Photographic Memory

On the Rub’ al-Khali road

In a time before GPS, rough hewn roads in the heart of the desert gave guidance to travelers.

On the Rub’ al-Khali road

This is not a place in which you would want to get lost. Traveling the Rub’ al-Khali presented early surveyors and geologists with a particular set of challenges, notably the lack of distinguishable landmarks. This made night driving a specific problem. In a time before the advent of Global Positioning System technology, roads such as the one being dragged in this 1952 photo, were used less for the surface they yielded than as a reliable guide through the desert — until the next sandstorm. (Photo by T. F. Walters)


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