Views on the Mississippi:
The Photographs of Henry Peter Bosse
Robert L. Craig, Ph.D.
Department of Journalism and Mass Communication
University of St. Thomas
2115 Summit Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55105-1096
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Mark Neuzil, Ph.D.
Department of Journalism and Mass Communication
University of St. Thomas
2115 Summit Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55105-1096
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Paper submitted to Visual Communication Division, Association for
Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, 1996, Anaheim, Calif.
Views on the Mississippi:
The Photographs of Henry Peter Bosse
This paper discusses the recent discovery of the 19th century
survey photographs taken by an obscure U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
artist/photographer, Henry Peter Bosse (1844-1903). The photographs, taken
between 1883 and 1891, are views of the Upper Mississippi River from St. Paul,
Minn., to St. Louis, Mo. While Bosse's photographs have begun to receive
attention in the world of art, this paper argues that for visual communication
scholars and journalism historians, his photographs, and indeed all survey
photographs, become much more meaningful if placed within the broader historical
contexts of society and culture.
The Discovery of Henry P. Bosse's Photographs
In 1990, a bound volume of photographs was discovered in a
Washington, D.C., attic by Mike Conner, a local antique dealer. The photographs
were large format landscapes (14 x 11) taken on the Upper Mississippi River
between St. Paul and St. Louis. The album's frontispiece reads: "Views on the
Mississippi River, from negatives taken and printed under the direction of Major
A. Mackenzie, Corps of Engineers, U.S.A. by H. Bosse, Draughtsman, 1883-1891."
The album held 169 cyanotype prints, most of them oval in shape. They were
extremely sharp and clear, indicating that Bosse was a skilled photographer,
taking advantage of lighting conditions early in the day or late in the
afternoon. Most of them were picturesque landscapes of the river, many taken
Trying to learn more about his discovery, Connor called John
Anfinson, an historian with the Army Corps of Engineers' St. Paul District to
see if he knew of the photographs. Anfinson told him the Corps only had black
and white copies identified as Bosse's work. After talking to Conner, Anfinson
re-examined the black and whites, which are low contrast, very grainy and
lacking in detail. Among these images was a black and white photograph of the
cover of an album which read "Presented to U.S. Dredge William A. Thompson by
Mrs. William A. Thompson." Anfinson learned that Thompson worked for the Corps
from 1878 to 1894, spending all his years on the Upper Mississippi River, and a
boat was named after him in 1937 (Anfinson, 1992-93: 4-5).
The Dredge Thompson remains a working boat on the Mississippi,
so Anfinson called a crew supervisor and asked him if he had ever seen any
photographs of the river on board the Thompson. To Anfinson's surprise, the
supervisor reported that such a volume of photographs had been on the dredge,
and that the district photographer had made black and white copies of them a few
years earlier. Thus, the black and whites Anfinson possessed were actually crude
copies of the originals, which were still on the dredge.
Meanwhile, when Conner began showing his photographs to
experts, he received offers for the whole album for $20,000. He eventually sold
the photographs for $66,000 at Sotheby's Auction House in New York City. The
photographic dealer who bought them, Charles Wehrenberg of San Francisco, has
subsequently sold some images for us much as $25,000, and he values the
collection at between $650,000 and $1 million.
Through the sleuthing of Anfinson, the Army Corps of Engineers
found itself in possession of a valuable collection of photographs. The
"artifacts" are now stored in a bank vault in St. Paul and insured for $1
million. Since the discovery of the first set, three more partial sets of
Bosse's photographs have been foundDone in the archives of a Mississippi River
museum in Dubuque, Iowa; another in the possession of the Rock Island Office of
the Corps; and a third at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. And, as we have
been researching this paper, we have discovered that other district offices of
the Army Corps of Engineers have caches of cyanotype photographs by various 19th
century photographers buried in their archives.
Historical Documents and Art Images
The photographs of Henry P. Bosse are interesting documents in
the history of visual communication. Their recent rediscovery and immediate high
valuation in the world art markets sheds light on the genre of western survey
photography, the relationship of survey photography to the genre of landscape
painting in fine art, and the social history of middle America in the 19th
century. The discovery raises questions about how and why some photographs of
America became widely known and distributed, while Bosse's fell into obscurity,
despite being exhibited at places like the Columbian Exposition of 1893 and the
Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1903.
