In 1867, Alexander Gardner (October 17, 1821 – December 10, 1882) was appointed chief photographer to the Eastern Division of Union Pacific Railway (renamed the Kansas Pacific Railway in March 1869).
In the fall of 1867, Gardner, an immigrant from Scotland best known for his photographs of the US Civil War, journeyed from Washington DC, where he’d been running the Mathew Brady’s photography gallery, to St. Louis, Missouri where he met up with the survey party seeking the best route for the proposed southern branch of transcontinental railroad.
From St. Louis, the survey party traveled through Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona to San Francisco, California.
The photographs, taken during the expedition in 1867 and 1868, were published in a portfolio of 127 albumen pictures entitled Across the Continent on the Kansas Pacific Railroad (Route of the 35th Parallel) circa 1869.
The Journey begins: Depot of Pacific Railroad, St. Louis, Mo.
On March 9, 1869 a joint resolution of Congress authorized the changing of the Union Pacific Railway Company, Eastern Division’s name to the Kansas Pacific Railway Company. Although all of the photographs published in Across the Continent on the Kansas Pacific Railroad (Route of the 35th Parallel) are attributed to Gardner, some of the images may have been taken by one of the other photographers Gardner supervised on the expedition.
“As official photographer for the expedition, Gardner was allowed to published all the expedition photographs under his name. In 1867 he stated in a deposition that although a photograph was identified on the mount as a ‘Photograph by A. Gardner,’ it simply meant that it was printed or copied in his gallery; he was not necessarily the photographer. The other photographers on the expedition were Dr. William A. Bell, William R. Pywell, and Gardner’s son, Lawrence, who apprenticed on the expedition.” [Katz, D. Mark (1991). Witness to an era: the life and photographs of Alexander Gardner: the Civil War, Lincoln, and the West. Nashville, Tennessee: Rutledge Hill. Page 220]; Images most likely published in 1869.
“Along with images made by photographers under his [Alexander Gardner’s] supervision, his photographs were published in an album titled Across the Continent on the Kansas Pacific Railyway (Route of the 35th Parallel), offered for sale on April, 1869.”
– Marien, Mary Warner (2006). Photography: a cultural history. London: Laurence King Publishing Ltd.
Massachusetts Avenue, Lawrence, Kansas, 38 miles west of Missouri River.
Overlooking Lawerence and the Kansas River. Creator:Contributor- Gardner, Alexander, 1821-1882 (photographer)
Topeka, Capital of Kansas, in 1867, 68 miles west of Missouri River
St. Mary’s Mission, Kansas, Pottawatamie School, 90 miles west of Missouri River.
Banks of the Kaw, near Fort Riley, 135 miles west of Missouri River.
Shipping Point for Texan Cattle, Abilene, Kansas, 162 miles west of Missouri River.
On the Kansas Plains, 185 miles west of Missouri River.
Mushroom Rock on Alum Creek, Kansas, 211 miles west of Missouri River.
View near Fort Harker, Kansas, 216 miles west of Missouri River.
Castle Rock, Kansas, on the Smoky Hill, 385 miles west of Missouri River.
Runk’s Division of the Engineer Corps on the Plains.
Church at Isletta, New Mexico, on the Rio Grande, below Albuquerque, 871 miles west of Missouri River.
Zuni near border of New Mexico and Arizona.
Engineer camp at the Zuni Pass, in the Sierra Madre, N.M., 975 miles west of Missouri River.
Zuni Pass, New Mexico, summit of Sierra Madre. (Water Shed of Contient,) November, 1867; 980 miles west of Missouri River.
Ancient Pueblo Town of Zuni, Western New Mexico,
The two races, at Fort Mojave, Arizona.
Yucca tree, Spanish Bayonet, on the Great Basin, Southern California; Sierra Nevada in the distance, 1670 miles from Missouri River.
Canada de las Uvas, or Tejon Pass in Sierra Nevada, California, 1,690 miles west of Missouri River.
Seal Rocks, in Pacific Ocean, near San Francisco, 1,955 miles west of Missouri River. Last scene of all in this strange, eventful history.