In 1930, the USGS purchased this Model A Ford
coupe for $557. Geologist Foster Hewett used it in Death
Valley, California from 1930 to 1956, then Geologist Levi
Noble used it for mapping the Mohave Desert from 1956 to
1965. After Mr. Noble's Death, the Model A was stored for
a time in Valyermo, California.
Parke Snavely, Chief of the Pacific Coast Branch, Geologic
Division, later drove it from Valyermo to the USGS Pacific
Coast office in Menlo Park, California. In 1974, the car was
shipped to the newly opened USGS headquarters in Reston, VA.
Here it was displayed, first in the lobby, then outside on
the front portico under a building overhang then back into
the lobby where it remains today.
Model A was essentially a stock car . . . Its high center,
short turning radius and wheel base, relatively low gear
ratio etc. made it a very good off-road vehicle, and we took
it places where a 4-wheel drive vehicle would be necessary
today-although this was long before the advent of the latter.
For instance we once traversed the heart of the Owl Mountains
from the northwest clear to the Death Valley front . . .
not to mention the back side of the Black Mts. and the Funerals
and Grapevines in the east." -Donald Curry (accompanied Levi
Noble in his mapping of the Mohave Desert)
"The Model A had one draw-back: Because of its narrow tires
it had a tendency to spin out or head for the ditch in loose
gravel. Levi was thrown from the car on one such occasion,
or at least sustained a cut on his scalp, and this contributed
to his dislike for driving alone. Incidentally, the red color
of the Model A came relatively late in its period of use. It
used to be a gray or off-white which was difficult to see from
a distance in the drab desert landscape." -Donald Curry (accompanied
Levi Noble in his mapping of the Mohave Desert)
"We had a series of visitors from the Survey at various times:
Nolan, Longwell, Gilully, Ferguson and Muller, and of course
Foster Hewett are some that come to mind. Most or all were
at one time transported in the old Model A." -Donald Curry
(accompanied Levi Noble in his mapping of the Mohave Desert)