Photographs of Early California
by W.J. Spangler

As a young man, Uncle Billy traveled around the growing state, first with Royal Heating of San Francisco and then on his own, making and installing ductwork, vents, gutters and other tin work, in homes, churches, hospitals and factories. He also built what must be one of the first camper tops, clever boats from sheet metal and wonderous toys and puzzles for us kids. He was a sheet metal worker by trade but an adventurous photographer by nature and took his little folding Kodak everywhere. After his passing, I managed to save all the photos and most of the negatives and have been wondering what to do with them ever since! So, in loving memory of my great uncle, here is a small but savory sampling of his photographs. Click on the links below. I will add to this collection as time allows.


-Pacific Vinegar & Pickle Works
Hayward, 1910

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Logging and Sawmill
Ferndale and Eureka, 1909

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Scraping Roads and Hanging Wire
Pacheo Pass, 1910

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Cowboys and Cockfights on San Luis Ranch
Pacheco Pass, 1910

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Skiing at Donner, February 1909

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S.S. Manchuria
Ready to depart to Hawaii & Japan, June 1908

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Riding the Revenue Cutter "Bear" to Point Barrow, Alaska in 1911, plus native peoples, villages  and a walrus hunt

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The 1906 Earthquake and family homes

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31 Shipley St.
His sheet metal shop and home

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Billy's sheet metal boats and camper shells
At Mt. Lassen and in SF Bay, 1937-1960

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Ships, ballons, Reno
Miscellaneous shots from about 1910

Billy goes fishing with his buds
In a buckwagon no less

The "Sierra Vista Ranch"
in Delano, Kern Co., 1915
W.J. Spangler In 1908
A Note About the Photos
Billy used several sizes of folding Kodak (his favorite was the 3A Folding)  and though the negatives were big, they are very grainy and thin so they lack contrast. He often contact printed them as postcards and wrote on the negatives, which is why I still know what the subjects are. All are enlarged here so they often are even fuzzier, but there is detail to be seen, my rationale for blowing them up. I also turned some into grey scale prints to elimate the yellowish cast from old developer and aging.