DEATH VALLEY, Calif. – Alice ‘Happy Days’ Diminy, a miner and entrepreneur, said it best: “There’s a thrill. You don’t know what lays ahead, but you see yourself rolling in wealth.”
A new exhibit supported by The Fund for People in Parks and Death Valley Natural History Association in the Furnace Creek Visitor Center tells the histories of several determined and inspiring women who long ago lived in the Death Valley area and influenced the future national park and surrounding desert.
“Sharing the park history and telling those stories from diverse perspectives is fundamental to the National Park Service mission,” said The Fund for People in Parks Executive Director Kevin Hendricks. “We’ve been proud to help Death Valley National Park and Death Valley Natural History Association complete this important project about these trailblazing women.”
For instance, Louise Grantham was a controversial, contentious part of Death Valley’s mining history. She hired armed guards to keep the rightful owner away from their highly profitable talc mine. Edna Brush Perkins wrote “White Heart of the Mojave” in 1922, which sparked curiosity in people to explore the desert then and now.
Ruth Woodman created “Death Valley Days,” a radio show that later became a western television series. Mary Liddecoat managed and cared for the buildings and grounds of Scotty’s Castle for over 20 years. With no formal training, Mary DeDecker became a well-respected botanist who discovered a new genus of buckwheat, Dedeckera eurekensis, and successfully advocated for the addition of Eureka Dunes into Death Valley National Park.
“The desert really does inspire. As you discover in the stories of these dynamic individuals you can feel the spark of their spirit. Working with partners like the Fund for People in Parks and Death Valley Natural History Association to bring these stories out and highlight them, more visitors have an opportunity to develop a personal connection to Death Valley national Park.” shared Kim Selinske, Death Valley National Park Historian.
The Furnace Creek Visitor Center is open daily from 8-5. It is located on Airport Road in Furnace Creek, Death Valley.
Death Valley National Park is the homeland of the Timbisha Shoshone and preserves natural resources, cultural resources, exceptional wilderness, scenery, and learning experiences within the nation’s largest conserved desert landscape and some of the most extreme climate and topographic conditions on the planet. Learn more at www.nps.gov/deva.
A young man and his mother reading the “Women of Change” exhibit. The young man thought Edna Brush Perkin’s had a compelling story to share. Courtesy NPS
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