1. John K. Hillers
ANCIENT RUINS IN THE CANON DE CHELLE [SIC], N.M. IN A NICHE 50 FEET ABOVE PRESENT CANON BED
This site is located in what is now the Navaho Indian Reservation in northeastern Arizona. It was a village of the people now generally known as the “Anasazi,” the prehistoric cultural group which preceded the development of the historic Pueblo people. It was probably abandoned by 1000-1200 A.D.
The cliff dwellings provided a natural defensive barricade against raiding nomads, whose attacks were probably becoming more frequent toward the end of the prehistoric period. The reason that these villages were abandoned is not fully understood although there are indications that there was increasing drought in the area as well as the increased hostile action from migrating nomads. There may have also been conflict within the villages which led some people to move away and establish new villages elsewhere.
It is not unusual to find a ruin on the valley floor below a cliff dwelling. It may pre-date the cliff dwelling and could have been used at the same time as that complex. Being more exposed to the elements over the centuries than the protected cliff houses, these sites tend to show greater deterioration.
The petroglyphs visible on the cliff wall are common in the Southwest. These are placed in an interesting location below the dwellings. You can imagine the difficulty of carving these large figures into the cliff. There are other, smaller figures off to the left side of the photograph and much lower. The next photograph in the kit deals with the possible meaning of the petroglyphs and how they were done.
2. William A. Bell
NO. 8 ROCK FORMATION WITH INDIAN WRITINGS
As in the other parts of the prehistoric world, the Native Americans of the Southwestern United States left many images drawn, carved, pecked, or painted on the sides of cliff walls, caves, etc. These “petroglyphs,” (Greek, petra, “rock;” gluphein, “to carve”), are not completely understood but probably had great symbolic content. It is also possible, however, that they may be little more than doodles. At any rate, they show an interest in symbolic and abstract designs and an ability to produce them.
Compare these designs with those on the photograph of the Canon de Chelly cliff dwellings. Imagine that you are an archeologist. How would you interpret the petroglyphs? How much of your interpretation comes out of your own experience and your understanding of the world around you?
3. John K. Hillers
PUEBLO DE TAOS, SOUTH TOWN, N.M.
This is the classic example of the multi-level apartment-style Pueblo structure still in existence today. Taos has been continuously occupied for about five hundred years—long before the Spanish arrived in 1598— and remains inhabited today. This image provides a good view of adobe architecture, including one structure which has not been plastered, affording a view of how the adobe bricks are laid. The roof beams, known as vigas, are clearly visible. Ladders are used to get from one level to another and also to get down into the rooms. The old Pueblos had no doors on the ground floor so that raiders could not get into the houses. In case of a raid the ladders could be pulled up and the inhabitants would be safe inside—something like pulling up the drawbridge in a castle. Today doors have been cut in the walls since the danger of attack has passed.
The Puebloans were farmers, relying on corn (maize),, beans, squash, gourds, pumpkins, and a variety of other vegetables. Some also raised turkeys, the only domesticated animal until European contact brought horses, cattle, sheep, etc. Hunting and gathering wild foods were still important activities. At Taos they still have an annual rabbit hunt, where they chase and kill rabbits with special throwing sticks. This picture shows a field of squash, gourds, or pumpkins just outside the wall.
Taos sits at an elevation of about 7000 feet above sea level and has a dry, cool climate with very warm days in the summer. Snow is frequent in the winter, supplying most of the water in the streams as it melts in the spring. The growing season is quite short, only about 120 days.
4. John K. Hillers
FIRST TERRACE OF ZUNI
This photograph provides a good view of the activities that went on in the Pueblos. Like Taos, Zuni has the apartment complex structure in the form of stacked blocks. These are offset so that some of the roofs form living areas, or “terraces.” A great deal of daily work took place there, such as pottery-making, cooking, and tanning animal hides. This picture clearly shows a hide pegged down for processing and indicates other activities such as pottery-making. Food is being dried, with corn scattered around and chiles hanging in strings, or ristras, on the walls. An horno, the beehive shaped oven, is being used for baking bread.
A most interesting piece is the decorated pot near the hide. It is painted with a typical Zuni design known as the “Rainbird,” which apparently came into use not many years before Hillers made this image. The chimneys are made of stacked pots and form a distinctive feature of the Pueblos. A ladder providing access to the ground floor rooms is visible in this picture.
