I ran across a trip report by someone who rode their mountain bike up the road and then down the Sand Canyon trail along Wheeler Ridge. Thought you might enjoy the photos too (click on "trip report"). This is a nice one of the store...
We Robys have a reunion with extended family every three years. This year my mom and I were in charge of organizing it, so naturally we chose to hold it in Mammoth Lakes. This was fortuitous for many members of the family who had not been to the Lodge in many years—and for those who had never been there, even though they'd heard stories about it all their lives.
Craig London graciously allowed us to park our caravan at the Lower Corral and I stood on the cabin porch to share a brief outline of the Roby history at Rock Creek.
Photo courtesy of Martha Roby Bader.
We managed to gather almost everyone for a group shot in front of the store.
Note: included in this group are Bob Clark's three kids and one grandson with their spouses, and three of his nieces & nephews with their families—I have noted previously that he built and repaired some of the buildings.
Below are four of the Robys present: Martha, who made an appearance as a little girl in my last post, my cousin David Roby (Jim's son), and of course me and my dad.
We toured the Lodge grounds and shared a few stories before heading up to Rock Creek Lake to spend some time playing in the water.
As you can see, it was one of those perfect July days. It was nice that the canyon welcomed all of us back so generously.
My great-grandmother, Clara Roby, was a photographer. She had her own darkroom and produced beautiful, professional-quality images of her children and grandchildren throughout their lives. Naturally, she also photographed Rock Creek when they were there. This photo was taken from the lower bridge sometime in the late 1940s or early 1950s. You can click on it to view it larger. In the lower right corner, you can see my aunt Martha just above the rocks, and my dad standing next to the tree further downstream. We're not sure if the fisherman by the logs is my grandfather or someone unrelated. Those of you who have spent time there know how little this scene has changed in all these years.
First, I apologize for the long absence here. I got distracted with other things and didn't realize how long it's been since I posted. Here's something quick to share. I just bought this postcard...
If you can make out the handwriting, it says, "Mack's Lake, Rock Creek Basin, Near Rock Creek Lakes Store" and it is a Frashers Foto. What's amusing is that this is not Mack Lake! For those of you who have been there, you might recognize that this is actually Serene Lake. Frasher somehow mislabeled the image. The postcard was never mailed (unless it was sent in an envelope), but someone did write a brief note on it:
"North of camp. We are right near this Lake so Elmer can launch his boat." So whoever wrote this also failed to notice this is not actually "Mack's" Lake. We Robys got a good chuckle envisioning Elmer trying to get his boat to Serene. We suppose it's possible, but certainly not as easy as getting one to Mack would have been. In the early days, you could drive there.
I'm sure this person and Elmer ended up having a wonderful time, regardless of which lake they were near.
Check out this snow bunny! Ha! Just ran across this in a box of old photos.
Yes, this is me on June 9, 1969, according to the handwriting on the back, which looks like my Grandpa Clarence's (Mom's dad). He was obviously there helping to open as usual (and this particular year, rebuild buildings). So when did I make my first appearance at Rock Creek?
Two years earlier, in 1967, when I was just months old. Looks like a proud Papa, huh? And I look as if I'm still trying to figure out where I am. Mom will show me around...
By later that summer, I seem to have settled in...
And by the next year, 1968, I own the place! Look out, here I come...
"I like it here, Daddy!"
In 1971, I am Susie Homemaker, busy with one of my favorite activities, making mud pies.
But wait... now there's someone else hogging the sandbox! One-year-old Kib Jr. interrupts my peace...
and it seems he's decided he likes it here too. (Or is that a scream?)
And this is how it was for the next few years until we were allowed to roam on our own. We spent countless hours in this sandbox and on the slide that dumped into it. And throughout the summer, a stream of other children joined us there. I can almost still taste that wonderful dirt.
Originally, the Lodge was open only during the summer months. My dad and a helper or two would head up in May to do all the preparation necessary to open the cabins, store, and dining room for our summer guests. Surprisingly, for all the years our family owned the place, little damage occurred while it sat unoccupied through the winter.
But 1969 was different. It was a year of record snowfall, and my dad arrived to find that the unusually deep, heavy snow had caved in the roofs of the kitchen/dining room and my parents' cabin. This would require a bit more work than expected! But with the help of Uncle Bob Clark, the buildings were quickly repaired and life went on as usual. (I should note that someone had the wisdom to use metal roofing that would better shed the snow in the future.) I recently ran across these photos of the damage:
the dining room side
the kitchen side
ripped the cabin apart!
