While the front country developed steadily over time, the backcountry of Ventura County in the early 20th century was less accessible. The steep mountains and at times uncertain climate made cutting roads into the wilderness difficult. The county's population was growing though and roads began to be expand.
Between 1910 and 1920, the population increased from 18,347 to 28,724, a 56% increase in just a decade. In 1930, the population would skyrocket by 91%, reaching 54,796.
The backcountry would soon change, with more roads and more people. Keene's films capture both the wildness of the backcountry, the difficulty getting to the wilderness, and the shift towards modern convenience.
Keene packing up the car to drive to the mountains
Keene digging out the road to get to the backcountry cabin
Dangerous roads led to dangerous rescues, with no AAA to help out
Keene arriving at the backcountry cabin and transferring to horseback
The introduction of the car changed the way people traveled. It was faster and more convenient in some ways. And more difficult and harder in others! When heading into the backcountry, Keene would pack up his car and head out to a backcountry cabin.
Getting to the cabin wasn't always easy, with rock slides and other impediments. Keene carried a shovel with him for just these sorts of impediments.
If you got in car trouble in the mountains, there was no AAA to tow you out. Horse and man power were the only way to right overturned vehicles. During this era, it was always prudent to carry several spare tires, as flats were frequent and crippling to any motorist in the backcountry.
Once Keene arrived at the cabin, he would transfer to a riding and pack horse, to make the next leg of the journey into the backcountry