List of Exhibit Photographs
Note: the first number for each item in this handlist represents its number in the current exhibition. The second number, if any, refers to its roll and image number according to the system maintained by Richard Light and Mary Upjohn Meader and usually appears on the lower left hand portion of the print. The quotations in this handlist have been taken from the unpublished flight diary of her trip, from Focus on Africa, or from “Atacama Revisited” published in the 1946 volume of the Geographical Review.
South American flight map.
1. 501-30 Lake Texcoco - ancient and modern salt production areas, September 21, 1937 “...we dodged around first one hill, then another, their peaks all cloud covered, until at last, the long lake with salt flats along its shores reflected light into our eyes, and ahead lay Mexico City, all white and very clean-looking – from a thousand-foot height” (Flight diary).
2. Boys playing in puddles after a rainstorm. Guatemala City, September 23, 24, or 25, 1937.
3. Mexico City market women, September 22, 1937.
4. Talara oil refinery, October 2, 1937. “How far away Peru had seemed when we had looked at the map and read about it at home! Unfortunately, it was necessary to fly a short distance above clouds again after leaving Guayaquil, so we never saw the transition from fertile soil to bare, blank desert. Suddenly we came into the clear, and below all was dry, brown, barren ground, covered with crushed rocks and dust. The only habitations for miles were a few dwellings clustered around oil tanks on the coast. Interspersed between dry riverbeds were long flat stretches - ideal landing spots; while inland, low craggy mountains rose gradually from the wide coastal strip. We stopped at Talara, a town on the coast built on, and existing only for oil.
By Jingo this is a nice place! One would hardly expect an oil town in the middle of nowhere to be at all attractive...the water, of course, is all piped from a distant river, and noting grows naturally; yet they have taken the trouble to make the airport as green as possible. There is a wall around the building, inside which is a yard with trees, a bit of grass, and flowers, a great contrast to the surrounding country – dry as a bone and baked brown. A strong and chilly breeze is blowing, kicking up the dust all around.
The town is owned and built by Standard Oil Company of New Jersey (with some Canadian connection), run by gringos with Peruvian labor. We stopped at the hospital where medical service is free for all employees and met Dr. Frazier, a Canadian. Drove through the refinery - natural gas is used, so the place is very clean - and out to look at some of the wells, of which there are some 1700 in use. 40,000 barrels of oil are pumped a day, and an average of one tanker a day fills up here, by means of a line going right out to sea, hitched to a buoy, so that the boats don’t even have to enter the harbor which is small” (Flight Diary). Mary did not have government permission to take photographs over Colombia and Ecuador and her cameras were sealed by customs in the Bellanca’s luggage compartment. Once over the Peruvian border she was allowed to use her 35mm Leica, but not her Fairchild large format aerial camera. Permission to use the Fairchild was granted in Lima, and Mary was able to use it for the rest of her time over Peru. This is one of the aerial photographs taken with the Leica.
5. Chiclayo bullring and plaza, October 2, 1937. “Chiclayo is interesting, very native and quaint, which means that its architecture is developed to a degree, and is not unpleasant. The church, the central plaza, the rows of Beacon Hill houses of all thicknesses and widths, make it really a charming small town. But we were unprepared for the cool air (the Humboldt current?) and slept under our coats and overcoats” (Flight Diary). This is another excellent aerial photograph taken with Mary’s 35mm, hand-held Leica.
6. Overloaded car on the road to La Oroya, Peru, early October, 1937.
7. Llama train on the road to La Oroya, Peru, early October, 1937. “About a hundred miles of good road joins Lima with Oroya. It is really superb mountain road construction, but a bit hair raising in places. The climb starts about 15 miles from Lima at sea level and continues for 3 hours, mostly high gear, but some in second. Often the canyons are very narrow, and the road once does a figure-8 by bridging over itself in a very narrow and deep gorge. The lower portion of the valley is productive, sugar, corn and wheat, alfalfa (many cattle seen). Finally, uip at the level of the old Inca terraces, nothing but stony river bottoms and a brownish grass on the slopes. Here the llamas begin to appear, first in pairs, later in flocks. The road is sunny, for the coastal overcast soon is left behind” (Flight Diary).
