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April 9, 2019

Travels with Bill: A Wonderful Photo Collection That Document the 1963 USA Tour of an American Couple

Here below is a wonderful photo collection from John F. Ciesla that shows his 1963 USA tour with his close friend named Bill.

“Travels with Bill.

USA trip, April through June 1963.

Close friend, William J. Armstrong passed away in March of 2013 at the age of 80. I came in possession of his many travel slides which he had taken through the years, and felt it would be an honor to share these many fine photos for all to see. One of Bill’s many interests was in transportation, and included almost all forms, from the streetcar, to the Jet plane. Early on, he could be found with a simple box camera taking photos of 3rd Avenue Railway streetcars in his native Bronx and nearby southern Westchester County. As he matured, the circle of travel increased to all of the New York metropolitan area, and then to other cities. Bill loved to travel, to see and experience not only his native New York, but the country as well. His interests went far beyond just transportation, but included history, geography, geology, and photography.

Arizona State Route 64, East of Grand Canyon

In April of 1963, a thirty year old Bill Armstrong set out on a two and one half month journey to see the country. He had just purchased a new 1963 Ford Falcon four door sedan, teal green in color and equipped with a rare 4 speed manual transmission mated to the base six cylinder engine. The car would take him across the plains of Texas, through the searing heat of Death Valley, along the Pacific Coast, and to Crater Lake where snow was still packed higher than his car. He drove north to Vancouver, Canada and then south along the eastern front of the Rockies. He and his trusty Falcon would visit many of the fabled National Parks such as the Grand Canyon, Crater Lake, and Yosemite. Cities such as Houston, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Kansas City, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Detroit, Cincinnati, and Cleveland. Most of the driving was done on the old network of US highways, as the Interstate highway system was largely to be built.

Viewing these slides we are seeing our nation as it was over fifty-five years ago. JF Kennedy was President, but would only live a few months longer. Our nation was engaged in a war in Viet Nam that would go on throughout the decade. The civil rights movement was growing as the decade progressed, and then Martin Luther King would be killed. But our nation was still optimistic for the future, and in six years we would land on the moon. Ours was a different nation then, and looking at these photos we see how styles have changed, and just look at all the “old” cars.

Bill loved to share his photos, and presented many evening slide shows during the years. I’m sure he would be pleased, and humbled, that his photos have been preserved and restored as much as possible. Time has not been kind to his color slides. After fifty years the colors have either faded or have changed tint. Bill shot many of his slides using Kodak Ektachrome, which faded very rapidly after developing. Many of those slides could only be saved into a black and white format. Fortunately during the 1963 trip he began to change over to Kodachrome slide film which held up far better. Although Kodachrome turned somewhat purple and darker over the years, a quick session with Photoshop managed to restore much of the color and sharpness. I have included several of the original Ektachrome slides as “before” images for comparison purposes.

This trip served to take Bill from a basic photographer to a highly competent scenic photographer. One can see his mastery of the camera improve as the trip progresses. Note how composition improves, and the use of foreground elements becomes evident during the trip. These photos were all taken with a relatively basic 35mm rangefinder camera with manual focus, lens and shutter adjustment. Bill never used a light meter, instead using the simple instructions provided on the inside of the film box, and let’s not forget the very slow speed of those old color slide films.
So enjoy the trip through Bill’s USA….I’m sure he is smiling.

John F. Ciesla ”

Alabama. Birmingham, view from hotel room

Approach to 25R United Airlines DC8 at LAX

Arcata Redwood logging

Arizona. California State Line near Yuma

Arizona. Desert near Yuma

Arizona. Grand Canyon National Park

Arizona. Jerome

California State line

California. Calico Ghost Town

California. Disneyland monorail

California. Disneyland

California. Knott's Berry Farm

California. La Jolla

California. Long Beach, Oil field

California. Los Angeles, Civic Center, Santa Ana Freeway

California. Los Angeles, Santa Ana Freeway

California. Mount Wilson Observatory

California. Mountains, East of San Diego

California. Plaster City

California. San Diego, Balboa Park

California. San Francisco, Arguello Blvd

California. San Francisco, Grant Ave. in Chinatown

California. San Francisco, Market Street view east

California. San Francisco, Point Lobos

California. San Francisco, Powell St towards Market St

California. San Francisco, View from Twin Peaks

California. San Pedro ferry, Treasure Island

California. San Pedro, New Treasure Island Bridge

California. Smith Redwoods, US Rt 199

California. Sunset at San Fernando Valley

California. Yosemite National Park

Colorado. Mount Evans

Colorado. Royal Gorge

Colorado. View of Denver

Death Valley

Death Valley. Badwater

Florida State Line

Georgia. Stone Mountain

Hoover Dam

Lake Mead

Michigan. Detroit street scenes

Michigan. Detroit

Michigan. Greenfield Village

Michigan. Greenfield Village

Minnesota. Minneapolis

Missouri. Hannibal

Missouri. Kansas City freight yards

Missouri. St Louis street scenes

Montana. Sheridan

Montana. Virginia City

Montana. Virginia City

New Mexico. Albuquerque, AT&SF El Capitan Super Chief

New Mexico. Continental Divide, US Rt. 66

New Mexico. Fort Selden

New Mexico. Road to Sandia Crest

New Mexico. Sandia Crest

New Mexico. US Rt. 66 between Albuquerque and Grants

New Mexico. US Rt. 85

New Orleans. La Canal St. from the Falcon

New Orleans. View cars, French Quarter

Ohio. Cincinnati from Mt Adams

Ohio. Cincinnati, Ohio River

Ohio. Cincinnati, Roebling Bridge to Kentucky

Ohio. Cleveland

Oregon Coast

Oregon. Approach to Crater Lake National Park

Oregon. Crater Lake National Park

Seattle Alwag monorail downtown

Seattle Alweg monorail downtown station

Seattle Alweg Monorail

Seattle Alweg Monorail

Seattle Downtown fire view from Space Needle

Seattle Downtown from monorail station

Seattle Downtown monorail station

Tennessee. Lookout the mountain in Chattanooga

Texas State Line

Texas. Austin, Capitol dome

Texas. Dallas street scenes

Texas. El Paso, Road to Ranger Peak

Texas. Houston street scenes

Texas. Houston, Turning Basin

Texas. Houston, View from Humble Oil building

Texas. West of Del Rio, US Rt. 90

US-Canadian border Peace Arch

Utah. Promontory Point, Golden Spike monument

Utah. Salt Lake City, Temple Square

Wyoming. Free range cattle on US Rt 30

Yellowstone National Park. Bear in road

Yellowstone National Park. Mammoth Hot Springs

Yellowstone National Park




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