Friday, April 22, 2016

Celebrating Earth Day 2016 with
6 awe-inspiring vintage postcards

Today is Earth Day. To mark the occasion appropriately — well, appropriately enough for a blog devoted to coverage of historical items produced from dead trees — here are six vintage postcards showcasing the beauty of various corners of Earth, the only planet we have.

(Click on any of these postcards to see them in their full, larger glory.)

Above: Linen Genuine Curteich-Chicago postcard: "Bat Flight from Cavern Entrance — Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico." Here's an excerpt from the educational text on the back of the postcard:
"This photo was taken from the downward trail in the entrance to the Cavern, looking up. There are an estimated 3,000,000 Bats at times, and the flight covers a period of from two to three hours. This wonderful sight led to the exploration of the Caverns by Jim White. ... The Bats stay in a remote part of the Caverns and are not seen on the regular trips through the Caverns."
The most recent estimate is that about 800,000 bats now reside in Carlsbad Caverns. It is thought that DDT, among other factors, has severely winnowed their population.

Above: John Hinde postcard: "Glencar Lough in the Yeats Country, Co. Sligo, Ireland." From the back of the card, which was postmarked in 1963:
"Situated about 8 miles north-east of Sligo town, this delightful sheet of water stretches eastward for over 2 miles into Co. Leitrim, along a valley which provides some of the loveliest scenery in Ireland."

Above: This the first of two linen Genuine Curteich-Chicago postcards featuring the rock formations near Gallup, New Mexico. This one shows Navajo Church Rock, described on the back as:
"...resembling a a church with its spires. A landmark to be seen for miles. it is like a gem in a mammoth setting of red mesas studded with occasional pinnacles and spires of grey sand stone."

Above: And this second postcard of sites near Gallup showcases No. 1 Pyramid, Red Rocks and, in the far distance, Church Rock. I love the pink clouds in this one. The postcard text states:
"This scene is part of the stretch of red rock formation extending a distance of about 40 miles along Highway 66, seen between Grants and Gallup, N.M. The route is a historic one, as it was first traveled by the Spaniards, later by the U.S. Soldiers and then by the pony express."

Above: This more recent postcard highlights the Throne Canopy at Luray Caverns in northern Virginia. The sprawling underground cavern was first "discovered" by Americans in 1878, although of course it's possible that Native Americans knew about the place long before that.

Above: Finally, here's an undated linen postcard from The Kingston News Service that provides "Greetings From Hunter, N.Y." These "Greetings From..." postcards were made for every conceivable city, town, hamlet and village in the United States, often using the same generic nature scene or roadway. So this specific spot likely cannot be found in Hunter. Still, Hunter's location in the Catskills would certainly seem to lend itself to some peace, beauty and untouched landscape.

Addendum #1

Coincidentally, two of my current #FridayReads are books that are appropriate to the notion of Earth Day:
  • Climate Change: What Everyone Needs to Know, by Joseph Romm
  • Looking for Longleaf: The Fall and Rise of an American Forest, by Lawrence S. Earley

Additionally, the recently published Door to Door: The Magnificent, Maddening, Mysterious World of Transportation, by Edward Humes, (author of Garbology) is on my to-read list.

Addendum #2

Here is a roundup of environment-themed newspaper and magazine articles that I have come across in recent months:

Addendum #3

For a final thing to think about, I'm going to leave you with one of the most Anti-Earth Day postcards in my collection. Crazy freeways, indeed.

1 comment:

  1. The artery running along the left side of the picture is Sunset Boulevard. To the right is the 101 (Hollywood) freeway. The angle of view is toward the south (more or less).

    The four-level freeway structure appears to be in place, which means no earlier than 1953.

    The tallest building in the photo appears to be City Hall (the obelisk-shaped structure behind the letter "S" in "THOSE"). Since the first building to surpass City Hall (namely the Union Bank building) was built in 1968-1969 -- and judging from the use of the slang term "DIG" and the drawing of the airplane -- this card probably originates from the 60's.