NW Life | Local

Oregon Historical Photo: Relief Train At Bridal Veil

OPB | June 30, 2014 midnight | Updated: July 3, 2014 3:49 p.m.

Contributed By:

Relief train at Bridal Veil, Columbia River Gorge east of Rooster Rock, 1884-1885. Photographer Carleton Watkins accompanied workers sent to rescue a passenger train trapped by snow slides during a severe blizzard.  During the trip — his final one to the Gorge -- Watkins documented the mission and photographed many beautiful winter landscapes, completing the pictorial chronicle he began in 1867.

Relief train at Bridal Veil, Columbia River Gorge east of Rooster Rock, 1884-1885. Photographer Carleton Watkins accompanied workers sent to rescue a passenger train trapped by snow slides during a severe blizzard.  During the trip — his final one to the Gorge -- Watkins documented the mission and photographed many beautiful winter landscapes, completing the pictorial chronicle he began in 1867.

The Oregon Historical Society. Carleton Watkins Photographs, Org. Lot 93. New series D-113.

Every week, Oregon Experience shares a photo highlighting the state’s diverse, exciting history. All photos are courtesy of The Oregon Historical Society.

Adventuresome early practitioners of photography were first drawn to the Columbia River Gorge by the grandeur of its wilderness landscapes. Carleton Watkins took what was likely the first photo of Multnomah Falls in 1867, using a mammoth wet-plate glass negative. Over nearly a century, skilled photographers created a stunning visual record of the rapid transformation of the Gorge that was already underway by the mid-18th century.  

The last 200 years have brought monumental changes. Railroads superseded steamboats, bringing newcomers by the thousands and accelerating economic development. Canneries and new technologies disrupted ancient fishing practices and native communities. Two large hydroelectric dams insured a new future for the region but, by their very nature, destroyed a significant part of the river’s past.

Working with innovations in equipment and technique, photographers — both men and women — documented much of this change. Although many prints and negatives have been damaged by light or just time, other images have been rescued and given new life through technologies such as digital scanning.  

To learn more about how early photography documented history in the Columbia River Gorge, watch the Oregon Experience documentary “The River They Saw.”

Comments

blog comments powered by Disqus
Thanks to our Sponsors:
become a sponsor
Thanks to our Sponsors
become a sponsor