First timer? In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-four-or-five days blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48). I call this “landing.” I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near. I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location. To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is) please see “About Landing” above. To check out some recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”
Landing number 2278; A Landing A Day blog post number 708.
Dan: Geez. California again?!? California was oversubscribed (OS) for my most recent landing. Twice in a row? Now it’s more OS than ever . . .
This is my 7th California double, and my 59th double overall.
Here’s my regional landing map:
And my local landing map.
You see two non-titular towns (Independence and Lone Pine), that I’m not featuring because I featured them in previous posts:
Independence, featured in a August 12, 2009 post. Type “Independence” in the search box. There are lots of pretty pictures; it also features a Japanese internment camp, “Manzanar.”
Lone Pine, featured in a February 15, 2009 post. Type (you guessed it) “Lone Pine” in the search box. Lots more pretty pictures, and a discussion of a huge 1872 earthquake.
Recently, I featured the Owens Valley (and the 1872 earthquake once again) in my May 2016 Bishop post. You’re on your own to find it.
So, I decided to feature the town of Owenyo and the adjacent Saline Valley.
But first, I need to do my watershed analysis, which requires a look at Google Earth. Click HERE for my GE spaceflight on in to SE California.
It’s obvious that I landed in the mountains, but where does a drop of water end up that falls on my landing?
Here’s an oblique GE shot, looking west:
It’s obvious now that I’m on the eastern slope of the mountain range and in the Saline Valley watershed.
Here’s another, more local shot (looking northeast, with the Saline Valley in the background):
And yet another, looking southeast towards the valley:
Here’s the overview:
See the whitest area in the Saline Valley? That’s the low spot where my drainage ends up. And yes, this was my first landing in the Saline Valley.
More about the Valley later, but I’ll jump over to my titular town, Owenyo. From Wiki:
Owenyo was an unincorporated community in Inyo County, California.
[Note key word, “was.”]
The town (formerly known as “New Owenyo”) was abandoned in the 1960s, and all that remain now are a few traces of building foundations. There are no standing structures and no inhabitants in or anywhere near Owenyo, which remains on 21st century maps only as a reference point along the bleak, unkempt and itself abandoned Owenyo-Lone Pine Road which runs about two miles east of, and parallel, Highway 395.
[I like the phrase “the bleak, unkempt and itself abandoned . . .” What a strange word “unkempt” is. Whoever heard of “kempt??”]
Owenyo’s original townsite was a few miles from its current location. The town, whose name is a portmanteau of Owens (from Owens Valley) and Inyo (an Indian name for the mountain range just east of town), was originally started by Quaker colonists in 1900.
The Quakers sold out in 1905, when the Carson and Colorado Railroad arrived, establishing the town as a transfer point for freight to be carried by the narrow-gauge railway which began there, serving points southward.
[More about the Quakers later.]
A post office operated at Owenyo from 1902 to 1905 and from 1916 to 1941. The town moved to its present location in 1910, and for a while was known as New Owenyo on that account.
Here’s a GE shot of all that remains of Owenyo:
A gentleman name of Bill Cook has photo documented these remains on GE Panoramio. Here’s the foundation of an erstwhile water tank:
And some railroad ties showing the former railroad-based history of the town:
Bill claims that one can see “traces of the standard gauge Y track” in this photo. I don’t see anything, but like the shot anyway:
So what about the origins of Owenyo as a Quaker settlement? What motivated them and why would they pick here? Evidently, they thought there was plenty of water and that fruit would grow in fertile soils. Here’s a 1902 advertisement:
Here’s what the National Park Service says (in an historic write-up about nearby Manzanar internment camp):
The Quakers dug some 42 miles of irrigation canals ranging in width from 18 to 50 feet, but it soon became apparent that the settlers, most of whom were from the East, were unprepared to work the arid lands of Owens Valley.
1901/02 was probably an extraordinarily wet year, and it fooled everyone. Oh, well. It seemed like a good idea at the time . . .
Moving over to the Saline Valley. What I found of most interest was the Saline Valley Salt tram. Here’s the story (in my own words, but thanks to Death Valley Jim’s write-up on deathvalleyjim.com).
Borax mining began in the Valley in the late 1800s (20-mule team and all that). The borax was hauled out by wagon, and it was noted by the haulers that a large deposit of salt was in the Valley (at the low spot previously mentioned). Some of this salt was dug out and hauled out by wagon along with the borax.
There was a better market for salt than for borax, so for several years, only salt was hauled out. But hauling expenses remained high, and the project was abandoned.
In 1902, a Mr. White Smith figured that a tram could be built to move salt more efficiently from the Saline Valley, up and over the Inyo Mountains to Owens Valley, where rail transportation was available. (Remember Owenyo?).
So a tram was built (although it didn’t go into operation until 1913). It ran continuously for two years, and then intermittently afterward. Here’s a picture of some remaining tram towers from Death Valley Jim’s webite:
He tells a heck of a story about the tram (with lots of great pictures), and I recommend that you go to his website. Click HERE to check it out.
I’ll close with this shot of the low point of Saline Valley, with some rare water actually in the playa (GE Panoramio shot by SierraBasin):
That’ll do it . . .
© 2016 A Landing A Day