Skip to comments.How the Wild West REALLY looked: Gorgeous sepia-tinted pictures show the landscape as it was charted
Posted on 08/17/2013 8:45:52 AM PDT by re_tail20
These remarkable 19th century sepia-tinted pictures show the American West as you have never seen it before - as it was charted for the first time.
The photos, by Timothy O'Sullivan, are the first ever taken of the rocky and barren landscape.
At the time federal government officials were travelling across Arizona, Nevada, Utah and the rest of the west as they sought to uncover the land's untapped natural resources.
(Excerpt) Read more at dailymail.co.uk ...
Gorgeous sepia-tinted pictures show the landscape as it was charted for the very first time
Hope this hasn’t been posted before. I did check.
simply carrying a camera and the necessary equipment such a Glass Plate Negatives....ie. FILM... to make such photos to those locales was a mission of great courage back in those days.
When I was a child in the ‘40s and deep into the romance of the weekly Saturday morning “Westerns” that showed at the local movie house, I told my father that when I grew up I wanted to “move out West”. My father laughed and said, “You’re in California, and that’s about as far west as you can get.”
I was so disappointed, since my paved street filled with houses on small lots and kids riding bicycles looked like nothing in the movies.
BTW, my family moved to CA at about the time those early photos were taken. I wonder what those pioneers would thnk now!
About a year ago ;) Seriously there was almost the identical article with many of those pix a while back. And they are still breathtaking.
I live near the Mohave County AZ pic site. Beautiful area in a desolate 130 deg way. A must see in the winter though.
Beautiful pictures....I love sepia.
very nice..back when the feds didn’t start owning them
Thanks for posting.
Just stunning. I had the honor and pleasure of riding a bicycle across the country many years ago, and the West is breathtaking. God is amazing in His creation.
Those pictures are awesome. Amazingly clear and in many cases very artistic compositions. It’s like a time machine to be able to see those sort of pictures from the Wild West. Imagine towing the camera equipment of that era around the West.
The previous expedition to explore this area was in 1776, by two Spanish priests. They left Santa Fe hoping to discover an easy land route to Monterey, California. They gave up after many months, never reaching California, but documenting the area between the Rockies and California.
These early photographers and painters were the first people who could document the west for the benefit of the people living east. Much of the interest in setting up national parks and preserving the beauty of the west came from viewing these photographs and paintings.
depp is an ............
Those are some amazing pictures.
When I visited the Snake River area, calling it the “Shoshone Falls” was an exaggeration. What I saw was more like the “Shoshone Trickle.” I would love to see the falls sometime.
If you drive the interstate (90 or 94) across the north, you can see some really spectacular scenery.
I recall my uncle telling me that some of our ancestors served as guides for these wealthy tourists from the East.
The tourist would meet with the locals and ask if they knew of interesting places . They would offer to pay for the tour. They would also ask to be guided to the next settlement further west. Usually by someone who had relatives or acquaintances in that village.
I recognize quite a few of the locations. Scary huh? Love the picture of Pyramid Lake. Which, for those that don’t know, is where the Truckee river ends in it’s flow from Lake Tahoe, which used to be called Lake Bigler. (I just learned that so consider me “new” to the area I guess.)
Haunting and beautiful photographs that capture the wild expanse of the desert Southwest and the lives of a dying people.
Oh, that’s funny....
You guys are such cards....
This disappoint all the pinkos who teach our kids that the West was wall to wall gun violence and massacres perpetrated by evil American settlers.
The resolution in those photos is amazing.
I’m not sure a modern camera could best these.
Thank-you!.....my first big trip out West last year to Colorado, Texas, Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, Texas etc.....and once you get past the cities much of the scenery is still the same as these photos.....very bleak but beautiful.
The photos are amazing. Thanks for posting.
The country is pretty much the same as it was back then. It can be very hard on the unprepared.
Thanks for posting this. I was familiar with O’Sullivan’s pictures from the Civil War, but had no idea he had traveled West. Great pictures. It would be nice to have side by side, “then & now” photos of the identified sites like those done of Gettysburg and Antietam by William A. Frassanito.
We have a book of photographs of Custer’s 1874 expedition into the Black Hills. What is amazing about it is that the author/historian/photographer who put the book together took a large format camera with the same framing dimensions as Custer’s photographer used, and painstakingly found and setup in the exact same spots, then used the old pictures to meticulously frame the modern photograph identically to the old.
The book has the old and the modern photos on facing pages, so they can be viewed together. Many of the old stumps from fires them are still extant; and some of the trees that in a unique location are still there, only 130 years older/larger; or now a recognizable snag.
The most amazing thing though is that in almost every photo, the modern scene is much more heavily forested, despite settlement. In the 1870s, the entire region was relatively sparsely forested. A couple of shots show Custer’s column in the middle distance, and the modern show the modern road almost exactly in his wagons’ tracks.
Industrial revolution: The mining town of Gold Hill, just south of Virginia City, Nevada, in 1867 was town whose prosperity was preserved by mining a rare silver ore called Comstock Lode.
No, this one.
I should have worded better, instead of giving the impression it was strictly Custer’s expedition; that’s only part of it, though naturally the oldest photos used for comparison.
Also, for the Exploring With Custer, the listed author on Amazon is Grafe, but if you check here http://isbndb.com/subject/black_hills_s_d_and_wyo_discovery_and_exploration one finds out it is actually Grafe and Horsted.
Horsted expanded the scope of the photographic work, and published the book we have.
It is a little known and hardly publicized fact that Native Americans used fire to manage the extent of forest and grasslands. The landscape was manipulated for hundreds (if not thousands) of years by the hand of man. Not quite as pristine as most believed and were taught.
The best thing about the “west” is the relative absence of LIBs...now and then. That lends itself to more civility, sanity and freedom.
Ain’t that the truth! I spent many of my formative years in Wintun/Modoc country of N. California, and was well aware of that. In the case there, it wasn’t for planting, but to keep large brush & encroaching scrub down. That encouraged growth of new browse & increased the amount of transition forest areas for better hunting.
Also, though, when ‘slash and burn agriculture’ is mentioned in social studies, the implications are not mentioned, and the kids never think about it. The impression left is that small plots around a village had brush burned off of them for planting of ‘the three sisters’, and all lived in peace and harmony, at one with Nature, until the Evil White Man came.
Exactly, you nailed it. It was to increase and promote better hunting areas. And, farther east, to increase grasslands for buffaloe and other prairie game herds (same thing essentially, just different target animals).
Slash/burn agriculture was/is only used in tropical forests, and not in NA. And the North/Central American Native Americans had very a sophistocated agriculture anyway, much more advanced than slash/burn.
Those wet plate photos are incredible, and the amount of effort to get each one I can only imagine. Humping around a big camera, mixing the collodion, applying it, taking the picture and developing all before the collodion dries, adjusting for temperature on the fly, storing the glass negatives.
This guy was a master. Impressive photos.
Yup. There is a good book on the subject with regards to where I live now (New England), ‘Changes in the Land’. A little preachy at times, but a solid look at how natives tamed the landscape here. Early settlers were impressed by the park-like landscape (tall massive trees, little undergrowth), then a generation later wondered why it became a brambly, thorny thicket.
Easier to attract browsing herbivores like deer to new growth and a LOT easier to shoot them with a bow and arrow if you don’t have thick vegetation in the way.
Thanks for the post. Beautiful stuff!