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DEATH VALLEY

Uses of the Desert

a photo essay of favorite sightings, observations and places

wildflowers
 Although the desert can be a harsh
environment in which to live, with
summer temperatures reaching upwards
of 130 degrees, Death Valley has been
inhabited by humans for thousands of
years.
 While the population of the desert has never been very high, people have used the desert differently, as evi-
denced by what they left behind.
wildlife These pictographs were left by Native Americans
living in Death Valley a thousand years ago. They were made by tapping the rock face with another rock to form the images. The close-up shows some of the images on the rock. Can you guess what the message might be about?
panorama
Mining has always played a large role in how the desert was settled. This photo of a miner's cabin, found on the road to Chloride Cliffs is called "Uncle Jack's Cabin"--a reference to miners saving money to bring "Uncle Jack" over from Europe. This spartan cabin has not changed much over the years and it is occasionally used as a stop-over by travelers on these backroads.  
 Not all miners were suc-
cessful and some simply walked away from their belongings.
The dry desert air slows down the decay of anything left behind. A more recent visitor left behind his own message.
 
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uses of the desert

 More prosaic "desert decorations" can be found on the road to Ryolite--the pot tree.
 
 
 Ryolite was a silver mining town in Nevada that came and went within a 5 year span of time. Today a few ruins are left behind. Interestingly, surrounding this historic landmark are current and profitable mining operations.
 This bottle house was built by Tom Kelly in 1905, using 51,000 bottles!  

 

This web page is under the supervision of Dr. Patricia Backer. She can be reached at pabacker@email.sjsu.edu or by phone at (408) 924-3214. This page was last updated on February 03, 2000 .