8. Plaza de Armas, Arequipa, Portal de la Municipalidad Street, October 9, 1937. The city of Arequipa has many fine colonial buildings made of sillar, a white volcanic stone. It is dominated by the spectacular Misti volcano. Before its official Spanish foundation on August 15, 1540, Arequipa was occupied by Ayamara Indians and by the Inca. It is the main commercial center of southern Peru. In this ground photograph, taken from her hotel balcony, Mary Meader captured the colonial architecture and gardens of the “White City” as they were in the late 1930s.
9. Town in the Sierra de Lima, possibly Santa Eulalia or San Damian, early October, 1937.
10. 505-32 Upper portion of the Ica Valley, October 9, 1937. The fertile Ica Valley on Peru’s south coast is the center of the country’s wine industry. It is famous for its Pisco, a distinctive brandy made only in Peru and Chile. In a part of the world where oases and irrigable valleys are separated by expanses of desert, the Ica Valley contains many pre-Hispanic archaeological sites.
11. 505-24 Río Grande de Nazca Valley, October 9, 1937. On the right hand portion of the photograph, beyond the irrigated fields, one can see a few of Nazca’s trapezoidal and linear geoglyphs. This, and photograph number 505-25, number 8 in this exhibition, are the two earliest photographs yet identified of any of the Nazca lines. Mary Meader was unaware of these ground drawings when she photographed them. An archaeological site is visible at the edge of the cultivated area, upper left. Also, note the trapezoidal Nazca lines visible on ridges between the valleys.
12. Chan Chan archaeological site October 3, 1937. “What a sight – 70,000 people once lived within these walls. Made of dun-colored clay mixture, thick walls mark out houses and rooms where an unknown people once lived; lived no doubt, just as do people anywhere else in the world, for from above we saw it all laid out so regularly, a great wall enclosing the whole, here and there a deep round hole that must have been wells to give those people water to drink, wash and cook with, life for their animals. Probably it had been surrounded by green fields of maize, laboriously plowed by hand and irrigated from some long dried-up river” (Flight Diary).
Like the ruins, the Trujillo airport is enclosed by a wall, which is not an advantage to an airplane, especially if that wall surrounds only a small plot which is bumpy and downhill. On the second try, we landed, rolled to a stop, and quickly got a car to drive over to the ruins. In any other country, that building material would long ago have been washed away by rain, but on the Peruvian desert there is no rain, so the walls, even with strange designs cut into them, remain well-preserved.”
The vast adobe city of Chan Chan was the capital of the pre-Hispanic Chimor [Chimu] state which flourished on Peru’s north coast from around A.D. 850 until its conquest by the Incas. It was already an established tourist site by the 1930s. The “deep round hole[s]” mentioned in the flight diary seem to be the distinctive walk-in wells which supplied the city with water.
13. 504-18 En route, flight from Arequipa to Tacna - line formation, October 9, 1937. Because of gaps in the flight diary, it is difficult to determine where photographs were taken on this flight. The distinctive line formation on this photograph awaits identification.
14. 504-1 En route, flight from Arequipa to Tacna, Arequipa Valley, probably Characato, Oct. 9, 1937. Note the town, cultivated fields, and abandoned fields.
15. The Bellanca being refueled at Arequipa with Misti volcano in the background, October 9 or 10, 1937. “The green snowy meadows turned up, and these healded the arrival of El Misti, the perfect 19,000 feet volcano that marks Arequipa” (Flight Diary).
16. Arequipa Peru, Cerro Colorado and the Zamacóla irrigation canal, October 9 or 10, 1937.
17. 505-5 Ground photograph of countryside around Arequipa, Peru showing the valley of the Chili River and the Tingo cultivated area, October 9 or 10, 1937.“The countryside around Arequipa was lovely, irrigation making the fields highly productive. Wheat the chief product this year, and they seem overloaded with it. Corn, alfalfa also raised. The ditches are said to date back to the Incas, and the valley is old, to judge by the trees. We used the last few pictures of the Fairchild to get representative glimpses of farming, etc. Saw the swimming pools in a nearby town, and got mixed up with a 200 car parade in celebration of free roads which were declared a year ago (no toll)” (Flight Diary). Mary sometimes took ground photographs with her aerial camera. This is one example.
