David's photo album for this trip has been found! He had taken an additional 41 photos that were not part of the negative booklet, which have now been added to this online photo album. Oh happy day!!
To start viewing the 1951 Road Trip Photos, click on the small preview photo to the left. Click on the arrow buttons under the preview photo to show the previous or next preview. You may also browse through the photos by using the right and left arrow keys on your keyboard. If you want to see all of the 145 preview photos at once, see the Contact Sheet.
Be SURE to sign the Guest Book and leave your comments before you're finished!
On July 4th, 1951, the Kaukonen Family of Santa Maria (David, Margaret, Gloria, Sandra and Sharon) piled into their tan 1947 Ford Sedan, heading east on their 6000+ mile expedition to Minnesota and Illinois, with a handful of national parks thrown in for good measure. Sharon had turned 12 in May, while Gloria and Sandra would be turning 14 in October.
The actual route they took has been forgotten, but after entering the locations they stopped at (based upon the photos David took) and setting the option to avoid major Interstate highways if possible, Microsoft Streets calculated a hypothetical route as shown on the map below.
Also, Sandra just found some reels of 8mm home movie footage that David took on this trip. The infomation on the box labels gave some additional details about their route, specifically, some places that they stopped for which no negatives have yet been found, as well as specific dates on which they visited certain locations.

The numbered locations listed below correspond to the numbers on the map.
  1. Santa Maria, California
    David and Margaret moved with their twin daughters from Pipestone, Minnesota to Santa Maria in 1938. Thirteen years later, they made their first trip back to Minnesota. Apparently they started their vacation on July 4th, 1951.
  2. Tehachapi Pass, California
    The best way to get from Santa Maria to Lone Pine is through the Tehachapi Pass — I don't know why Microsoft Streets wanted to take a different route! So I had to force the software to choose this route.
  3. Lone Pine / Mount Whitney, California
    Mount Whitney is the highest point in the continental United States (only Alaska has higher mountains). According to the labels on the reels of movie footage, David filmed around the Mount Whitney area on July 4th. Pretty much the only way to do that is to pass through Lone Pine. There were two photos of Mount Whitney in David's photo album, and the captions there confirm that the location was Lone Pine.
  4. Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho
    The moon-like lava fields in this part of Idaho where right on the Oregon Trail, a subject that has great interest to me now that I live in Oregon. According to the labels on the reels of movie footage, David filmed here on July 5th. In David's photo album I found nine pictures taken here.
  5. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
    According to the labels on the reels of movie footage, David filmed here on July 6th. Sandra recalls visiting the park — she remembers the Old Faithful geyser and the stinky smell in the air due to the volcanic waters. In David's photo album there were 19 photos from this area.
  6. Pipestone, Minnesota
    A trip to Minnesota would not be complete without stopping in Pipestone, their former home town where David and Margaret met, fell in love, got married, and their twin daughters were born. It's a puzzling mystery that there are no photos from Pipestone in the negative booklet nor in David's photo album.
         Gloria has memories of her and her two sisters each receiving a necklace on this trip with a beautiful brownish-red heart pendant made of pipestone, crafted by the local Dakota Native Americans.
         On a related side note, it is very interesting that one of the people instrumental in the establishment of Pipestone National Monument was Edward R. Trebon. After the tireless efforts of Mr. Trebon and others led to President Franklin D. Roosevelt signing the Pipestone National Monument legislation on August 25, 1937 (just 39 days before Gloria and Sandra were born!), Mr. Trebon moved to Santa Maria to start a newspaper. In 1938 Jacob Foltan and his son-in-law David Kaukonen were asked by Mr. Trebon to come to Santa Maria to paint his newspaper building and house. (Weren't there any painters already in Santa Maria? Did Pipestone residents really stick that closely together?) Jacob and David liked Santa Maria so much that as soon as they had finished their painting jobs they headed back to Pipestone, packed up their two families, and moved permanently to Santa Maria (where they both lived for the rest of their lives). Then, after they had established themselves in Santa Maria, Mr. Trebon hired Margaret's sister Esther as a linotype operator, where she worked for 5 years until getting married. OK, everybody join in the chorus: "It's a small world after all..." Dont' miss the special little scrap-card that David put together for Esther and Dick's wedding, which reveals a side of him that was not often seen.
