The original scope of this book was to provide a reproduction of the wonderful photos from a turn-of-the-century expedition into the rugged Sierra Madre Occidental Mountains of Mexico led by guide Charles M. Barber. However, as I began to add a few details, the book developed into two distinct parts. This meant including the photo journal in its entirety unedited as Part I of the book. It is unique and valuable in its own right, but it was just the beginning of the journey that Charles Barber seemed to have in mind for me. His role as the guide for this expedition was only a small part of a most fascinating life that unfolded before me.
Part II of the book is a biography of this adventurer's life beyond his work as a guide as shown in the photo journal and into his world of collecting museum specimens. Much of it is told in his own words from letters archived at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.
Charley hitch-hiked across the southwest at about age 15. He organized his first collecting expedition at age 17. He played and coached football at New Mexico State University 1897-1900. He was mentored by several of the most recognized men in the field of zoology, including C. Hart Merriam, one of the founders of the National Geographic Society. He eventually became a bone digger – a collector of fossilized remains. He developed a passion for prehistoric turtles of the Cretaceous Period (145 million to 65 million years ago, the time that the dinosaurs were king) and spent the latter half of his life in this pursuit. The Field Museum contains over a thousand specimens collected by Charles.
So, if you would, begin where I did with a captivating photo journal from about 1900. As I did, I hope you will enjoy the photos for their own right. But, perhaps as I did, you will also begin to wonder about the history of it all. I hope you will allow this brief time with the guide Charles Barber to draw you into the journey that is the rest of his intriguing life.