The earliest known photographs of the American Desert West, all made by Rudolph D’heureuse in 1863
Gold! Silver! And those in Southern California seeking their fortunes against the backdrop of the American Civil War, relations between white settlers, Hispanics, and Native Americans, military exploits, salacious news accounts, greed—and one naturalized German with a camera.
Rudolph d’Heureuse—surveyor, cartographer, civil engineer, mining engineer, oenologist, inventor—who on one momentous journey, photographed the Mojave Road in the Desert West from the shores of the Pacific Ocean to the banks of the Colorado River and the mines of Eldorado Canyon in today’s Nevada. His subjects included San Bernardino, Cajon Pass, and Los Angeles’s seaport, New San Pedro (Wilmington). He did it in 1863, many years before anyone else took the next photo of this desert and its travelers, crossroads, forts, soldiers, and watering holes.
Jeff Lapides is a Southern California jewelry photographer and book designer residing in Sierra Madre who will lead this presentation at the Sierra Madre Library on June 22 at 2 p.m. His previous book designs include Michele Zack’s “Southern California Story: Seeking the Better Life in Sierra Madre,” Elizabeth Pomeroy’s “San Marino: A Centennial History,” and John Robinson’s magnum opus, “Gateways to Southern California.” It was his involvement with Robinson’s work that introduced him to a few of the photographs that are the cornerstones of today’s talk and its accompanying coffee table book, “The Mojave Road in 1863: The Pioneering Photographs of Rudolph d’Heureuse.”