This Pueblo had been occupied for several hundred years before the Spanish incursion of the late sixteenth century. It is located in the western part of New Mexico, almost to the Arizona border, and was less accessible than the Pueblos along the Rio Grande in north central New Mexico. Nevertheless, Zuni was very much a part of the history of the Southwest and remains a major part of the culture of the area.
5. John K. Hillers
PUEBLO VILLAGE, N.M
Zia (the modern spelling of the name), is one of the small Pueblos of north central New Mexico, known collectively as the “Rio Grande Pueblos,” because they are scattered along that river and its tributaries from Taos to Isleta. Zia is actually located on the Jemez River, which flows into the Rio Grande near Albuquerque.
This photograph shows an activity area which seems to have to do with public functions, almost certainly including ceremonials. The people are in a formal arrangement and one suspects that something is about to happen, especially considering the group gathered in the background—an audience, perhaps. Notice that the background group includes at least two Anglos. The two men at the center of the picture are dressed after the manner of the Apaches who lived in the Southwest and frequently raided the Pueblos.
Students may wish to discuss why the people are arranged as they are and why they are dressed as they are. In the absence of direct information we sometimes have to make “educated guesses” as to what is happening based on social groupings, clothing and decoration, and the general environment surrounding the activities. We may also use what we already know about the people or about human interaction in general. This often produces remarkably accurate estimates as to how people live.
You may also want to discuss why there are so few people in Hiller’s photographs and why they are not in motion. [See wet plate process.]
6. John K. Hillers
ORAIBI, MOKI TOWN
This village is part of the group of Pueblos known collectively as the Hopi. The Hopi are located in north central Arizona, making them the farthest west of any Pueblo group. Their relative isolation during the Spanish period helped them retain their traditional culture “undiluted” for a longer period than in some other Pueblos. The Hopi villages have been occupied for a long time. Today the old towns are in very much the same condition as they were when Hillers photographed them over a hundred years ago.
This view provides a good idea of a typical Western Pueblo, constructed mostly of stone as compared to the primarily adobe Eastern Pueblos. The Hopi villages were perched on top of three flat-topped hills called mesas. “Mesa” means table in Spanish and refers to the table like appearance of these hills. Hopi villages are identified as being First Mesa, Second Mesa, or Third Mesa. The villages have the typical Pueblo multi-story form.
The Hopi have retained a strong commitment to their old religion in the face of pressure from the Europeans to adopt Christianity. The kachina cults are still quite active, occupying an important place in the yearly cycle of life in the Pueblo.
Modern Hopi have a well-deserved reputation for fine work in the arts of pottery and jewelry-making. The most famous potters sell their wares for high prices and even the less well-known make a living selling their work to tourists and collectors.
7. John K. Hillers
This is a picture of members of the Southern Paiute people, living in the Great Basin area. There are several items in the picture which reveal something about the life-style, or culture, of these people. The central activity involves the use of the mano and metate, two stones—one flat and one like a cylinder—used to grind grains, seeds, etc. This woman is grinding grass seed into a kind of flour which will be used to prepare one of the main staples of the Paiute diet. It can be boiled into mush or made into a dough and baked to make bread. Gathering of such wild plant foods was the main occupation of many Great Basin peoples, who had no domestic plants or animals. Hunting was also done but it was not a major part of the food quest as it was among the buffalo-hunting Plains Indians.
The ground seed is pushed into the shallow basket you can see at the end of the metate. There are other baskets nearby. Basketry was the main form of material used for containers and also for many other items such as hats, sandals, etc. by these people. They were experts at the craft of basket-making. This is a good example of people using what was available as the basis for their material culture. Compare with the Plains and Pueblo Indians.
The brush structure is the only shelter these people usually used. They were easily constructed out of the abundant scrub brush and easily abandoned after a short stay, when the group had to move on in search of food. The Paiute generally lived and traveled in small groups, generally composed of family members.
8. John K. Hillers
KAIBAB PAIUTE. "WOMEN WATER CARRIERS"
These girls are using two major items in the material culture of many Native American groups—the water carrier and the burden strap. The water carrier, like much Paiute material culture, is basketry. The baskets were water-proofed with a coating of pitch or resin. It is another example of how completely peoples of this area relied on wild plants for virtually everything. The burden strap allows loads to be carried while leaving the hands free. They were used for activities from water carrying to seed or nut gathering to transporting goods on the move.
This photograph provides an accurate picture of the environmental conditions in the Great Basin area where these people lived. The sandy, scrub-brush desert landscape was broken up by low mesas or ridges, themselves barren and rocky. The harshness of the life is reflected in the images captured by Hillers and other photographers.
