Written by URAP Sierra Abasolo, a third-year history major participating in the IMLS, “Strategic Stewardship for Sustaining the Archives of the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology” project. Spring semester 2018.
This photo (MVZ 11158) was captured by Otto Emerson near the base of Mount Diablo in Pine Canyon. The photo shows the camp of Walter E. Bryant and Otto W Emerson in March of 1887. Emerson was known for collecting environmental samples as a sort of hobby of his, so these men may have been out to expand their research.
This photo stood out to me as I was sorting through hundreds of photos because of the extravagant looking tent in the background that caught my attention. The tall stripped tent that comes to a point at the top reminded me of a circus tent. Another aspect I found striking about this photo is how old it is. Most of the photos I have seen are around 1913 or later, but this one was taken in 1887. I was surprised that a photo could have survived over 130 years, and considering photography was not used in the United States until late in the Antebellum period (1812 – 1860).
Another reason I was drawn to this photo was because it was taken at the base of Mount Diablo which is my favorite mountain because I could see it every time I looked out my window. My dad and I also hiked around the base of the mountain several years ago, so I thought it was cool to see such an old photo of one of my favorite places. Also, I plan on climbing to the top with my dad in the next few years.