It’s always interesting to compare a photograph taken a century or more ago with the same view today. Aside from the built features, like roads and buildings, it’s interesting to look at changes in vegetation and ask why that may have changed. Here’s an example from Green Creek, 13 miles west of Bodie:
Above: The Green Creek Power Plant, source of electric power for the Standard Mill in Bodie, as shown in an 1894 article by Thomas Leggett. This was probably taken in late spring (notice the patches of snow and the leafless deciduous trees along the creek). Notice too, the scarcity of pine trees near the power house. Below: Green Creek from the same location, in March 2015. Water for the turbines came via ditch and penstock from Dynamo Pond, behind the pines near the left edge of both pictures.
The power house is gone, but its foundations remain, near the center of that stand of aspens that haven’t leafed out yet. Clearly, far more aspens and conifers (both Jeffrey and lodgepole pines) are present today than in 1894. I presume more were present also before the mining era, when many trees throughout the region were cut down for building materials, mine shaft shorings, and fire wood. Were the pines felled to build the power house? Apparently not. Piatt (2011) says workers “erected a powerhouse with materials from the recently abandoned Bulwer-Standard mill.”
Leggett, Thomas H. 1894. Electric Power Transmission Plants and the Use of Electricity in Mining Operations, pp. 413–455 in Twelfth Report of the State Mineralogist (Second Biennial,) Two Years Ending September 15, 1894. California State Mining Bureau, J. J. Crawford, State Mineralogist. (link to Google Books)
Piatt, Michael H. 2011. Developments in Electricity and Bodie’s Long Distance Transmission Line. http://www.bodiehistory.com/power.pdf
Copyright © Tim Messick 2015. All rights reserved.