Pacific Swell | Southern California environment news and trends

Eastern California Museum shows us what the eastern Sierra, lower Owens could look like

There's been a lot on the eastern Sierra lately, on this blog. I just wanted to make a quick pitch for the fascinating resource that is the Eastern California Museum. 

I was in this spot the other day-but I couldn't tell till later. If you listened to my story on the radio today you heard Mike Prather talking about a river mosaic - "Wetlands and meadows, closed tree canopies, shrubby understory, cattail bullrush tule-type things." This first picture now lives in the Eastern California Museum; it was taken by Andrew A. Forbes, who had a photography shop in Bishop between 1902-1916. Where these willows and cottonwoods were doing their thing before the 1920s, we've now got tule, tule, tule.

This next one, I snapped. The guy in red is Larry Freilich - Inyo County water department's mitigations projects manager, and I'm facing slightly sideways, while the picture above is facing downstream. But it's pretty close to the same spot.  

Here's the bridge across the lower Owens - the wider, undiverted lower Owens. A.A. Forbes, again, and can you imagine how long it took to set up a camera in those days? 

Here's the side of one of those trestles - looking back toward the west. I did love the local graffiti. 

Seeing the contrast of the before-diversion and after-rewatering eras in these pictures really underlines what California was like before people started messing around with it. 

The Eastern California Museum is open every day, 10-5, and it's FREE. They're doing a photography exhibit till next spring on Andrew A. Forbes and another guy, Edward S. Curtis - duck off the 395 in Independence the next time you're in the hood.