These historical photographs, taken in 1891, survey both the Redlands and Moreno Valley landscape of Southern California. The long growing season of Southern California and ideal weather, as well as its picturesque beauty and untapped potential, drew settlers throughout the nineteenth century in search of the American dream. But both the key to that dream and the hurdle to overcome, for any and all communities and individuals, was the the accessibility and supply of water.
In 1880, two Easterners, Frank Brown and Edward G. Judson settled in Redlands, went into business together, and found continued success in agriculture. By 1882, the supplies of water for Redlands were exhausted. A new source would be necessary if the colony was to continue to grow. Brown was urged by locals to explore Bear Valley as a possible site for a reservoir, and after realizing this potential, the Bear Valley Irrigation Company was formed in 1883. Without the water from Bear Valley, none of the Redlands' phenomenal growth would have happened.
Hoping to excite interest of potential investors and to photograph the brilliant future of his expanding domain, Brown commissioned photographer Herve Friend to document the expansion of the dam and the water delivery system to Moreno and Alessandro and depict Relands' success. Friend made a least three trips to Bear Valley throughout August and September of 1891 and created 14 x 17 inch photographs distributed by the Bear Valley Irrigation Company to potential investors across the country and in Europe. While creating both a documentary survey and a sophisticated marketing tool, Friend also produced a work of fine art.
Nathan Gonzles, describing the work of Herve Friend, says: "In the tradition of American landscape photographers such as Carleton Watkins and Eadweard Muybridge, Friend created a grand vision of the landscape of Bear Valley... His sweeping vistas of valleys, canyons, towns and fields show a mastery of composition and an understanding of play of light and shadow... Friend elevated his work beyond the merely documentary."
A thirty-two page catalogue has been published, including fine reproductions of these important historical photographs and an essay by Nathan Gonzales, Associate Archivist with the A.K. Smiley Public Library. The volume is available for sale and distribution at the Michael Dawson Gallery.