From a journalistic perspective, much writing about survey
photographs taken after the Civil War lacks serious engagement with its
institutional history. This paper attempts to redress that problem by exploring
the new material provided by the discovery of Bosse's photographs. We will do so
by placing Bosse's photographs within the context of his employment by the U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers. In this regard, another interesting fact arises. No
systematic, post-Civil War history of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been
written. This is surprising, given the impact of its road, bridge, levee and dam
construction, which have had an important impact on the development of the
United States. Fortunately, the St. Paul district, which stretches to Rock
Island, Ill., does have its own history, Creativity, Conflict and Controversy,
by Raymond H. Merritt.
Bosse's lost photographs also provide an interesting
counterpoint with the well-known images of survey photographers C. E. Watkins,
Andrew J. Russell, Eadwaerd Muybridge, William Henry Jackson and Timothy
O'Sullivan. The similarities and differences between their photographs and
Bosse's and the contexts in which they were created, promoted and viewed can
help us to sharpen our understanding of western survey photography and the
landscape aesthetic. At the same time, Bosse's photographs are a record of the
development and expansion of American territory, technology and culture.
Some of the most interesting photographs in the history of
American photography were taken in the western United States after the Civil
War. Well-known photographers such Watkins, Russell, Muybridge, Jackson,
O'Sullivan and others made beautiful large format and stereographic photographs
of spectacular and exotic landscapes of the American West. Many of the
photographs were taken as part of private photographic businesses and sold
privately, but most were sponsored by the government as part of a larger effort
to explore, survey and publicize the West and to study its geography and geology
for managerial, territorial, economic and scientific reasons. Thousands of
government survey photographs were sold singlely, in stereocards, or in sets.
There are differences of interpretation among scholarly
discussions of survey photography. While most of these documentary photographs
were taken as the result of government patronage, their standing in historical
writing rests primarily on their artistic qualities. Photographs like Bosse's
are often ignored until they are given value as art. Within the context of
visual communication and journalism history, this is problematic; presumably we
are as much concerned with the subject of the photographs as their aesthetic
qualities. That is neither to say that documentary photographs should not be
discussed or treated as art, or even that art historians have not provided some
historical context for survey photography. On the contrary, The Picture History
of Photography by Peter Pollack traces the history of many of the most important
survey photographers and discusses their aesthetic qualities, as does Weston J.
Naef's Era of Exploration: The Rise of Landscape Photography in the American
West, 1860-1885. Naef's book is a study of the development of the genre of
landscape photography. He also provides background, but his focus and his
strongest analysis is of the developing visual aesthetics of the photographs.
His historical depth is best when he documents the interplay of art worlds, such
as painter/photographer interactions, photography and its relation to romantic
and pictorial painting, the marketing of photographs, or even competition
While the chronologies in these works are sound, the historical
contexts provided by them are superficial, because larger historical contexts
are outside their scope. Pollack's book and others like Beaumont Newhall's The
History of Photography from 1839 to the Present and Naomi Rosenblum's A World
History of Photography are descriptions of the field of photography; due to the
breadth of such works, no historical period was treated in depth by the authors.
Still, in these general histories and art histories, attention focuses
predominantly on the artist and the form of images rather than on a detailed
accounting of the activities and social setting in which the imagemaking
The kind of historical context for photographs that
journalists, journalism educators and students should find more interesting is
supplied by William Stott's Documentary Expression and Thirties America, Alan
Trachtenberg's Reading American Photographs: Images as History, Mathew Brady to
Walker Evans and Maren Stange's Symbols of Ideal Life: Social Documentary
Photography in America, 1890-1950. These books either use photographs to help
describe larger socio-cultural events, or they use these events to illuminate
photographs. In these works photographs become part of a narrative about wider
historical events and socio-cultural processes. Such narratives encourage those
concerned with journalism not only to engage the history of their profession but
to engage their profession in history.
