Thursday, February 5, 2009

Rabbits Against Snow

This image is from a real photo postcard, and was taken on today's date 98 years ago. The contrast of black rabbits against the snowy landscape is lovely, I think. It's somewhat reminiscent of the work of the contemporary photographer Masao Yamamoto.

However, there's something else going on here besides just being visually compelling. The rabbits are running, ears alert, agitated. Scratched into the negative is "Rabbit Drive 2/5/11, Near Lakeview Ore, 1811 Rabbits Killed in Pen."

The Nevada-California-Oregon Railroad, in an attempt to develop the land that its railroad served, hired a Russian man who relocated 25 Russian families to this outlying area. Rabbit drives became a regular winter occupation, with whole carloads of meat being shipped to a tamale factory in San Francisco. The enterprise gradually failed.

The postcard was mailed to someone, and the message on the back is about renting a saddle, making no mention of the photograph or the event.

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