  7. Ely Lake, near Eveleth, Minnesota
    There were no photos from here in the negative booklet, but I did find five in David's photo album. David's father, Isaac, work in the iron mines at Eveleth in his younger days, during the seven years between his marriage in Finland and the arrival of his wife Wilhelmina and son William in Minnesota. Once Issac and Wilhelmina settle down together on some property in the Cherry area — before they owned their first automobile — travel was done by horse and buggy, and it was an all-day trip to the nearest town, Eveleth, 15 miles away. Thirty years later, on this vacation trip in 1951, the David Kaukonen family apparently made a stop at nearby Ely Lake to give the girls an opportunity to cool off in the water. David had sure come a long ways from the horse and buggy days of his childhood!
  8. Hibbing, Minnesota
    Despite being David's neck of the woods, there isn't a large number of photos in the Hibbing area — and all five of the photos missing from David's photo album are from around Hibbing. Besides the photos of the nearby large iron mines, there's a photo of David's parents, Isaac and Wilhelmina, standing in front of their house; his brother Oliver baling hay, his brother Leo's home and shop, and his old high school at nearby Cherry.
         In 1951, when the Kaukonen family was staying in Hibbing, there was a certain ten-year-old boy (born in nearby Duluth) living in Hibbing, his mother's home town. Ten years later he travelled to New York City to begin one of the most successful music careers of all time. His name? Robert Allen Zimmerman — better known as Bob Dylan!
  9. Itasca State Park, Minnesota
    David's notes for these photos say "Stasca State Park" (see the sample contents page photo on the Negatives page). Apparently there is no such place, because when I Googled for that, up came Itasca State Park (the second oldest in the U.S.) instead. Obviously David didn't get the name quite right at the time of his visit, but in the photo album he put together after his return to Santa Maria, he has it spelled correctly. At 140 miles (one way) from Hibbing, it seems like an awful long ways to go for a picnic and three photos! Perhaps the fact that Lake Itasca is famous for being the official source of the Mississippi River was enough of an incentive to make the journey. Whatever the reason for going there, it resulted in a great group shot of part of the Kaukonen clan.
  10. Twin PortsDuluth, Minnesota and Superior, Wisconsin
    A photo from here shows David's daughters Gloria, Sandra and Sharon, along with his brother Bill and Bill's daughter Eleanor, standing in front of a building with "Superior Wholesale Liquor Co." painted on the awning. The previous photo, without Bill, has a caption which includes "Superior — at Bill's". From that meager evidence it's not very evident what "at Bill's" is referring to. Does it mean the city of Superior, Wisconsin, where Bill lived? Why did David take a photo of his daughters, his brother, and his niece in front of a liquor store, of all places? See photo #59 for the answer to all these questions and more!
         Sandra remembers going to the cinema in Superior with her sisters and her cousins Eleanor and Richard (Dicky), and that Eleanor brought along a big bag of plums to snack on during the movie! Can you imagine eating juicy fruit like that in a dark theater?!
  11. Joliet, Illinois
    Next the Kaukonens journeyed about 500 miles south to Joliet, Illinois, to visit with the family of David's sister-in-law Esther (Margaret's younger sister) and her husband, Richard Ziech. The caption in David's photo album states that this gathering was a "reunion of war-time acquaintances." During World War II, both the Jacob Foltan family and the David Kaukonen family would invite local servicemen — stationed at the nearby Santa Maria Army Air Field and Camp Cooke (now Vandenberg Air Force Base) — over for a meal at their houses nearly every Sunday. This is, in fact, how Richard Ziech met Esther Foltan — resulting in their marriage. David must have met the other three men at this reunion — Herb Steinbach, Bob Jackel and Bob Steinwedel — in a similar way back in Santa Maria. There are quite a few photos taken in Joliet
  12. University of Chicago, Illinois
    While in Joliet, the Kaukonens took a day trip to Chicago. The only photos from this excursion are all of the Rockefeller Chapel (chapel? looks more like a cathedral if you ask me!) on the University of Chicago campus. Definitely an impressive piece of architecture — I'm not at all surprised that it caught the attention of David's camera.
  13. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
    Leaving family behind in the Midwest, the Kaukonen family made the long trek back home. All of the rest of the photos date from August, and are devoted to landscapes rather than people. The next 16 photos were taken here in Colorado — Rocky Mountain high!
  14. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
    According to the labels on the reels of movie footage, David filmed here on August 3rd. Gloria recalls the incredible colors in this park. The following 16 photos highlight the unfortunate fact that color photography did not become commonplace until about 20 years later. For the time being, you can enjoy David's photos in glorious black and white!
  15. Zion National Park, Utah
    According to the labels on the reels of movie footage, David filmed here on August 3rd. David took 9 photos at this park. For three of the shots he wrote down "White Monarch" — which I could not find documented anywhere. It took a little investigating to realize that he was referring to the "Great White Throne", which is pretty close — I guess a White Monarch would sit on a Great White Throne!