Watkins, Russell, Muybridge, Jackson, O'Sullivan and others
created thousands of images of the American West for the U.S. Secretary of War,
beginning immediately after the Civil War. National development supporting the
North's war effort, e.g., communication, roadway, railroad, and factory systems,
provided the basic infrastructure for the rapid expansion of post-war
capitalism. After the war, looking to the future, the Secretary commissioned
four major surveys to map and learn about the geology and terrain west of the
These surveys were not, of course, the first; British, French,
Spanish and eventually American explorers had traveled up and the Mississippi,
Missouri Rivers and Colorado Rivers in the early part of the 19th century,
before the invention of photography in 1839. In 1805, Lt. Zebulon Pike was the
first government official to travel from St. Louis up the Mississippi to seek
its source. Pike also purchased the land (for 20 per acre) that became the site
for Fort Snelling, which still stands on the southern border of Minneapolis. By
the late 19th century, the Minneapolis-St. Paul area became the center of
economic and cultural activities in the upper Midwest. The Corps and the work
Bosse engaged played a formative role in this development.
Early Surveys and Photography
Survey photographs in the United States grew from both the art
and documentary traditions. With President Thomas Jefferson's Louisiana Purchase
of 1803 and the Lewis and Clark expedition's published report, interest in the
western U.S. grew rapidly. Many expeditions, both public and private, followed.
Written descriptions of the wonders and grandeurs of the region taxed the
credulity of readers. To address it, Major Stephen H. Long of the U.S.
Topographical Bureau (a Corps forerunner) was among the first to include an
artist on a western expedition. Long went to the Rockies from 1819 to 1820 and
took Samuel Seymour, a painter. Seymour attempted 150 landscapes and finished 60
(Ostroff, 1981: 8). By the 1850s, artists (painters and illustrators) were an
accepted part of any expedition, including government-sponsored trips. Still,
there was criticism of the artwork as unbelievable D the images of geysers and
amazing rock formations were beyond people's imaginations.
Landscape photography developed shortly after the invention of
the daguerreotype in 1839. Because exposure times for early daguerreotypes were
so long, the stillness of landscape made it a practical subject. John Wood
(1995) also argues that the daguerreotype aesthetic fit quite nicely with the
romantic aesthetic, which was steeped in a picturesque view of the world but
also in the ideals of science, experimental observation and understanding
We needn't go into great lengths about about early survey
photography, but Appendix One will help readers remember some of the important
photographers, their subjects and the dates of their works. Unfortunately, the
largest and most comprehensive views of the American West by Robert N. Vance, S.
N. Carvalho, and J. Wesley Jones were lost or destroyed. But the fact that
Carvalho and Jones risked lives trying to make daguerreotypes of the west
indicates that, like the surveys conducted early in the 19th century, survey
photography was a romantic journey whose purpose was to catch a glimpse, make a
record, and create a sense of the place called "the West." Even the pre-war
photos of Yosemite in large format collodian process by Watkins seem more for
showing the Yosemite region than explaining it.
Isaac Stevens' survey, which left St. Paul in the spring of
1853 looking for a northern route for a Pacific railroad, was on a different
scale and for a more instrumental purpose. Stevens, the Governor of the
Washington Territory and a former Lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers, reported
that the northern route was a good possibility because it had "vast resources of
land, for agricultural development, timber, water and minerals" (Merritt, 1979:
31). Merritt notes that Stevens' party included "two civilian engineers, a
professional artist, a geologist, a surgeon-naturalist and two noted scientists,
Dr. George Gibbs and Dr. Thomas Cooper" (Merritt, 1979: 31). We know that
daguerreotypist J.M. Stanley accompanied this trip but whether he was the
professional artist mentioned by Merritt is unclear. This survey and the ones to
follow after the Civil War indicate not only an intent to see, learn and report,
but an intent to plan and build. Advances in science and engineering and an
expansionist mindset in the era indicate that surveys imply the instrumentality
of taking, controlling and building up the West. Post-war images of the West
continued to awe the public but now they began to mark the expansion of the the
eastern infrastructure westward to exploit vast potential resources of the
Midwest for agriculture, the Upper Mississippi Valley for timber and minerals
and the West for heavy mining. Through a series of related developments in
timber, mining, farming and transportation, western photographs show the
progress of American expansionism. We outline some of the most important
instances of survey photography in Appendix Two.
During this same time, America was searching for a cultural
identity. While American painting tended to be constrained by the European
traditions of portrait, historical and landscape painting, photographs by
Watkins and Muybridge won awards for innovative composition and technical
expertise in European photographic shows. Thus, while survey photography was
documentary and concerned with expansionism, photographers were clearly
concerned with their photographs' aesthetic qualities. Well-known landscape
artists such as Albert Bierstadt, S.R. Gifford and Thomas Moran accompanied
surveys on which Muybridge, O'Sullivan, W.H. Jackson worked as photographers.