18. Matilla Oasis, northern Chile, October 12, 1937. Matilla, together with Pica, a few kilometers distant, is an ancient oasis. During Spanish colonial times it was an important wine growing location. Gradually production shifted to mixed fruit cultivation. In 1940 Matilla had a population of 186.
This photograph was published in “Atacama Revisited: Desert Trails from the Air” by Mary and Richard Light, Geographical Review 36(4), 1946, figure 6.
19. 506-13 Pica Oasis, Chile, October 12, 1937. “The town of Pica soon came into view, a small, well laid-out town, with orderly rows of citrus fruit trees marching in back of the houses. These trees were the only spot of green in all that desert stretch, no water supply was visible from above, but there must have been one. How odd it seemed, people living up there, miles from anything, surrounded by miles of sand, yet living in an ordinary way tending their trees. Their only link with other people seemed to be the railroad track we could see running southward, which carries the fruit to Chile’s cities” (Flight Diary).
Mary often captured features she did not recognize when flying over them. A good example is the puquios or filtration galleries of the northern Chilean oases. These underground water channels are visible as lines of shafts (lumbreras) marked by donut-shaped mounds of sand removed from them during construction and cleaning. One line can be seen at the lower left of the photograph moving toward the center. More wells beyond the town are visible in the upper portion of the photograph. Construction of the Pica puquios began in the late seventeenth century and they have been maintained until recently. In 1940 Pica had a population of 946.
Later, in “Atacama Revisited” Mary and Richard wrote “Oases exist and these not only support the traveler, but, through the ingenious use of collecting tunnels which reach the water table produce sufficient water to permit limited irrigation of gardens” (p. 527).
20. 506-2 Road through the Atacama Desert near Iquique, Chile, October 12, 1937. “The desert of Atacama is one of the vastest, lonesomest spots in the world. After following the coast to Iquique, which was invisible with clouds, we turned inland to go over the interior plateau following the route taken by Isaiah Bowman with a mule in 1914, about which he subsequently wrote Desert Trails of Atacama. First we crossed the nitrate desert, a huge long strip of flat white sand, where mines are busily pulling in nitrates for the world’s market” (Flight Diary).
21. 507-9 Salar de Atacama, ten miles SE of San Pedro de Atacama, October 13, 1937. Covering some 300,000 hectares, the Salar de Atacama is the third largest salt flat in the world. It is rich in industrial minerals including borax and potassium, and has forty percent of the world’s lithium. Parts of the Salar are included in Chile’s flamingo reserve.
22. 507-23 Mt. Llullaillaco, October 14, 1937. Mt. Llullaillaco is a 6,723 meter dormant volcano (last eruption 1877) spanning the border of Argentina and Chile at 24º43'S, 68º33'W. It is the second highest volcano in the world and the sixth highest peak in the Andes. Near the summit, in 1999, mountaineer archaeologist Johan Reinhard discovered a shrine where the Incas sacrificed and entombed three children, a boy and two girls, between the ages of eight and fifteen at the time of their deaths. These burials provide tangible evidence for the capacocha, one of the Incas’ most important religious rites. More than twenty similar burials have been found on other Andean mountains by Reinhard and others and historical documents describe the rite. The human remains and artifacts recovered from Llullaillaco are housed in a museum in Salta, Argentina where they have become the focus of controversy.
23. 508-4 Vallenar, Chile, October 14, 1937. Vallenar is the chief town of Chile’s Huasco Valley, 194 kilometers north of La Serena. This photograph has been published in “Atacama Revisited: Desert Trails from the Air” by Mary and Richard Light, Geographical Review 36(4), 1946, figure 11.
24. La Serena, Chile. Founded in 1544, La Serena is now the capital of Chile’s IV Region. Destroyed by Indians two years later, it was rebuilt in 1549 and sacked by English pirates in 1680. It is the site of many colonial churches and monastic establishments. It experienced a nineteenth century copper mining boom. In 1948, shortly after Mary Meader photographed La Serena from above, Chilean President Gabriel González Videla, ordered the drafting of the “Plan Serena” to transform his native city. The Avenida Francisco de Aguirre was modernized and the Pedro de Valdivia gardens west of the city were constructed. New buildings in the center were to resemble colonial structures. This regulation has since been relaxed. Internationally, La Serena is now most famous as a jumping off point for the astronomical observatories which take advantage of the clear and dry atmosphere at the high altitudes of its hinterland.
