Display Status This object is not on display at the National Air and Space Museum. It is either on loan or in storage.

Joseph Dunlap Mountain was born on October 24, 1902 in Cherryvale, Kansas. He joined the U.S. Army Air Service in 1919; he was awarded his wings and commissioned a second lieutenant in 1921. Mountain continued to fly after leaving the Air Service and also took up photography. In 1928, Mountain was employed by the Continental Air Map Company in the aerial mapping of the state of California. In 1934-1935, he served as a pilot, aerial photographer, darkroom technician and mechanic for the California-Arabian Standard Oil Company (CASOC; in 1944 renamed the Arabian American Oil Company --Aramco, now Saudi Aramco) expedition to Saudi Arabia; Mountain logged over 221 hours of reconnaissance and mapping flights for CASOC. In 1936-1937, Mountain contracted with the Saudi Arabia Mining Syndicate to make an aerial survey of the Hejaz region of Saudi Arabia. From 1937-1947, Mountain was a pilot for Trans World Airlines. During World War II, Mountain returned to active duty with the U.S. Army Air Forces as a training officer in the Air Transport Command. He was awarded the Bronze Star while serving in the China-Burma-India Theater and supervising supply missions over "The Hump" --the dangerous air route over the Himalaya Range. In 1945 he was promoted to full Colonel and appointed executive officer of the Committee for Air Navigation and Traffic Control. In 1947, Mountain entered the computer industry with International Telephone and Telegraph. Later, he founded Mountain Systems, a digital computer manufacturing company, and Mountain Datasystem, a data processing firm. During the Korean War, he served as an Air Force liaison officer with the Bell Telephone Laboratories. After the war, he returned to civilian life and continued to work in the computer industry. Joseph Mountain died on November 25, 1970 at the age of 68.



Processing Information

Joseph Mountain's photographs of Saudi Arabia may be viewed online in the Archives Division's reading room, or on the Smithsonian Institution Research Information Service (SIRIS) at http://bit.ly/dL2zDs.


Mountain, Joseph D., 1902-1970


1916 - 1970


Isabel Mountain, gift, 1991, 1991-0079, NASM


1.57 Cubic feet (6 boxes)


This collection follows Mountain's aviation career.


No restrictions on access


Collection descriptions

Archival materials






Arrangement note

No series - arranged by materials: Documents, oversize and images

Scope and Contents

This collection follows Joseph Mountain's aviation career and includes photographic negatives and prints, diaries and flight log books, reports, and maps. Mountain's photographs from his service in Saudi Arabia are of particular interest --taken not long before the great oil discoveries at Dammam in 1938, they capture the desert kingdom at the very edge of the tremendous changes that the oil economy brought to the Gulf. The images are a fascinating record of traditional Saudi Arabian life, crafts and architecture. Highlights include portraits of dancers at Eid al-Fitr celebrations, market scenes in Hufuf and the Old Town of Al Jubail, camel caravans, Saudi hunters with their hawks, and pearl fishermen and their dhows. Mountain also extensively photographed members of the CASOC team at work and interacting with their Saudi workers and acquaintances. Joseph Mountain's negatives are stored in the Archive Division's cold vault and are not available to researchers. Scans of the negatives may be viewed in the Archives Division reading room, or through the Smithsonian Institution Research Information System (SIRIS) web site at http://bit.ly/dL2zDs.








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Arabian American Oil Company

Mountain, Joseph D., 1902-1970

Topics Aeronautics, Commercial -- United States
Aeronautics, Military
Aerial photography


Joseph D. Mountain Collection, Acc. 1991-0079, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.

Archival Repository

National Air and Space Museum Archives

Finding Aid Online Finding Aid