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The Royal Gorge, Grand Canyon of the Arkansas
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This image is available for download, without charge, under the Getty's Open Content Program.

William Henry Jackson
American, Colorado, 1881 - 1896
Albumen print
21 3/8 x 16 13/16 in.
85.XM.5.28

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Telegraph lines and neatly laid wood ties and iron rails contrast with the irregular pattern of a canyon's craggy rock face, signaling that the introduction of the railroad into remote areas forever altered the landscape. The arrival of trains along the Arkansas River, which flows through Colorado and Kansas, also marked a shift in the region's economy. Barges and steamboats had previously controlled the movement of goods and passengers along the river, but the railroad's lower fares soon led to a new monopoly on transportation in the area. This photograph specifically illustrates a narrow section of the river that would have been difficult for large water vessels to navigate. Though laying tracks in this area was challenging, engineers devised structures, such as the short bridge in the distance, that overcame all obstacles.