Sierra Designs--another of the California group of Pioneers (page 5 of 6)


Within the History of Gear, the 1972 Sierra Designs catalog ranks as one of my personal favorites... I appreciate the SD staff's vision, their imagination, and their boldness in taking themselves and their products to an old Western ghost town in the middle of winter in search of that vision. (first image is the 1972 Bodie catalog's front cover)

Bodie was a booming and tempestuous gold mining town of 10,000 assorted men, women and children at its height in the late 1800s. Some say that for awhile a man per day was being killed in the hard-living town. The town was gradually abandoned and the ravages of time began to take their toll. In 1932 the second of two major fires destroyed everything except the relatively small number of buildings now on display as part of the Bodie State Historic Park that was established in 1964.

Bodie lies high and dry on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, approximately 80 air miles SE of Lake Tahoe.... The town, at 8,400 feet elevation, would rank as one of the very highest in the United States were it still occupied. It is so dry at Bodie that the townsite, and even the 10,000 foot mountains nearby, are essentially treeless. The basic cold/dry climate of the area is a key to its excellent state of preservation, as a natural of form of "freeze-dry" has greatly slowed decay processes.

The image to the left shows a Bodie church in the clutches of winter snows; the cold is piercing. One can travel back in time and imagine the many times that the church was the scene for memorial services for the many lost to mining accidents, sickness and violence. The text at the top was a prelude to the catalog's tent section; it was page 38 of the 1972 Bodie catalog.


GEORGE MARKS writes, "As I recall this was a very arduous trip, with lots of suffering from the cold and very difficult conditions for a catalog shoot. It was one to remember and also one of the most successful catalogs. This was the first of three years that the familiar logo did not appear on the catalogs, although it was still on the woven label for the garments. (February 29, 2004)


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