows us some detail of the wall and roofline. Guided tours of the house were available in 1941 and would be most likely be done by Lewis Murphy, the caretaker from 1936 until 1954. (Paramount Pictures used it for a movie set in 1925.)

I can attest that this roofline is not around any more.

Bottle House, Rhyolite, April 8, 1941.

Tom Kelly collected 50,000 bottles in less than six months, enough  to build a three-room house, complete with a porch and quaint gingerbread trim. (There were 50 saloons operating in Rhyolite at the time … )

Inside, the walls were plastered like a real city home. To miners of the day, this was a castle. The house was finished in February 1906 and raffled off to the Bennett family.

Unnamed young woman posing at the Bottle House, Rhyolite, Nevada on April 8, 1941.

Not sure how many snapshots were taken that day against that wall or, let’s face it, the amount of snapshots taken over the lifetime of that house in Rhyolite.

Betty WIlson, Rhyolite, Nevada, near the Bottle House. April 8, 1941.

The slide of Betty Wilson (Betty Jane WIlson, 1926 ?) is slightly out of focus which makes me to believe that Joel used a somewhat basic 35mm camera to take these images. 35mm format was considered a miniature format and the lenses of the day didn’t have sufficient sharpness to get the maximum detail. Normal format in those days for amateurs and semi-professionals was 120 and 620 film, 2 1/4″ wide on the smallest side. This 120 and 220 format are still considered professional formats, 121 years after introduction into the market.

Desert Kangaroo rat

Hard not to take a picture of a desert kangaroo rat This small mammal is perfectly adapted for life in the desert, no, they don’t make good pets. There’s no identification for the young man, there’s simply insufficient detail in this shot to read the card on his shirt.

Desert Poppy, April 8, 1941

Not a surprise that we find flower pictures amongst the “must-haves” for Joel.

Desert Poppy, April 8, 1941.

The next few images are from Scotty’s Castle, a short 20 mile drive from Rhyolite. Make no mistake, these 20 miles can take you 2 hours to get there.

Scotty’s Castle Abstract, April 8, 1941

It is nice to see Joel take an abstract of the Castle rather than the tourist panoramic shot. The arch with the stepped wall arrange for a nice composition.

Scotty’s Castle, Roof View, April 8, 1941.

The Kodachrome above is a nice view of the roof and wind vane with snow topped mountains in the distance.

Cactus Pot in an Abstraction.

Yes, last image of that day I found is an abstract, with a prickly plant. A play of shadow and light.

It is not clear what happened on April 7, with only a single image to go on. Maybe there were more ? This is over 80 years ago and it is hard to believe that these slides held up this well.

In any case, the group is traveling to the North from the South. This may have been very well an event organized by Troop 225 from Camarillo, with a group from Stockton piggy-backing along.

Next blogpost, more Death Valley at a time when the United States was not at war yet.

Cheers !


2 responses to “April 8, 1941”

  1. Having spent a lot of time in Rhyolite, I live close by , I am fascinated by the early photo’s and the differences in the restoration of the bottle house…..

    Liked by 1 person

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