This photograph has been published in “Atacama Revisited: Desert Trails from the Air” by Mary and Richard Light, Geographical Review 36(4), 1946, figure 15.
25. 508-14 La Ligua, Chile, cattle and sheep hacienda, October 14, 1937. “The Ligua Valley was certainly a pretty sight from above, and the hacienda, to which we looked jealously, was dozing beside its pond” (Flight Diary).
These two overlapping photographs provide a good view of a working hacienda with its vast herds and luxurious main house. One was published in “Atacama Revisited: Desert Trails from the Air” by Mary and Richard Light, Geographical Review 36(4), 1946, figure 17.62. 508-7 La Serena, Chile, October 13, 1937.
26. La Ligua, Chile, cattle and sheep hacienda, October 14, 1937.
27. Crossing the Andes from Santiago to Mendoza, October 19, 1937. “Crossing the Andes! It is an Event, one to look forward to, and back upon. I had looked forward too far however, asking pilots all along the way what the trip should be like. One told me, ‘Well, one time I was taking a big Douglas transport across, and, bumpy? Why, those air currents turned us right upside down before I knew what had happened.’ Hesitantly, I asked another if it would be very cold. ‘Cold?’ he said, ‘one day I went across with a broken heater in my ship and we had to go up to 27,000'. The needle of the thermometer went around to 30º below zero, and then bent itself around the pin!
The morning of October 19 was bright and warm. We sat at the airport making a radio contact with Mendoza, on the other side of the peaks, to ascertain if the weather were good. About 10 o’clock they reported it was all right, so we took off from Santiago, climbing upward and northward 50 miles to the pass, the floor of which is 13,000' and the top 22,000'. . .
I suppose it is useless to describe, or try to describe, the Andes of this region. One absolutely must cross them to realize what the sight is. Brilliant white everywhere, punctuated with black jagged rocks, deep pennine rills, high cascades of water, glaciers twisting down from above seemingly hung on the wall, and the nearness of it! Not a picture to gaze at, nor seen through a telescope, but a portion of your path over which you are moving. Giant corners of rock reaching up to touch the wing tips, great crevasses floating by beneath, ready to absorb the magic carpet if the wand ceases to exert its charm. There we were at 18,000', looking upward! The prismatic shape of Ancocagua, so high above the rest that it seems to come from the ocean. Snow blowing off its mount – or is that a banner cloud?” (Flight Diary).
28. 508-33 Railroad yards, Santiago, Chile, October 14, 1937. “Then the dive, and a circle or two over Santiago, which is so big, with its 700,000 people in one-story houses with patios, that no picture should show it. It rests in a wide green valley, surrounded by mountains, whith the tall peaks of the Andes peeriing out between fluffy clouds beyond” (Flight Diary).
29. 510-8 Mendoza, Argentina forma urbis, October 19, 1937. “Mendoza was lovely, and deserves a chapter by itself. . . The town seems to revive one after the faintly oppressive west coast. The air is clear and bracing, the sound of running water comes from every gutter, the trees and flowers, the great expanse of vista towards the mountains on the west and over the pampa on the east – we thought it nicer than anything since leaving home. . . The park, a huge expanse of woods, with flowering things, a rose garden, a great bathing pool so long that rowing races are held there, leads up to a hill on top of which a huge statuary group has been placed, dedicated to San Martín who organized his army there to march across the Andes to Chile” (Flight Diary).
30. 510-16 Santa Fe, Argentina forma urbis. Transferred to its present site in 1660, low-lying Santa Fe is the capital of its province and was once an important port.
31. 510-14 East of Felicia, Argentina. This interesting view shows a town on the Argentina pampa which had not yet grown into its ideal Spanish grid plan.
32. 510-33 Buenos Aires, October 22, 1937. This is a view west along the Avenida de Mayo with the Casa Rosada presidential palace in the foreground facing the Plaza de Mayo.
