Full Text

Chapter Twenty. Rich Crevices of Inquiry: Mining and Environmental History

Katherine G. Morrissey

Subject History » Environmental History
Study of History » Historiography

Place Americas » Northern America

Period 1000 - 1999

Key-Topics natural law, nature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405156653.2010.00022.x


Master nineteenth-century photographer Carleton Watkins is arguably best known for his classic images of Western landscapes. Watkins produced some of the earliest photographs of Yosemite, striking images that helped shape an aesthetic appreciation of the glaciated valley. Western US and environmental historians are likely familiar with the story often told about those particular photographs, the thirty taken with a new mammoth-plate camera, as well as the hundred or so stereographs. Exhibited in New York, the mammoth prints attracted wide attention and, along with the stereograph sets, influenced the 1864 legislation to set aside Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove as a California state park – a precursor to the national parks movement. These landscape photographs, however, are only one part of Watkins’ portfolio. As a commercial photographer, he also employed his majestic skills in other venues. On commissions from railroads, entrepreneurs, and resource developers, he documented the ongoing industrial transformation of that very same Western natural environment. Although we might consider industrial photographs and landscape photographs as two distinct genres, for Watkins, as for many of his nineteenth-century counterparts, they were closely linked. In fact, Watkins had been engaged in seeing the Western environment from a mining perspective ever since his arrival in California. ... log in or subscribe to read full text

Log In

You are not currently logged-in to Blackwell Reference Online

If your institution has a subscription, you can log in here:


     Forgotten your password?

Find out how to subscribe.

Your library does not have access to this title. Please contact your librarian to arrange access.

[ access key 0 : accessibility information including access key list ] [ access key 1 : home page ] [ access key 2 : skip navigation ] [ access key 6 : help ] [ access key 9 : contact us ] [ access key 0 : accessibility statement ]

Blackwell Publishing Home Page

Blackwell Reference Online ® is a Blackwell Publishing Inc. registered trademark
Technology partner: Semantico Ltd.

Blackwell Publishing and its licensors hold the copyright in all material held in Blackwell Reference Online. No material may be resold or published elsewhere without Blackwell Publishing's written consent, save as authorised by a licence with Blackwell Publishing or to the extent required by the applicable law.

Back to Top