Rating: "A-" -- beautiful photos, interesting history and people.
Not to mention a great place to visit.
Josef Muench smacked Adolf Hitler with a well-aimed tomato back
in 1927; prudently, he moved to the US the following year. He got a
job with the Ford Motor Co., kept it until he could afford a new
Model A ($535), and headed West. His big break came when he met
Raymond Carlson, the editor who turned "Arizona Highways" from
an obscure highway-promotion magazine into a world-famous
showcase for landscape photography. Muench made his first trip to
Monument Valley in 1935, and by 1992 had made 355 trips there,
while becoming one of the world's leading landscape photographers
(his son David may be even better). Josef took the cover photo of this
little book in 1937, the year they started selling Kodachrome color
film. You'll recognize many of the classic views here, taken over the
next 60 years.
Harry Goulding moved to Monument Valley in 1923 to open a
trading post, which is still "the place" to stay when you visit. Times
were tough in the Depression -- no money, no business, no jobs. But
Hollywood was making Westerns, so Harry decided he'd sell the
studios on making movies in Monument Valley. Muench made up
a portfolio of photos for Goulding to bring to Hollywood, still
considered by some to be his best work. By pure persistence, Harry
worked his way up to John Ford, and layed out Muench's pictures.
Ford decided that Monument Valley was *the* location to shoot his
next big picture, "Stagecoach" (1938). He had to import cowboys, but
Indians came with the package. The rest, as they say, was history -- if
you've watched western movies, you've had a preview of
Monument Valley, a Navajo Tribal Park, straddles the Utah-Arizona
border in the vast Navajo Reservation. It's still pretty much in the
middle of nowhere. Gets a little busy in the summer, now. but it's
still otherwordly. And don't miss Betatakin ruin at Navajo NM!
This is one of the "Story Behind the Scenery" booklets, of about the
size and heft of an"Arizona Highways" magazine, that are ubiquitous
at national-park visitor centers and souvenir shops. I'd always kinda
looked down my nose at them ("booklike objects for tourists" --
I know, hopeless snobbery), but the recent ones have truly gorgeous
photos, so I'm catching up on them. Their website is at
[...] , or email them for their very
attractive catalog: firstname.lastname@example.org. A nice feature for
visitors from abroad is foreign-language editions: most titles are
available in German, many in French & Japanese, and some in
Spanish, Italian, Chinese & Korean.