9. John K. Hillers
GIRLS WITH BASKETRY HATS
From the “Indians of the Colorado Valley” series. This photograph provides another good view of the major craft skill of the Paiute of the Great Basin—basketry. Unlike the other two images, however, these hats are not utilitarian ware. They are made to use as part of the decorative clothing of the people. The use of such hats was widespread in the “basketry culture” area including much of California as well as other parts of the far West. The work shown is fine twined basketry with decorative patterns worked into the weave. Different plants, such as the one called “Devil’s Claw,” were used to give a variety of colors.
Hillers made this stereograph, as he did many others, with an eye to selling them in the East. Native American photographs were popular but apparently sold better if the photographer composed them so as to conform to the stereotypic image Easterners had of the “Wild West.” Like many photographers, he oftentimes had his model(s), pose in something like these buckskin dresses. A photographer would be happy to supply the “typical” Native American clothing if the Native Americans he was photographing did not have it, as these Paiute probably did not since they frequently wore very little. Such stereographs were a good source of income for the traveling photographer and almost all of them carried a stereo camera regardless of what other equipment they had.
10. William Henry Jackson
WAR CHIEF'S TENT
This photograph was taken on Jackson’s visit to the camp of the Shoshone leader, Washakie. Although Jackson titled this stereograph, “War Chief’s Tent,” Washakie was well known as a friend of the whites. He may have been a war leader among his people when they fought other Native Americans, so the title is probably accurate. It would be interpreted by the Easterners who eagerly bought these stereo views of the “Wild West” as referring to “hostiles”—Native Americans at war with the U.S. Photographers frequently engaged in these subtle deceptions to stimulate sales of their work. Even though this photograph was taken more than twenty years before the last battle between the Plains Indians and the U.S. Cavalry, the Shoshone were on relatively good terms with the government and people of the United States.
This is a good view of a small camp of tepees of a Plains Indian group. Even though it is near the end of the classic Plains buffalo hunting culture it shows people who represent that culture and still lived primarily the life of the nomadic hunter.
11. Charles R. Savage
BAPTISM OF 250 INDIANS OF THE SHEBIT NATION BY THE MORMONS AT ST. GEORGE, UTAH
From the earliest days of European contact with the native peoples of the Americas, missionaries from virtually every type of Christian church have worked to convert the Native Americans. In the Southwest it was primarily the Catholic Franciscans and Jesuits who built missions and worked with the Native Americans; likewise in the Northeast, in earlier times, Catholic missionaries were very active, with the Jesuits in the forefront.
Later on, other Christian groups instituted mission activity among the Native Americans, especially in the area from the Great Plains to the Great Basin. In the Great Basin area the Mormons—whose stronghold was at Salt Lake City, Utah—worked among groups such as the Paiute to obtain converts to their way of life and religion. This photograph indicates that there was at least some degree of success, as a large group of Native Americans identified as “Shebit” await baptism. Although the new religion apparently had some impact, it is questionable as to how effective many missionaries were. Sometimes it seems the Native Americans found it easier to go along with the intruders than to openly resist.
The name, “Shebit,” is difficult to identify since it is not found in general accounts of the Great Basin area. It probably comes from a Southern Paiute group, the “Shivwits,” who today have a reservation in the southwestern part of Utah.
12. William Henry Jackson
AGENT AND INDIANS. OMAHA RESERVATION
This photograph, taken on the Omaha Indian Reservation about twenty years before the last of the Plains Indian battles, shows the agent with some of the Native Americans who had agreed to try the new life offered by the government. The agent was charged with responsibility not only for the Native Americans, but also with seeing that they were properly provisioned. The government had agreed to provide them with supplies and to help them make the difficult transition from nomadic hunting life to farming.
If you closely examine the image you may notice that the Native Americans are holding different objects, some elaborately decorated. Since they had committed themselves to reservation life they were not expected to function any longer in the old warrior/hunter pattern. The man with the bow and arrow is probably just posing for the photographer who wants to provide an image of the traditional ways of life. This is a stereograph and therefore designed for appeal to customers in the East. An armed warrior would be more saleable than a Native American trying to become a farmer. How does that fact affect the authenticity of these old photographs? You might want to discuss what happens in transitional periods when a cultural group is involved in massive change and alteration of their traditional life style.
