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"The Loop" near Georgetown, Colorado
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This image is available for download, without charge, under the Getty's Open Content Program.

William Henry Jackson
American, Colorado, about 1885
Albumen print
17 1/2 x 19 1/8 in.
85.XM.5.35

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A steam engine winds through the steep, rocky terrain of the American West on a tightly curved loop of track above a rushing river--an exciting sight for viewers in the 1800s. Since railroad tracks commonly passed through areas that were previously inaccessible, such landscapes were often unfamiliar. Railroad photographers sought to depict the grand engineering achievements of the trains in ways that would most appeal to their potential customers. As part of an awe-inspiring landscape, bridges, tunnels, and loops like this one appeared even more magnificent.