Monthly Archives: May 2015

Green Creek in 1894

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:

Green Creek Power House in 1894

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.

Site of the Green Creek Power House in 2015

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.”

Power Plant foundations
Remains of the Green Creek Power Plant.
Dynamo Pond
Dynamo Pond today.
Dynamo Pond historic marker
Historic marker near Dynamo Pond.

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.

Copyright © Tim Messick 2015. All rights reserved.

Lichens of the Bodie Hills (1)

You can’t wander far in the Bodie Hills without noticing some of the colorful lichens growing on rocks throughout the area. Look closer, and you will see a wide variety of shapes and colors, including some that are inconspicuous at first glance. Nearly all of the lichens in the Bodie Hills are saxicolous (they grow on rocks).

These are some of the lichens found in the Chemung Mine area on the north side of Masonic Mountain—a place where both the flowering and non-flowering floras seem particularly diverse and colorful.


Gold cobblestone lichen, Pleopsidium flavum.

Acarospora rosulata

A brown cobblestone lichen, Acarospora (probably) rosulata.


Desert firedot lichen, Caloplaca elegans


Green rock-posy, Rhizoplaca melanophthalma, is one of the most abundant
and widespread lichens in the Bodie Hills.

Rhizoplaca spp.

Two kinds of “rock-posy”: Rhizoplaca melanophthalma (left)
and Rhizoplaca chrysoleuca (right).

Lecanora garovaglii

Sagebrush Rim-lichen, Lecanora garovaglii (I think).

A rock tripe, Umbilicaria polaris.

Lichen identification gets fairly technical, involving color tests using various chemicals, and microscopic examination of the spores. But a couple of lavishly illustrated books are now available to help the non-specialist identify many lichens from photographs, macroscopic features, and descriptions:

Lichens of North America, by Irwin Brodo, Sylvia Sharnoff, and Stephen Sharnoff. Yale University Press, 2001. (links: Yale U. P. and Amazon)

A Field Guide to California Lichens, by Stephen Sharnoff. Yale University Press, 2014. (links: Yale U. P. and Amazon)

Other good visual resources include Stephen Sharnoff’s on-line lichen gallery and the lichen groups on Flickr, including Lichen Communities of North America, and Lichen.

© Tim Messick 2015. All rights reserved.