P.S. I thought this was amusing when I was talking to my dad about this recently... apparently someone from the Forest Service informed him that our buildings had been damaged. His response was that he was well aware of that fact because he had already repaired them! Were they seriously thinking they were being helpful? Or were they hoping to hear that we would not rebuild?
Before the exciting visual part, a bit of history. When we sold the Lodge, my dad allowed us to take only a few things; we had sold the place "as is," which included furniture, linens, etc. This was difficult for me, because I knew that many of the furnishings had come from family members' homes over the years. How to leave behind all that personal history (even if my dad, and probably others, considered it junk)?
I carefully selected and negotiated so that I could have the most significant things to forever remind me of my home. Remember the old hand-tinted photos that hung in the Lobby? They were at the top of my list. The one most people probably recall was hanging over the fireplace, with the antlers. It was of Serene Lake. In fact, here it is with us Robys (early 1980s). The other two were of Box Lake and Mono Pass.
For all these years they were stored at my parents' house, but a few months ago they started nagging at me and I had my mom unearth them. Boy, were they in worse shape than we remembered! Over forty years of fireplace smoke and neglect had really taken a toll. Chris and I debated what to do about it and ultimately decided that since they probably couldn't get any worse, we would ask the guy who cleans paintings for us see what he could do with them. Well... we could not believe our eyes. Here are the results! (Click on the images to view them full-size.)
Serene Lake, "before"
Serene Lake, "after"
Box Lake, "before"
Box Lake, "after"
Mono Pass, "after" (we didn't take a "before" of this one because it was not as damaged)
All three of these photos were taken by the renowned Burton Frasher, which helped me identify what year this one of Mono Pass was taken. We collect Frasher postcards, so I knew the Pomona Public Library has a collection online. Sure enough, look what I found there...
"On Mono Pass Overlooking Rock Creek Basin "
Courtesy, Frasher Foto Postcard Collection, Pomona Public Library
That's Burton Frasher with his camera. By closely comparing the patches of snow, we quickly concluded that our photo was taken during this very photography session, in 1927! I haven't run across the other two yet, so their origin remains a mystery. I guess we can assume they were taken during a similar time period. My dad is pretty sure all of them were already at the Lodge when my grandparents bought it in 1947.
Isn't this fun?!
If you're interested in photography, I highly recommend visiting the online Frasher Foto Postcard Collection. There are over 5,000 images, including many fantastic Sierra scenes. You can narrow the results by choosing decades or using search terms (like Rock Creek). This page provides a biography and description of his amazing career.
Needless to say, I am thrilled to have this part of my history back in my life and I hope you have enjoyed this "before" and "after" tale.
Wow! Someone is currently selling over 30 photos of "cowboys" or packers in the backcountry, like the one above, and other scenes around the Bishop/Mammoth area taken in the very early 1900s. The information is not any more specific than that, but Devil's Postpile is certainly recognizable, as you can see below. Some of you may be able to identify other locations. Just thought I'd share in case anyone wants to take a peek before they sell (too pricy for me). The auctions end in four days, so be quick! Enjoy...
I am happy to say that this humble little blog is starting to fulfill its purpose (hurray!). I was contacted this week by Jim Bull, Jr., whose family stayed in Cabin 7 at the Lodge in the 1950s and '60s. He ran across the blog and sent this wonderful photo taken in front of the store in 1961 or '62.
Left to right: brother Ben Bull, mother Libby Bull, and Jim Bull, Jr.
The photo was taken by his dad, Jim Bull, Sr.
Jim, thank you so much for sharing. I love hearing about people's experiences and comparing notes on who remembers what (or not!).
I also received a message from Tina (Ferrara) Trotta, who says she visits the blog regularly and enjoys the photos, new and vintage. Like so many others, she grew up visiting Rock Creek and continues to; she even ran into my parents on the trail in Little Lakes Valley a couple years ago. Thanks for contacting me, Tina; it was fun catching up.
I am so pleased that others are enjoying this virtual trip down memory lane. Anyone else out there ready to share?...
I realized I haven't posted anything in a while, so I thought I'd share a couple photos taken on December 28. I shot these from the car as we were heading south in the early morning after a trip to Mammoth. This kind of scenery is what makes it so difficult to leave!