Rejected Kodachromes, 1941


I came across a Kodachrome box with a postage label of August 11, 1941. And we’ve seen in a few posts prior that Joel indeed had shot quite a few Kodachrome slides that year. There was the Death Valley trip and some local Stockton images.

So I had high hopes there would be more of the same in there. I loaded the 12 images in a slide holder and this is what I got on the first scan.

Exploratory scan of twelve 1941 slides.

All I could see at first glance is 5 images, some with exposure issues. The other holes had a very faint dark blue hue to them. Clearly severely underexposed images.

In 1941, Joel wouldn’t have been able to pull the information out of these slides since they are at least 4 stops underexposed. But now, 2022, with the wonders of high resolution imaging and digital processing, we can attempt to rescue whatever is left from the scene.

And yes, we can confirm that most of these images are indeed from the Death Valley trip in early April 1941.

Somewhere in Death Valley, April 1941

It’s obvious this slide has seen better days. There’s insufficient information to determine exact location, but it’s clearly a California desert images with a mountain range at the horizon.

The same can be said for the next few images.

Somewhere in a California desert (Death Valley ?), April 1941

There’s a structure in front, at the side of a road. Few other structures and water tank are visible nearby. The wires in the air indicate the location has electricity.


Somewhere on a California mountain pass (Death Valley ?), April 1941

The image below is very similar, just a different focal point in the scene.


Somewhere on a California mountain pass (Death Valley ?), April 1941

Somewhere on a California mountain looking at Death Valley, April 1941
Somewhere on a California mountain looking at Death Valley, April 1941
Mount WhItney at the horizon, April 1941
Mount Whitney, April 1941

We can’t be sure about the tripod holes for the above image, but based on my own experience, this might be very well photographed from Telescope Peak across the Death Valley Basin.

Borax at Trona or Ryan Camp, April 1941

The above image is out of focus but there’s sufficient information that lets me to believe this was at one of the Borax locations, most likely Trona as they had a railroad for transport.

Hoover Dam / Boulder Dam Generator Room, April 1941

The last image, from the Death Valley trip I found in this box, is from the generator room at Boulder Dam. Although the image is out of focus or there was significant camera shake at a low shutter speed, it is a very recognizable location and it looks today very similar as it looked then.

Parade ? College of Pacific ? Stockton ? Before August 5, 1941, ?

I can’t be sure about the time or location for the parade image with the information provided. There was one more parade image in the previous 1941 files, but still … OTOH, there’s room for 12 slides in a box and there are 12 slides in the box.

And Joel wouldn’t be Joel if he didn’t photograph flowers or his Quincy pears …

Quincy pears in Joel’s backyard, 1941

At the bottom of the Kodachrome box, I found a sliver of paper with the mailing and return mailing address at the time. Kodachromes had development and framing included in the cost of the roll of film. So, you had to sent it out to a development center and they would send it back to a pre-filled return address.

Joel documented it all as much as he could.

Shipped to Los Angeles for processing, 1941
… Joel’s return address and proof of date of receipt at the Los Angeles processing department

Next blog post we’ll search for more early press negative boxes in the 1942 time frame.

Cheers !


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