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Phil Douglis | all galleries >> Galleries >> Gallery Two: Travel Incongruities > A Forest of Bottles, Oro Grande, California, 2006
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A Forest of Bottles, Oro Grande, California, 2006

Surely one of the most bizarre sights along Route 66 is Elmer Long's stand of trees made entirely of metal poles and old bottles, many of them from a collection he inherited from his father. His forest of glass has become an acknowledged piece of Mohave folk art. I have made part of Elmer’s glass forest into an incongruous image by finding a vantage point where I could squeeze a lot of bottles into a very small space. The tire at the base one of the trees offers a context and a quaint respite from the overwhelming mass of bottle branches. It is a sight we would never expect to encounter, and one that will difficult to forget. Elmer's forest of glass has become an acknowledged piece of Mohave folk art. You can view a portrait I made of Elmer Long by clicking on the thumbnail below:

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ30
1/500s f/6.3 at 47.0mm iso80 hide exif
Full EXIF Info
Date/Time12-Feb-2006 15:43:11
Flash UsedNo
Focal Length47 mm
Exposure Time1/500 sec
ISO Equivalent80
Exposure Bias-1.00
White Balance (10)
Metering Modemulti spot (3)
JPEG Quality (6)
Exposure Programprogram (2)
Focus Distance

other sizes: small medium large original auto
Phil Douglis19-Feb-2006 21:41
Good questions, Christine. One of the reasons I made the image was to stimulate the imagination of my viewers. I am sure that Elmer Long has the same idea. He told me that most of those bottles come from his fathers collection and his own. The forest is about a city block long and a city block wide. It is fenced, and when visitors visit, Elmer usually is there to open the gate and answer questions, so I am sure pilferage is not an issue. This may be the "Wild West" but to my knowledge people don't use this art work for target practice. If they did, Elmer's trees would not last very long. And finally, your comment on luminosity is right on the mark. Elmer says he was inspired to do what he does by a Route 66 folk art attraction called "Hula Ville" that used bottles in a similar way. He says he was "hooked" by the way the sun intensified the brilliance of the colors in the bottles." You can read more about Elmer and his bottles at and you can read more about Hula-Ville, the art that inspired him, at
Guest 19-Feb-2006 17:22
Interesting photograph because it is unusual and very colourful. This photo brings up a few questions: How big is that forest? Do you think visitors are stealing bottles sometimes? Do people give them bottles? What would gun shots do to the "forest"?
By the way, I really like the way the ligth shines through the bottles.
Phil Douglis17-Feb-2006 22:55
Mia, thanks for picking up my cut and paste slip up. I have fixed it.
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