And the photographers learned about art from their interaction with painters
(Naef, 1975: 63, 174, 222).
The following are some characteristics of romanticism and
pictorialism that characterize painting and photography of this period:
yHeavy sense of drama, clouded skies. High contrast in light,
yUse foreground, middleground and background in composition.
Foreground has a defining object like a tree or rock. Middle ground contains
river or lines moving toward the horizon.
yOverall smooth transition toward the horizon. Distance may
contain mountains, clouds.
yInteresting atmospheric effects, especially dramatic treatment
yIntegrated panoramas over details.
yPosing figures in landscape to indicate scale and create a
(Naef, 1975: 63-5).
It would be a mistake, however, to separate the aesthetic from
the documentary. If it is recognized that documentary photography is generally
made from a particular point of view that attempts to persuade as well as
inform, the aesthetic feelings of beauty and awe elicited by exploration
photography can be said to further its persuasive intent. For example,
exploration photographs were often included with legislative lobbying materials.
Jackson's photographs were bound in leather and sent to members of Congress in
1872 as part of the campaign which made Yellowstone a national park (Naef, 1975:
78). Many photographers also sold their photographic views on the open market,
linking their aesthetics properties to marketability and profit. Stereographic
photography was invented in 1857 and quickly became extremely popular. According
to Naef, "By 1875 viewing landscape photographs had become a national pastime,
and the heroic publishing ventures of the sixties and seventies were weakened by
the proliferation of work by less talented photographers. The stereograph rose
to phenomenal popularity, providing a market for the work of countless
photographers." (p. 73). Other scholars have discussed evidence of the debates
between proponents of catastrophism and Darwinism as underlying motivations and
influences on the subjects, framing and aesthetics of landscape photography
(Naef, 1975 and Trachtenberg, 1990).
Naef defines the period between 1880 and 1885 as the period of
decline of "the first golden age of American landscape photography." In was in
this period that the public's interest in landscape began to give way to more
exotic social subjects. Stereographic card subjects from the period expanded to
cityscapes, famous landmark achievements, including bridges, roads and
buildings, political figures, close-ups of plants and animals, comic series and
ethnological subjects such as foreign ways of life, ethnic costumes and customs,
religions of the world, modes of work and transportation.
Bosse's first known photographs (all of his pictures were
landscapes) were taken in 1883. Naef marked 1885 as date of the decline of the
landscape period. Bosse's Views of the Mississippi images (and the fact of their
disappearance) may shed new light on these documentary, cultural and aesthetic
discourses. There are many similarities between Bosse's work and the canon of
well-known survey-exploration photography, but there are also important
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the River
By the early 19th century, there was already a great deal of
trading going on around Lake Superior. The U.S. affirmed its control over the
territories that became Wisconsin, Minnesota and the Upper Mississippi Valley in
the Treaty of Ghent in 1814. By 1828, five forts were established in the Upper
Mississippi Valley region: Fort Snelling, Fort Winnebago at the Fox-Wisconsin
River portage, Fort Crawford at the mouth of the Wisconsin River at Prairie du
Chien, Wis., Fort Armstrong at Davenport, Iowa, at the confluence of the Rock
and Mississippi Rivers, and Fort Howard at Green Bay, Wis. Working for the Corps
in 1834, young Lt. Robert E. Lee mapped the upper Mississippi River. More
detailed maps of the upper Mississippi were drawn again in the late 1840s and
early 1850s by Joseph Nicollet. Corps historian Raymond Merritt turned to
another historian, Francis Paul Prucha, to assess the importance of the Corps to
the development of the United States during this period.
Francis Paul Prucha, who has carefully
studied the role of the military in the development of the
Northwest between 1815 and 1860, has written that "the
contribution that United States troops made to the development
the frontier was possible only because they constituted, above
everything else, directed manpower. They were a labor force
unequaled in compactness and unity of purpose by any group of
frontiersmen." Prucha explains that the role of the United
army was less important in military combat than it was in the
urbanization of the region. The army surveyed rivers and lakes,
made maps, improved navigation, built dams, roads and bridges,
provided a regular mail service, negotiated with the Indians
land, established centers for the distribution of goods,
medical service, protected government agencies, regulated
and trappers, assisted law officers, established legal claims,
constructed fortifications, gave concerts, promoted education
religion, established the first libraries in the region, built
grain and lumber mills and occasionally engaged in a limited
with the Indians. Federal appropriations of money to the army
subsidized the urbanization of the Upper Mississippi River
(Merritt, 1979: 27-8)
Settlement was rapid. Statehood was granted to Illinois in
1818, Missouri in 1821, Iowa in 1846, Wisconsin in 1848 and Minnesota in 1858.