33. 510-35 Buenos Aires, Harbor and Jorge Newberry airfield on the delta of the River Plate, October 22, 1937. “The sight of Buenos Aires made up for any previous dullness. Wide streets flowing out from the center are interrupted at every corner by a statue or monument; it is a veritable sculptor’s paradise. Several race-tracks are visible from above...large white marble buildings line the avenues, and numerous parks intersperse the white with deep green” (Flight Diary).
34. The Bellanca being transported through the streets of Rio de Janiero, Brazil. In order to get the Bellanca to Africa to continue the aerial exploration of southern continents, its wings were removed and the plane was put aboard a Japanese cargo ship.
African flight map.
35. Cultivation on steep slopes of the upper Orange River, Basutoland. In the late 1930 a colonial program was underway to westernize Basuto agriculture and animal husbandry, making it more “scientific”. An ecological survey party working in the mountains in 1938 reported that “ . . . the soils, due to the favorable composition of the parent rock, seem to be definitely of unusual fertility. This is reflected also by the conditions which stock maintain and the excellent crops of wheat and peas where adequate cultivation has been given.” (Focus, p. 46). Below 7500 feet even slopes of extreme declivity were cultivated and ultimately became denuded. Note volcanic cone towards middle of photo. Photo 47 in Focus on Africa.
36. Mukobela’s Village, Namwala, Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia), December 4, 1937. This organic settlement design is the most reprinted of Mary’s photos. The community no longer exists. The Chief’s kraal is in the center and the wealthy residential area is marked by large cattle enclosures. Animals returned to their kraals via the lower status part of the circle which was down wind. Note the ground markings of earlier kraals. For three months of the year, in the rainy season, this settlement was cut off from the rest of the world except for a weekly runner who carried mail. Children had to be guarded from crocodiles at this time. Photo 110 in Focus on Africa.
37. Detail of Mukobela’s Village.
38. Dar Es Salaam Waterfront, Dec. 9 or 11, 1937.Although Dar Es Salaam is no longer the official capital of Tanzania, many government offices are still located here.
39. The airport at Nairobi. “An interesting feature is the encompassing barrier for the purpose of keeping wildebeeste, zebra, and other game off the field” (caption, Photo 207, Focus). Although high airport walls or fences could be barriers to safe landings at African and South American airports, they were sometimes necessary.
40. The Ripon Falls, January 4-6, 1938. Here the White Nile exits the northern end of Lake Victoria. The falls are crossed by a railroad bridge. The town of Jinja is at the upper left. Photo 278 in Focus on Africa. Mary entitled this image “The Birth of the Nile”.
41-44. Four Views of African Mountains. Mary photographed many African mountains for the first time including the Ruwenzori Mountains, made famous by Gorillas in the Mist, a memoir by naturalist Dian Fossey who for years observed animals in the wild. Mary’s photos Kilimanjaro from above are especially valuable for their record of the snow-fields in early 1938.
45. Village near Juba, Sudan, January 20 or 21, 1938.
“We came to a dry river course and saw standing on the farther bank a village of conical huts, with thatching overlaid in rings in the manner of shingles. This village belonged to one of the Bari tribes, and both the people and their settlement suggested a greater degree of prosperity than I had judged possible from the poverty of the landscape as seen from aloft. Water was at hand merely by digging a shallow well in the river bed, and the numerous corncribs were apparently well filled. We saw no cattle, but the corrals were tight and in use. It must have been a Monday; washwomen were hard at work near the well, and more clothes were on the way. What distinction assigned the doing of the laundry to one group, the carrying of charcoal to the city to another, and permitted pipe smoking and a life of leisure to a third. I cannot say. Certain it is that none of the numerous men and boys about were doing any work at all” (Focus, pp. 182-183).
46. The Nile Valley and the Pyramids of Giza, January 23, 24, or 26, 1938. Today metropolitan Cairo has spread right around the area of the famous Great Pyramids. However, when Mary Meader photographed them in 1938 irrigated fields came quite close, inspiring her title for this picture, “The Desert and the Sown”.
47. Old Aswan Low Dam, January 23, 24, or 26, 1938.
Initial dam construction occurred from 1899 to 1902. However, the design soon proved inadequate and the dam was heightened between 1907 to 1912. The dam height was increased again from 1929 to 1933. It is this last construction phase that is captured in Mary Meader’s photo. When the dam nearly overflowed in 1946 it was decided to build a High Dam which was accomplished during the 1960s. Photo 293 in Focus on Africa.