  16. Hoover Dam, Nevada
    When the Kaukonens arrived at the mighty Hoover Dam, it had been open for tour for only 14 years. There are no photos of inside the dam, so we don't know for sure if they took the tour. But David did take 8 photos of the dam and the surrounding Lake Mead area.
  17. Las Vegas, Nevada
    According to the labels on the reels of movie footage, David filmed here on August 4th. There are no photos of Las Vegas in the negative booklet, and I don't think they would be in the first set of missing negatives, for that would not make sense chronologically. My guess is that he just filmed and didn't take any photos.
  18. Mohave Desert, Nevada
    According to the labels on the reels of movie footage, David filmed here on August 5th. The last two photos of the trip are of the same Joshua tree somewhere in the vast Mohave Desert. Not too much further until home....
  19. Santa Maria, California
    According to the labels on the reels of movie footage, the Kaukonen family arrived back home on August 12th, 40 days after they had departed on July 4th. As Dorothy famously said (in the year that Sharon Kaukonen was born!): "There's no place like home" — home sweet home!
Because the negatives were so large (2-1/4 x 3-1/4 inches — 6 x 9 cm), and I scanned them at a fairly high resolution (1750 DPI resulting in images that are about 20 mexapixels), there is a great amount of detail in each photo. Therefore, in the cases when David, for whatever reason, took duplicate shots, I have cropped one of the duplicates, effectively zooming in to the photo to show more detail in a certain area of the photo. I was amazed how well the quality of these photos held up under such circumstances!
A note on the photo captions: Each photo has two captions. The first is the original caption from David's own hand. I have entered them just as he wrote them — even if that includes misspellings and incorrect information. The second caption is mine, in which I try to give more details, and also correct any errors in David's caption.
Gloria has some memories about the trip in general: I remember we stayed in really small, old, cheap motels. We all slept in one room, probably the three of us girls slept in one bed. I remember Sandra going in to take a shower one time — there was a big bug in the shower and she did a lot of screaming. I also remember in either Illinois or Minnesota we caught lightening bugs in a jar. That was a big thrill for us, because we had never seen them back in California. We also went to Chicago, and I remember the overhead trains and thought that was so neat. Uncle Dick and Aunt Esther took us to a deli for lunch. We visited a lot of people's houses and everywhere we went they served us so much food. I guess that was the custom to welcome you. Also in Minnesota there was a big thunderstorm and lightning came through a neighbor's kitchen window and struck the phone on the wall.
After seeing the picture of herself and Gloria somewhat on the pudgy side (bottom photo on the left), Sandra says that when they left on this trip they were pudgy, and despite being served a lot of food wherever they visited (as Gloria mentioned above), they came back thin. (She wishes life still worked that way!) Even though they are identical twins, Gloria disputes this account — she says they left pudgy and came back pudgy, and that they didn't loose their pubescent pudge until a year or two later when they tried out for cheerleading. (Maybe trying out for cheerleader would have delivered me from my plague of pudge too! On second thought, I don't think I would have looked very good in a skirt!) Anyway, I guess it doesn't really matter 60 years later — the battle against pudge is a never-ending fight!
No one knows for sure what kind of camera David used to take these photos. But there are some clues we can look at that can help us make an educated guess.
  1. David could have been using a twin-lens reflex camera, like the one his brother Bill is holding in one of the photos from the trip. But according to the Wikipedia article, this type of camera generally used square negatives. Which leads us to the next point...
  2. The negatives I scanned to make these photos are huge: 6 x 9 cm (about 2-3/8 x 3-1/2 inches). And as you can see, they are definitely NOT square.
  3. According to the Wikipedia article on folding cameras, "Folding cameras were dominant from the beginning of the 20th century to WWII. The typical amateur camera of the 1930s was a folding 6 x 9 camera. The use of folding cameras began to decline after WWII with the development of the 35mm film format."
  4. Even though these photos were taken six years after WWII, they are definitely NOT 35mm negatives, which are about six times smaller than the negatives David used in his camera for this trip.
  5. I and other family members vaguely remember David having a camera like the one pictured here. If I did indeed see it, he must have kept it into the 1970s.
By taking all of these considerations together, I think it is very likely that David used this type of camera on the Kaukonen 1951 road trip.
Be SURE to sign the Guest Book and leave your comments before you're finished!
To start viewing the 1951 Road Trip Photos, click on the small preview photo to the left. Click on the arrow buttons under the preview photo to show the previous or next preview. You may also browse through the photos by using the right and left arrow keys on your keyboard. If you want to see all of the 145 preview photos at once, see the Contact Sheet.