|"Flying Over Death Valley" ©Mary Montague Sikes|
The haunting name, Death Valley, came in 1849 when prospectors heading to California lost their way and got stuck there. It took weeks for them to find their way out of the valley. To survive, they were forced to slaughter some of their own oxen for food and to burn some of their wagons for fuel to cook it.
Over the years, I've created several paintings of the Sierra Nevada Mountains that are among the ranges that border it. I never tire taking photos of these mountains as we fly across them.
Groups of Native Americans lived there as long ago as 7,000 BC. At that time, the terrain was less harsh and featured a few small lakes.
When tourism grew in Death Valley in the 1920s, resorts were built in the area. Eventually, the park expanded to the size it is today and it became a National Park in 1994.