48. Cairo, January 24 or 26, 1938. “Cairo from the air is an engaging scene, with its mixture of modern and ancient, the square steel structures of Europe and the blunted masonry of the East. Numerous mosques dot the city, and in one area the broken wall of an old aqueduct stands out. Best of all we liked the view westward because it emphasized the prolific influence of the river, throwing up its wealthy cities and verdant countryside against the bleak pallor of desert Egypt” (Focus, p. 188).
The Bellanca CH-400 Skyrocket. During the 1920s and 1930s, the Bellanca Aircraft Corporation of New Castle, Delaware, built a succession of single-engine, fixed-undercarriage, high-wing monoplanes that were used by flyers who wanted tough and economical machines. One of the most important design features of all Bellanca airplanes was their long range, which made them very attractive to pioneering pilots. This was achieved in part by their innovative wing strut design that provided extra lift.
The CH-400 Skyrocket type Mary Meader used for her 1937-1938 flights over the Americas and Africa was based on the CH-300 Pacemaker, and first flew in 1930. Mary’s airplane (registration NC 15300) was one of the ten or so Skyrocket 31-50 and -55 “Senior” models, put into service in June 1935 and designed to carry six persons. These were powered by a Pratt & Whitney S3H1 Wasp, a nine-cylinder radial engine that in this version could produce 550 horsepower with supercharging. This particular airplane carried 200 gallons of gasoline in tanks in the wings and had a range of about 1,000 miles, flying at speeds of about 145-150 miles per hour at a normal cruising altitude of 10-15,000 feet. However, during the flight over the Andes between Santiago de Chile and Mendoza in Argentina, the airplane went to 23,000 feet, near its design maximum of about 25,000 feet. The airplane used for this flight was fitted with an oxygen tank, but was not pressurized, insulated or heated.
Bellanca aircraft were widely used by the US forces as transport aircraft. They were also used by the Royal Canadian Air Force and by private pilots in the Canadian Arctic until well after the Second World War. Bush pilots valued their simple construction, resilience, and easy adaptability to skis, floats, or wheels.
Where credit is due:
Without the talent, courage, and generosity of Mary Upjohn Meader, this exhibition would not have been possible. Her husband, the late Edwin E. Meader has also been outstanding in his moral and practical support. Monica Barnes, David Dickason, David Fleming, Greg Anderson, Nick Forfinski, Alison Manwaring, and Jeroen Wagendorp, together created this exhibition. The digital prints in this exhibition were made from the contacts by David Dickason and his team at Western Michigan University. David Dickason, Monica Barnes, Pablo de la Vera Cruz Chávez, and Ramiro Matos Mendieta identified the subjects of the photos and Monica Barnes wrote the handlist, incorporating extracts from Focus on Africa, “Atacama Revisited” (Geographical Review [vol. 36, no. 4] 1946), and Richard Light and Mary Upjohn’s unpublished flight diary. Copies of the diary are in the Library of the American Geographical Society at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee and at the Library of the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colorado. David Fleming made the model of the Bellanca airplane and its engine and contributed the description of the aircraft. Christopher Baruth and Joanna Ristic of the American Geographical Society Library provided access to Mary Meader’s contact prints. Mary Lynne Bird made available Richard U. Light’s correspondence at the American Geographical Society headquarters, New York City. Gretchen Faulkner and the staff of the Hudson Museum, University of Maine, Orono, made the captions. Ben Reed allowed us to study and photograph the Bellanca on display at the Virginia Aviation Museum, Richmond, Virginia. “High Adventure” opened at the Society of Women Geographers in October, 2005. It has also been displayed at the Hudson Museum of the University of Maine in the summer of 2006 and at the Brazos Valley Museum of Natural History in the fall of 2006. William I. Woods and Jerome E. Dobson made arrangements for this 2007 exhibition at the University of Kansas, Lawrence. Doug Bergstrom, Thomas Hardy, Maggie Hester, Bruce Scherting, Emily Stamey, and Jordan Yochim installed the exhibition at the University of Kansas.