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Oregon Historical Photo: Capturing The Frontier


Children posing in goat-drawn carts were popular photo subjects in the early 1900s. Amos Voorhies, owner and publisher of the Rogue River Courier weekly newspaper in Grants Pass, bicycled around rural Southern Oregon with a bulky glass-plate camera, capturing children at play, families posed in front of their houses, men and women working at everyday tasks and other facets of frontier life that otherwise would have been lost to history.

Children posing in goat-drawn carts were popular photo subjects in the early 1900s. Amos Voorhies, owner and publisher of the Rogue River Courier weekly newspaper in Grants Pass, bicycled around rural Southern Oregon with a bulky glass-plate camera, capturing children at play, families posed in front of their houses, men and women working at everyday tasks and other facets of frontier life that otherwise would have been lost to history.

Amos Voorhies Collection, Lloyd Smith Photo Collections

Every week, Oregon Experience shares a photo highlighting the state’s diverse, exciting history.

At the turn of the 20th century, rural Southern Oregon was still a rough frontier. Communities flourished and died away into ghost towns. The photographic record of this rich history might have been lost. Instead, one man has spent nearly 35 years collecting thousands of vintage regional images, many of everyday people, bringing those decades to life.

Teacher and photographer Lloyd Smith bought a box of historic glass-plate negatives at a garage sale, sparking a passion that has developed into a large private collection, mostly of Southern Oregon in the 1890s to 1910s. Images range from studio portraits to candid family gatherings. People pose with pets, work animals, farm equipment and bicycles. Most of their names are lost but their lives are revealed.

To safeguard this treasure for future generations, Smith spent years carefully preserving and digitally scanning thousands of images from more than a century ago. Now they are collected into albums that he is sharing free online.

Watch the Oregon Experience documentary “Capturing Oregon’s Frontier” to learn about this recovered history and visit the Lloyd Smith Photo Collections online.

Capturing Oregon's Frontier

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