13. Alexander Gardner
ST. MARY'S MISSION, KANSAS, POTTAWATTAMIE INDIAN SCHOOL, 90 MILES WEST OF MISSOURI RIVER
From Across the Continent on the Kansas Pacific Railroad
Part of Gardner’s “Across the Continent on the Kansas Pacific Railroad” series, this image makes some interesting points about Native American life in the latter half of the nineteenth century. This is a boy’s school like many run by various church groups as combination educational facility and missionary center. Although most of the students are Native American, there are some Anglo children visible. It is possible that these are part of the teacher/missionary’s family.
Native American children boarded at such schools would be expected to learn not only school subjects, but a whole life-style as well. They were usually isolated from their families and had no contact with their traditional culture. They would be required to speak English, wear Anglo clothing, and adopt Anglo customs.
This was part of the mission program in common practice at the time. The government wanted to reduce the number of warriors roaming the plains and to encourage Native Americans to give up the nomadic life and settle down. The mission school was an important part of that program although not officially an agency of the government.
14. Unidentified Photographer
GOLDMINERS AT DIG
This is a “daguerreotype,” the earliest practical photographic system. The Daguerreotype process was introduced in France in 1839 and it quickly gained popularity in the United States.
This image was made after gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill in California, touching off the famous “gold rush.” These men are like the thousands who dreamed of becoming rich by making a big “strike.” Only a few of the many who spent years searching for gold and other precious metals actually became wealthy. More often the prospectors would find just enough to keep them going and the hard life in the mountains took a heavy toll of life and health.
People came from all kinds of backgrounds to look for gold. In this picture you see several men working together at a prospecting/mining operation, using what would be called a placer system—a form of hydraulic mining popular at the time. Do you think that the men are from the same kind of background? How are they dressed? Use as many clues as you can find to try to piece together a picture of these men and how they lived.
15. B. H. Gurnsey
PARK CITY. A NEW MINING CAMP, UP STRAY HORSE GULCH, 2 MILES EAST OF LEADVILLE
Small “camps,” such as this one near Leadville, Colorado, sprang up all through the West wherever people thought they could become wealthy by “striking gold.” Small camps, sometimes consisting mostly of tents, could become towns in a matter of a few weeks if word got out that there was ore in the surrounding hills. Some of these became small cities with populations in the thousands. Miners were followed by purveyors of a variety of services, including everything from general merchandise to barbershops. A hotel might be opened with a cafe to provide food not only for those passing through but also to locals who couldn’t or wouldn’t cook for themselves. Some of the camps gained reputations for being “wild,” attracting a variety of characters who created problems for the town.
Some of the camps prospered and grew into towns and cities that are still important centers today, such as Denver, Colorado. Others were abandoned as quickly as they were populated and are the “ghost towns” of today. Many are known only from historical references and cannot even be found today.
16. C.M. Bell
THE DELEGATION OF SIOUX CHIEFS TO RATIFY THE SALE OF LANDS IN DAKOTA TO THE U. S. GOVERNMENT
Throughout the history of contact between Native Americans and Europeans, treaties have been made between individual tribes or other groups and whatever government was in power at the time—English, French, Spanish, U.S. In these treaties the Native Americans usually gave up land in exchange for goods, money, or other considerations. Many times the non-Native American party to the treaty did not understand the people with whom they negotiated, especially how they were organized and how they understood such concepts as ownership of land. Misunderstandings such as this were responsible for much of the conflict that often replaced friendly relationships initially established.
On the Great Plains this process reached its peak in the 1870’s and 1880’s. Treaties were made and broken many times with different Native American groups. Sometimes the representatives of the United States would go west to negotiate treaties with the Native Americans but sometimes the Native Americans went to Washington, D.C. for the occasion. They may be given suits of clothes, symbolic canes and/or medals, etc. to commemorate their visits. The government had an additional motive, however, in that the individual Native Americans they brought in to negotiate treaties were not always true representatives of tribal organizations and the way they were treated in Washington was supposed to legitimize their claim as “chiefs.” The canes and medals were important symbols of their position. The bitter wars fought in the West attest to the lack of success of this policy.
You might notice different things about the group. Are they all about the same age? If so, is this indicative of Dakota leadership? Notice their feet—some have adopted Anglo-style boots while others retain the traditional moccasin. Notice the names listed at the bottom of the photograph. These are mostly English translations or equivalents of Dakota names. What does this tell you about how some Native Americans were named? Some of the names are English rather than translated Native American names. What does this indicate? Do you think that Swift Bear, Hollow Horn Bear, Dog Bear, and Mad Bear are related because they are all named “Bear?” What other explanations could account for this?
