[Trestle Bridge Near Fort Harker, Kansas]

Object Details


[Trestle Bridge Near Fort Harker, Kansas]


Alexander Gardner (American, born Scotland, 1821 - 1882)






Albumen silver print


33.2 x 47 cm (13 1/16 x 18 1/2 in.)

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Following his tour of duty as a Civil War photographer, Alexander Gardner headed west. Construction of a transcontinental railroad became a national priority after the destructive years of war, and Gardner followed its course. He photographed the Eastern Division of the Union Pacific Railroad as it stretched across Kansas from the Missouri River to its junction with the main line at Hays City, Kansas.

Small figures punctuate the barely discernible flatbed cars that link the engine and caboose and span the entire length of the trestle bridge. They seem to merge with the bridge itself, transforming the train-and-bridge into a chain pulled taut across the hilly landscape. Additional tiny figures, including a lone man in the near distance who watches the photographer intently, pepper the ground below, as though cast off by the train.

Arrows of Time: Photographs from the J. Paul Getty Museum (January 24 to April 2, 1995)
  • Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Cultural Center at UCLA (Los Angeles), January 24 to April 2, 1995
Across the Indian Country: Photographs by Alexander Gardner, 1867-1868 (July 26, 2014 to January 11, 2015) (22)
  • The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (Kansas City), July 26, 2014 to January 11, 2015

Sherow, James E. Railroad Empire Across the Heartland. Rephotographing Alexander Gardner's Westward Journey. Photographs by John R. Charlton (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2014), p. 136.

Aspinwall, Jane L. Alexander Gardner: The Western Photographs, 1867-1868 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014), p. 67.