Railroad Vision (March 3 to June 23, 2002)
- The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), March 5 to June 23, 2002
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Cameron's Cone from "Tunnel 4," Colorado Midland Railway
William Henry Jackson (American, 1843 - 1942)
Albumen silver print
53.3 x 44 cm (21 x 17 5/16 in.)
Singing through the forest, rattling over ridges,
Shooting over arches, dashing under bridges,
Whizzing through the mountain, buzzing o'er the vale,
Bless me this is pleasant riding on a rail.
This ballad from the 1840s reflects passengers' excitement about train travel, which made it possible to speed through the landscape at a new pace--three times as fast as stagecoaches. To achieve this efficiency, rails had to be level, so engineers built bridges, trestles, and tunnels to facilitate an even path. William Henry Jackson made this photograph standing in one such engineering achievement--a tunnel for the Colorado Midland Railway. He positioned his camera so that the craggy mouth of the tunnel created a natural frame for a well-dressed group of passengers assembled on and around a train's caboose, with the mountains beyond. This photograph would have been an excellent advertisement, illustrating the ease of passengers, and the beauty of the scenery.