These Sioux (Dakota), Native Americans were in Washington negotiating a treaty with the U.S. government in 1889. Note that that was just about a year before Sitting Bull, the famous Sioux leader, was killed by a force of Native American police and soldiers and two years before the Battle of Wounded Knee effectively ended Native American resistance on the Great Plains.
17. B. H. Gurnsey
UTE PASS, CO'S EIGHT MULE TEAMS
The original “teamsters.” This shows the somewhat hazardous method of transporting supplies to camps and towns in the mountains. It is incredible to think about the magnitude of this kind of enterprise. Literally hundreds of mules, wagons, and men were involved in the slow process of moving goods over the most minimal roads. Everything people needed had to be brought overland in caravans like this—clothing, tools, foodstuffs, building materials, and all other types of goods such as tobacco, books, magazines, and other “luxury” items. Travel was slow and uncertain, and prices in the camps often reflected that fact, making modern inflation look pale by comparison.
Why do you think truck drivers today are members of a union called the “teamsters?” How do modern trucks compare to these mule trains of the last century? What do you imagine to be in those wagons?
18. B. H. Gurnsey
THE UTE PASS WAGON ROAD
This image shows a regular overland stagecoach on a mountain road. Can you imagine traveling in one of these coaches? Take a good look at the road. What would it be like traveling there after a good rain? The stage is pulled by a four-horse team, with two men in the driver’s seat. How does this arrangement compare with what you expected a real stagecoach to look like?
It is hard for us, with our fast cars, to imagine how long a trip took by stage. Imagine yourself in this coach. Where are you going? How long will it take to get there? What kind of experiences do you expect on the trip?
19. A. J. Russell
STAGE STATION, HANGING ROCK, ECHO CANON
Before railroads made crossing the American West relatively simple and fast, the stage lines were the primary mode of transportation if one did not wish, or was not able, to travel alone by horseback or wagon. Since horses move at a rate of speed which to us today would seem a snail’s pace, and since they had to have rest and food periodically, it was necessary to stop after traveling short distances, sometimes only a few miles a day. Stage stations were very important under such circumstances. They supplied fresh horses for the stage and a resting stop for the passengers. People could at least get out and walk around for a while and perhaps be able to eat or spend the night, depending on the type of facilities the station offered. Isolated stage stations, manned by only a few people, and having a supply of horses on hand, would be prime targets for Native American raids.
Imagine living at one of these stations. What other problems do you think you would face every day?
20. Charles R. Savage
SNOW PLOW IN A DRIFT, BLOCKADE OF 1872
With the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869 travel across the West was greatly improved. Problems still occurred—Native Americans were still at war with the U.S. and trains could be targets for attack. The lines crossed isolated stretches where trains could be attacked by outlaws. Nature, itself, created problems as well.
In this photograph a specially equipped snow plow train has been brought in to clear a section of track blocked as a result of a major storm. This probably happened in the mountains where heavy snows are common a large part of the year.
This view shows what sort of equipment was developed at that time to deal with emergencies, as well as showing the basic form of the nineteenth century locomotives.
21. Alfred A. Hart
ADVANCE OF CIVILIZATION. SCENE ON THE HUMBOLDT DESERT
Well-named, this image does indeed show two of the most powerful influences in the advance of “civilization” along the frontier—the railroad and the telegraph. Fast, relatively safe travel and rapid communication were largely responsible for the transformation of the West in the latter half of the nineteenth century.
This view also shows the flat, treeless Plains very well. The land is still flat today, of course, but is crossed by major highways as well as railroad tracks and telephone lines. Also, there are numerous towns and cities that grew up in the West as a result of the opening of the frontier by technologies such as these. This photograph represents a major, though not the first, step in the process.
This is a good opportunity to discuss the process of transformation in the West and compare how it was before and after the railroads and telegraph lines.
An additional note: Today we are all impressed by the rapid progress of technology and its impact on our lives. It might be good for students’ perspective to point out a period when changes just as dramatic took place and how these changes impacted on the lives of the people and on the flow of history. Most of the photographs in this kit were made during the 1870’s and 1880’s. Between 1876 and 1903 the following were introduced to the world:
Transparent photographic roll film
22. Carleton E. Watkins
TU-TOCH-ANULA OR EL CAPITAN. 3600 FT. HIGH
This is one of the popular features of Yosemite National Park. It was photographs such as this one that helped convince Congress to preserve this area as a national park.
Photographers such as Watkins took pictures in these wilderness areas with the wet plate cameras which required a great deal of skill and patience. Watkins used a camera that was 18x22 inches for many of his landscapes, carrying the burdensome equipment over very rough terrain to obtain these images. On his expedition to Yosemite he had to use twelve mules just to carry the equipment to the base camp and then required five mules every day just to transport the equipment for the day’s work!
