Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Document 006 (Doc-006): Ghost of a Skeleton Revisited

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Question1: Did the author (Willma Willis Gore) write a previous article about the Salt Tram? If yes, then track it down as well.

Question2: Compare photo 8 to our photo of the Salt Tram dryer foundation to see how much is missing today.

Question 3: Continue to try and track down Bledsoe Photo Co., L. A. Cal. and find some more Bledsoe photos.

Question 4: track down photo contributors to this article: the late Ruth Willis Hunter (aka Mrs. Bev Hunter), Willma Willis Gore, Howard McAfee, Carl and Hazel McAfee (pictured in a photo riding the buckets), John A. Simpson, Edward Shepherd of Independence lost $5,000 in the 1940’s (he did ride in the buckets to inspect his investment).

Question 5: determine location of photo in photo number 7

Doc06 Article Analysis:

Article Title: Ghost of a Skeleton Revisited
By Willma Willis Gore
The Album: Times and Tales of Inyo-Mono
Page 2832
Being a quarterly recounting of the nature and history of two California Counties
Vol. V, No. 4
October 1992
Published quarterly by Chalfant Press, Inc.
Copyright October, 1992

Sample page form the article below - page 4 of 5 (click to enlarge) - bottom of 2 photos in the page below is Photo Number 7:

Synopsis: Short 6 page article on a revisitation of the Salt Tram by the author, who is believed to have written a previous article on the Salt Tram. Contains 9 photos of moderately poor quality, but lists names of those who provided the photos.

Source: Sue found a copy of this article in the Independence Free library in November 2009, where we got our original copy of the publication. Subsequently, we got a copy from Linda B. of Independence, who had 2 original copies of the magazine and was kinda enough to donate one copy to us - Thanks, Linda!!!

Current Status: Our copy of the magazine is in good condition, and at the end of our research, I plan on donating it to the Eastern California Museum for their Salt Tram Library.

Information Rating: (out of a scale of 1, 2, or 3, with 1 being the best information, 2 being so-so, and 3 being worthless or nearly so): 2

Useful Salt Tram Information and Leads: 
  • Ms. Gore was a teenager in the late 1930’s and ran a milk delivery route from Lone Pine to Keeler; she recalled the Salt Tram discharge station as a “landmark we knew then only as a tall ugly skeleton of a building”. 
  • Later, assumedly in the early 1990s, she saw that almost nothing was left [of the Discharge Station]. 
  • In the late 1930’s and ‘40’s, salt buckets still hung on the tram cables. 
  • Tram operated for 9 years between 1913 and 1929 when the tram was removed.  
  • In the 1940’s, the cables and buckets still hung on the towers [assumedly where she could see them from Hwy 126]. 
  • Beneath the north extension of the Discharge Station were bins to hold the salt that have been hauled away [no photos show any such bins; the salt just piled up on the ground]. 
  • 250 buckets [286 buckets]. 
  • Mill could process 70 tons of salt per day [dryer could only dry 20 tons per day?]. 
  • Bucket at Discharge Station contained weathered seats. 
  • 16 square miles of Salt Lake covered in salt to a depth of 30 feet. Long before the tram, placer claims were patented for use by Owens Valley people. 
  • Salt traveled in double wagons drawn by 8 to 10 horse teams. It was hauled north through the upper Saline Valley into Cow Horn Valley to Waucoba Pass in the Inyos, then down to the Valley in the vicinity of Big Pine. 
  • Salt was sold in Bishop for table use and in the Owens Valley for preserving meat; 50 pound sacks were packed into the Sierras for use on the summer cattle range. 
  • White Smith and the SVSC sold stock in 1911 and finished the tram in 1913. 
  • Mexican and Indian workers shoveled the salt into pyramids. 
  • Electricity generated at plants in Owens Valley supplied the power.  
  • Salt was graded and sacked at the Discharge Station for shipment on the Slim Princess, the nickname for the narrow gauge branch of the Southern Pacific Railroad that joined the broadgauge to Los Angeles at Owenyo. 
  • SVSC ceased production in 1913. Between 1913 and 1930 the tram operated under 3 different owners. 30,000 tons of salt were shipped, all told, with the largest shipments being made in 1929 when the tram was renovated. 
  • Total investment was about $1,000,000. 
  • Subsequently, the terminal was dismantled for scrap [or burned in a fire???].
Photographs (none of the photos in the article are dated) - Photo 9 shown below (click to enlarge) - this photo was taken as the bucket was coming into Control Station 4 on the west side of the Inyos:

  1. Bledsoe Panorama with multiple white annotations of the day, only 2 of which are readable: “Mt. Whitney” and “Owens Lake”; does not appear to show any of the Salt Tram, though it could be in the photo but unseen due to low resolution; panorama photo is appears to be crudely stitched together via scissors!; photo courtesy Ruth Willis aka Mrs. Bev Hunter
  2. No. 680, Bledsoe Photo Co., L. A. Cal. Photo of Salt Lake Salt Piles with large groups of salt lake workers far in the background; photo courtesy Ruth Willis aka Mrs. Bev Hunter
  3. No. 585, Bledsoe Photo Co., L. A. Cal. Panorama of Inyo summit, with Salt Tram summit station at far left of photo, with photo looking down into Saline Valley; not all annotations are readable, but they include “Summit ???? elev ???”, “Daisy Canyon”, “Saline Valley Salt Fields”, “Station 11”, “Station 9”; panorama photo is appears to be crudely stitched together via scissors!; no caption for photo.
  4. North end of tramway mill; photo courtesy John A. Simpson.
  5. Tramway mill; photo courtesy Howard McAfee.
  6. Discharge terminal with Willma Simpson (Gore) sitting in a “weathered seat” inside a Salt Tram bucket; photo courtesy John A. Simpson.
  7. Salt Tram carryover station (location not recognized); photo courtesy Willma Gore.
  8. Discharge Station Salt Tram dryer (photo facing east); ); photo courtesy Willma Gore.
  9. Carl and Hazel McAfee joyride the tramway (with tent cabin far below in the background); photo courtesy Howard McAfee.
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