Some of the most famous photographs of 19th century railroading in the United States will go on display Saturday at Golden Spike Historic Site, officials say.
The 60 photographs by Andrew J. Russell will be at the northern Utah historic site through May 29, said Superintendent Denny Davies. They primarily depict the building of the nation's first transcontinental railroad."The construction of the Pacific railroad was hailed as the great work of the age, a monumental undertaking many thought could not be completed in a lifetime," said Davies.
The Union Pacific and Central Pacific tracks were linked up May 10, 1869 at Utah's Promontory Summit 80 miles northwest of Salt Lake City, now included in the Golden Spike National Historic Site.
"After seven years of planning and building, the task was complete," said Davies. "Russell traveled with the Union Pacific crews from Laramie, Wyo., to Promontory during 1868 and 1869, recording this historic event."
Russell was 40 when he was hired as the Union Pacific's official photographer. During the year he was with the crews, he made 200 glass-plate negatives and 400 stereoscopic views of the project, Davies said.
The pictures included in the display show track laying, bride building, work camps "and growing railroad communities that capture the excitement of frontier life in the rapidly expanding nation," he said.
Russell achieved national fame for his Civil War pictures and illustrations while serving as a captain in the Union Army. But, beginning in the mid 1870s and for nearly a century, many of his works were attributed to another man.
"Lecturer and promoter Stephen J. Sedgwick acquired Russell's negatives in 1873 and published them under his own imprint," said Davies. "It was not until 1960 that the photographs were reattributed to Russell."