In 1849, when Minnesota became a territory, its population was 5,000; nine years
later Minnesota was a state with a population of 150,000. The corps facilitated
In 1823, the first steamship made its way up the Mississippi
River to the Twin Cities. According to Merritt, the government encouraged
steamboating by contracting with ship owners to move troops, mail and military
supplies. Regular steamboat service to St. Paul began in 1847, and ships were
working above St. Anthony Falls in 1849 and on the Minnesota River starting in
From 1847 to 1857, the Corps built important roads in
Minnesota, linking the surrounding region to St. Paul and the Mississippi. The
railroads followed. The first bridge across the Mississippi was in 1855 in St.
Paul. Soon wagon bridges and railroad bridges were built up and down the
Mississippi, and it became the Corps' responsibility to regulate them as they
became major obstructions to river traffic (Shallat, 1994).
One of the key areas on the upper river was known as St.
Anthony Falls (now part of Minneapolis). The Falls are a natural barrier on the
river, and they were the reason that most of the early river-related
developments occurred downstream from the Twin Cities. In the 1820s, the Army
and the Sioux Indians jointly controlled the Falls. The army built a grain mill
and a sawmill there, powered by the fast-moving water. Businesses were
prohibited from using the water around the falls for power until 1847, when
Franklin Steele started cutting timber (Merritt, 1979).
Henry Peter Bosse was born on November 13, 1844, in Magdeburg,
Prussia, on the estate of his grandfather, General Neithardt von Gneisenau, the
hero of the Prussian defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo. Bosse was the
son of the general's daughter, Julia, and Count Neithardt Bosse (Thompson,
1993). The child's early years were spent on the estate, studying Greek and
Latin under a series of tutors. The young Bosse completed classical studies at
Magdeburg, the provincial capital, and added courses in engineering and art,
both of which influenced his photographs. He left Glasgow, Scotland, for
Montreal, Canada in 1865 at a time of heavy German emigration. He probably
entered the U.S. in New York state. Bosse next appears in the 1870 census as a
resident of Chicago working as a partner in a book store and stationery shop
with another German. He was put out of business by the great Chicago fire of
October 1871. In 1874, Bosse was appointed a draftsman for the Corps of
Engineers by a New York state congressman. He worked in St. Paul from 1875 until
1878, when he was transfered to the Corps' Rock Island, Ill., headquarters,
where he was employed as chief draftsman until his death of a heart attack while
preparing to undergo emergency surgery in 1903 at age 59 (Neuzil, 1996a).
Altering the Mississippi River
Bosse's photographs grew out of his assignment as a draftsman
for the Corps. To understand his photographs it is necessary to see them in the
context of the Corps' relationship to industrial development in the Upper
Mississippi River Valley after the Civil War.
After the war, there was increased settlement in the Upper
Midwest surrounding Minneapolis and St. Paul. The timber and milling industries
fueled a growing economy throughout the 19th century. Railroads, for which
surveys had been done before the war, were completed. Fortunes like those of the
railroad baron James J. Hill and Gold Medal Flour's William Washburn were made
and spent in the Twin Cities.
One of the major navigational (and thus industrial) problems
was low water. Low water meant a loss of power for sawmills and milling at St.
Anthony Falls in Minneapolis. The growing timber industry needed a constant flow
of water to float logs from the northern white pine forests downstream to the
sawmills. During low water periods, some rivers dried to a trickle, and it was
impossible to float logs. To investigate the low water problem, in 1869 Washburn
sent his company engineer, Franklin Cook, to look for possible dam sites up
stream from Minneapolis. Major G. K. Warren, the St. Paul District engineer who
made surveys of major tributaries of the Upper Mississippi Valley river system
two years earlier, in 1970 contemplated the construction of 41 reservoirs on the
St. Croix, Chippewa, Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers to store and release water
during dry spells. Congress balked because it did not want to use government
funds for such direct support of particular commercial interests. Washburn was
elected to Congress in 1878, where he led the fight for a reservoir system.
