Railroad Bridge, Kaw River
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Alexander Gardner
American, Lawrence, Kansas, 1867
Albumen print
13 x 18 11/16 in.

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In 1867 the Kansas Pacific and Union Pacific railroads hired Alexander Gardner to document the building of a rail route to Calfornia. While in Kansas, Gardner photographed the local line, the Leavenworth, Lawrence, and Galveston Railroad. Here a large group of men gathers upon and around a steam engine that has just traversed a bridge across the Kaw River. Gardner included a large aqueduct on the right, which cast a dark, pierced shadow over the river's barren near shore. A picturesque row of buildings and largely leafless trees lines the riverbank in the distance. Unlike most phototgraphs documenting railroads and railroad construction in the 1800s, this image was made in an area already inhabited by settlers.