Rounding Cape Horn. Road to Iowa Hill from the river, in the distance.

Object Details


Rounding Cape Horn. Road to Iowa Hill from the river, in the distance.


Alfred A. Hart (American, 1816 - 1908)




Iowa Hill, California, United States (Place depicted)


1866 - 1869


Albumen silver print

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Alfred A. Hart courageously positioned himself atop a steam engine to make this stereograph overlooking Cape Horn and the American River gorge in the Sierra Nevada mountains. The tracks along this section of the Central Pacific Railroad, which are between twelve and twenty-two hundred feet above the bottom of the gorge, hug the steep mountainside, providing a thrilling experience for train passengers. Breathtaking views of the wilderness landscape added to the tourists' exhilaration.

Cape Horn was a popular subject for photographers, who sold their images to the railroad, as well as to tourists who wanted souvenirs. After Hart's negatives became the property of the Central Pacific Railroad, other company photographers, including Carleton E. Watkins, subsequently printed them and failed to properly credit Hart. Watkins made numerous fine photographs of Cape Horn himself; he printed Hart's image sometime around 1870.

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