The Epic Effort to Map the West

A Brilliant Geographer and Famous Photographer Teamed Up to Tackle the Nearly Impossible Task of Surveying 19th-Century California

We’ll start in the 1840s, when Western North America was almost wholly empty of European-Americans. To prepare the land for settlement, the United States government sent teams of explorers into the trans-Mississippi West (some of which was Mexico) and tasked them with telling Americans what they might find there. Men such as John C. Fremont found new ways through the then-unknown landscape, identified mountain passes, sources of water and game, and pointed out places that would be attractive for settlement. That sounds simple enough, but as there were few reliable …

To Understand America’s Small Towns, Ask About Their Swimming Holes

Under a Waterfall or Inside an Old Quarry, These DIY Pools Are a Refreshing Way to Connect With Simple Pleasures of the Past

Consider the swimming hole. It lacks the majesty of an ocean or the pedigree of a lake—forget about boating or surfing. A swimming hole is by its very nature utilitarian. …

If Barbie Chang Is More Still

If Barbie Chang is more still than water
            what will happen to her

tumors will they still grow in her if she
  …

Meet the Toughest Mountains in California

The Tehachapi Range May Intimidate High-Speed Rail Builders, but This Stubborn Barrier Actually Ties the State Together

Don’t mess with the Tehachapis.

California has taller mountain ranges, more famous mountain ranges, even more beautiful mountain ranges. But no mountains here are tougher—or more important—than the Tehachapis.

A mishmash of …

Green Gem

Where I Once Caught Lightning Bugs, I Find Myself

Sometimes the places I go are the places I came from. Imprinted from infancy with a sense of belonging, I cannot help but return to the small community of Meadowview, …