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GOLD MINERS HAVE LEFT THEIR TELLTALE TRACES IN THESE WHITE SANDS In California, the "Forty-niners" located rich gold workings on the east slopes of the Sierra Nevada. For many years the débris and tailings from these mines were dumped without restriction into the nearest stream bed. To-day, under present laws, mining operations must be conducted so that the tailings are impounded. Here we see two mountain creeks at their junction, pursuing a snakelike course through the bed of sand which has resulted from the placer workings farther up the mountain sides.

Our goal now seemed just over the horizon. To be sure, a trifling 600 airmiles still lay before us; but they shrank into insignificance as we thought of the more than 2,000 miles that stretched away to the east.



The unimpeded progress of our happy pilgrimage and the novel sights of the Mormon capital thrilled Pete and went to his head like wine. He grew loquacious,

and from him I learned much of interest beyond what I already knew about the early days in the Mail.

The year 1918 now seems like the Pliocene Age, as the history of aviation goes; yet it was in May of that year that the Air Mail was born. The President of the United States, then Woodrow Wilson, with several members of his staff, went to the polo field in Potomac Park, Washington, to witness the first plane take-off. An escort of Army aircraft lined the inclosure. The moment for departure

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One track cuts through the hills in tunnels, while the other track pursues a more circuitous route, possessing the advantage of easier grades, but involving a longer distance of haul. The photograph covers territory a few miles west of Colfax, California. The railroad line with sharp curves, on the left-hand side of the picture, swinging around Lander Station, is the old Central Pacific, now westbound track. The line showing Tunnels 30, 31, and 32 is the eastbound track. About two miles beyond the top of the picture, in the direction of Reno, is the town of Colfax.

approached and all seemed propitious when it was discovered that no gasoline had been provided!

In mortification and haste, in the presence of the highest officials of the land, the tank of every aircraft on the field was drained to fill that of the mail ship; and, 16 minutes late, the first Air Mail plane took off for Philadelphia, there to connect with a relay plane for New York. It was destined never to arrive.

The pilot, a young and inexperienced

cadet, could not even find Baltimore, only 35 miles away. Completely lost, he attempted to land near a small town to inquire his way. The excited farmers who gathered around his overturned plane informed the would-be courier that he was 25 miles from Washington, in the opposite direction from the required route!

Nor does this complete the tragic tale. The following day the same pilot was given another-and last-chance to follow the elusive air trail to Philadelphia.

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LOOKING DOWN THE GRAND CANYON OF THE TUOLUMNE RIVER, CALIFORNIA, FROM AN ELEVATION OF 12,000 FEET Smith Peak is seen on the left, and to the right of Smith Peak the Hetch Hetchy Valley. Note the water line on the banks, showing how the reservoir has been drawn down during the summer's use.


Photograph by Captain A. W. Stevens

Also note the tiny mountain lake to the right, which apparently has an elevation of some two or three thousand feet higher than Lake Tahoe.

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THE SOUTHERN PACIFIC LINE TUNNELING ITS WAY THROUGH THE SIERRA NEVADA This railroad probably has as much difficulty in crossing the mountains at this point, some 30 miles northeast of Lake Tahoe, as at any point on its whole system. The snow sometimes reaches a depth here of 30 feet, so that it is necessary to inclose the rails with snowsheds, which can be seen beginning at the lower left corner of the picture. Not only is this part of the Sierras difficult for the railroad to cross, but it is also difficult for the automobile road, which may be noted in the center, twisting and turning, as it winds up the sides of the canyon. This photograph covers territory on the exact summit of the Sierra Nevada at the crossing of the Southern Pacific Railroad. Tunnel No. 6 is the Summit Tunnel; Summit Station is to the right of this tunnel. The highway passes under the railroad tracks east of Tunnel 7. In the right foreground is seen the new State highway under construction. The straight white line at the top of the picture is the second track of the Southern Pacific's main line under construction.

He vainly searched the smiling landscape as far as Cape Charles, Virginia, where the Atlantic Ocean and lack of fuel put an end to his explorations with the Mail.

Out of such ignominious beginnings has grown the finest example of dependable air transportation that the world has yet seen, flying over 10,000,000 miles and

transporting more than 6,000,000 pounds of mail.

During the tentative period of the first two years neither pilots nor green field crews were quite sure how it would all turn out, while inexperienced executives. led them from one false trail to the next and a hostile Congress frowned on the whole impossible undertaking.

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