First Construction Train passing the Palisades, Ten Mile Cañon

Object Details


First Construction Train passing the Palisades, Ten Mile Cañon


Alfred A. Hart (American, 1816 - 1908)
Carleton Watkins (American, 1829 - 1916)




Nevada, United States (Place depicted)


negative 1866 - 1869; print after 1870


Albumen silver print


Mount: 8.7 × 17.6 cm (3 3/8 × 6 15/16 in.)

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The bold cliffs of Colorado's Ten Mile Canyon form a striking background for a Central Pacific Railroad train passing through on its way from California to Utah. Not visible in the image, however, are the Shoshone Indians who inhabited this region. While the railroad successfully united the states, it routinely disrupted the Native American environment and way of life. Trains brought settlers to the new, western lands and thus played a significant role in displacing native peoples.

Though Alfred A. Hart made this stereograph, its mount bears Carleton E. Watkins's name. Watkins was a San Francisco-based photographer who also chose the railroad as a primary subject. Because Hart's negatives belonged to the Central Pacific Railroad, they were subsequently printed by other company photographers who, like Watkins, did not properly credit Hart.

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

Kibbey, Mead B. The Railroad Photographs of Alfred A. Hart, Artist (Sacramento: Calfiornia State Library Foundation, 1996), p. 146.