In 1891, New York "Sun" reporter and travel writer J.R. Spears accepted an invitation to visit Death Valley to write about the region and explore its borax mines. Spears, the first professional journalist to visit, photograph and report on the region, provided the American reading public with an engaging and informed account of Death Valley and its surrounding desert country. Through 19 chapters, Spears examines the 20-mule teams used in borax mining, freighting in the rugged desert landscape, and various desert characters - including "Desert Tramps" and a California bear hunter.
John Randolph Spears (1850-1936), author of The Gold Diggings of Cape Horn: A Study of Life in Tierra del Fuego and Patagonia, served for fifteen years as a reporter for the New York Sun. Douglas Steeples is an emeritus professor of history at Mercer University.