23. William Henry Jackson
PANORAMA OF DENVER
This view shows how some cities had grown right in the heart of the frontier by the end of the 1870’s. Denver, at the foot of the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains in central Colorado, was a sprawling city with a number of large brick buildings done in the architectural style of the period (remember that much of the West was developed during the Victorian Period and much of the architecture reflected that influence),. Established in 1858 as a mining camp, Denver had become a major center and a rapidly growing city in just twenty years. It was the growth of such communities which hastened the end of the frontier and the advent of commercial, urban, middle America.
24. B. H. Gurnsey
MANITOU HOUSE, MANITOU, COLORADO
August 11, 1891
The series of images of which this is a part were made between 1872 and 1880. Not far from Denver, this hotel illustrates the degree of sophistication attained in the 1870’s in some parts of the “Wild West.” The building conforms to architectural styles of the day and would be patronized by people who did not represent the characterization we commonly attribute to the frontier. This is quite different from a stagecoach stop or overnight inn for a variety of itinerants. This would have all the services expected in a resort hotel for the comfort and convenience of its guests.
Examine this photograph closely. You can get an idea of what would have been the height of fashion at that time. Give some thought to what it means for our understanding of social history in the latter nineteenth century to have places such as Manitou House and cities like Denver in the midst of a region we have though of as wild and untamed.
25. Unidentified Photographer
SARSEE INDIANS DANCING IN CALGARY
The young Sarsee Indians in this picture are creating Native American dances for a tourist public. By 1891 the last days of the warriors had passed, the frontier was rapidly giving way to a more settled and peaceful life, and the twentieth century was rapidly approaching. Frontiers would no longer be measured across the middle of the country. Young men such as those pictured would not have direct memory of the pre-reservation days although their parents and grandparents would remember them well. Native American economy was now based largely on tourism rather than hunting, trading, and raiding. The effort was to provide shows that would entertain tourists, principally coming from the East. Accuracy was not always as important as excitement. People seem to have wanted to believe that the Wild West was still there and the Native Americans were key figures in the fantasy.
The type of tourist show established in the late nineteenth century persists today in many places. In some areas the dances and other ceremonials adhere closely to the traditional culture, as in the Pueblo Southwest, but many have little to do with native culture as recorded earlier.
The Sarsee lived at the far northwestern edge of the Great Plains, in what is now Alberta, Canada. It is of interest to note that what is known as a reservation in the U.S. is called a reserve in Canada.
This photograph was taken with a Kodak camera and represents an early version of the tourist “snapshot.” The round picture format was used in the early Kodaks and was discontinued in favor of the modern square image about 1897.
26. William Henry Jackson
PHOTOGRAPHING IN HIGH PLACES
This image was made when Jackson was working in the Grand Teton mountain area with the Hayden Survey. It is dated July, 1872. The important thing about this picture is the view it gives of the circumstances under which these men worked to obtain the photographs. You can see the photographer at work near his dark tent, with boxes and other equipment lying about. Remember that all this had to be hauled up to the ledge, unpacked, and set up, and then, after the picture was taken, repacked and carried down again. And this picture does not even show the large wet plate camera and its tripod which was used to make the photograph! Add to that the gear that had to be transported. Do you begin to understand the accomplishment of these frontier photographers?
The transportation problems were only part of what the frontier photographer faced. Chemicals had to be protected from excessive heat, cold, wet, dust, etc. to retain their effectiveness. Glass plates had to be protected from breakage both before and after they became negatives. The amazing thing is the quality of the photographs taken under those circumstances. Most of the images are clear, composition is good, and there is a fine attention to detail.
27. Timothy O'Sullivan
"THE IMMORTAL FEW" PARLEY'S PARK, WAHSATCH MOUNTAINS
This image was made by O’Sullivan during the U.S. Geological Survey of the 40th parallel led by George M. Wheeler in the early 1870’s. These men—and others like them in the expeditions of Powell and others—were charged with the task of exploring and mapping large areas of the then-unsettled west. They endured long months in the field, often working under difficult conditions. Their work went a long way toward opening up the west to settlement, the railroads, etc. in the post-Civil War expansion period. We are fortunate that the practice of including a photographer in the survey crew has provided us with so many exciting images of that important era, such as those included in this kit.
The bearded gentleman leaning against the center pole of the tent is probably the expedition leader, George M. Wheeler.