Major Charles Allen, the new district engineer, was asked to make a report on
the effect of a reservoir system on navigation, and plans were developed to
create a permanent channel of navigable water on the Mississippi south of St.
Paul. (Merritt, 1979: 67-76).
In 1878, Congress authorized a channelization project on the
Mississippi River, which required the Corps to dig and maintain a 4 1/2-foot
channel (measured at low-water) from St. Paul to the mouth of the Illinois River
at Grafton, Ill. Mississippi River dams near its headwaters were eventually
begun on Winnibigoshish Lake in 1881, at Pokegama Falls and Leech Lake in 1883
and three other sites. The headwater dams, Washburn argued, were needed to
maintain the water level in the channel and water was released at low flow.
Bosse was called to Rock Island and instructed to map the river in preparation
for the channel project. He spent nearly two years surveying and drawing with
the Corps, sounding the river, measuring elevation, calculating flow and
drainage. He and his assistant, A.J. Stibolt, completed a 27-page map of the
upper river in 1879, although the map was not published until 1887-88. The work
made Bosse intimately familiar with the river (Neuzil, 1996a).
Once the river was mapped, the 4 1/2 foot channel was
constructed by dredging and building wingdams and closing dams. The goal was to
change the natural course of the river. Countless streams and rivers dump into
the Mississippi, and the floodplain contains thousands of acres of backwaters.
In some places, there were multiple channels. The purpose of the wing and
closing dams was to close off backwaters and alternative channels, creating one
deeper, more narrow channel for shipping. Where the river became wide and
shallow, wingdams D piles of willow mats and limestone rock that jut into the
river perpendicular to the shore D were built to force the water into a main
channel. The effect was permanent, as the river eroded the shore and deposited
silt behind the dams. The Corps succeeded in constricting the river, moving its
banks together (Anfinson, 1992-93). Ironically, river traffic declined even as
the Corps continued the project; steamboats were overtaken by railroads in the
1880s, leaving timber rafting the only significant traffic on the river by the
The authors of the paper first examined three sets of work
prints the Corps recently made for everyday handling. (The Corps is now using
the photos in its publications.) After studying the work prints, the authors
viewed the original photos in the bank vault where they are stored.
It is easy to be moved by arguments for Bosse's photographs as
art. Overall, the photographs are pleasant, even exciting to look at. They
probably fit best into the pictorial genre but they are not dramatic enough to
qualify as fully developed romanticism. The photos are arranged from north to
south, from St. Anthony Falls to Louisiana, Mo. The title of the album D Views
on the Mississippi D suggests pictorialism and the act of enjoying and making
leisurely views of the river. Here are some observations about the art of
y A wet-plate collodion process was used. Only eight glass
plate negatives survive. Correspondence indicates that some plates were
destroyed in shipment to Chicago for the Columbian Exposition (Neuzil, 1996a).
yThe photos are cyanotypes (blueprints) printed on blueprint
paper. The set from the Dredge Thompson is printed on better D heavier and less
acidic D paper than the Rock Island set, which is beginning to degrade. (The
sets in San Francisco and Dubuque will be examined before AEJMC.)
yWhile the tonal range of the cyanotype is not as great as in
black and white photographs, the color of many of the prints is a blue-black.
Few are cyan in the sense of the light blue process color used in printing
today. In the dark areas of the photos their color is quite deep and rich, like
blue-black India ink.
yThe large format pictures are extremely sharp and detailed,
indicating that Bosse took great care in making exposures in good light and on
still days. In some instances, reflections of sunlight on the windows of houses
and boats indicate that the photos were taken fairly early in the morning,
before the sun was high in the sky. The clarity of the photographs is no doubt
because Bosse was using a fixed focus lens and making contact prints. The
originals have lines so delicate and razor sharp that they look like engravings
printed in blue.
yMany of pictures have great depth of field. Aperture settings
must have been small. A horse and carriage are substantially blurred in one
picture, indicating that the vehicle moved 1.5 to 2 feet during exposure.
yThe photographs are carefully composed. Horizon lines are
straight and usually fall high in the prints, keeping with the principle that
the unequal division of space creates more dynamic pictures. The subjects are
seldom photographed straight-on. Instead of positioning the camera directly
adjacent to the objects on the river, Bosse moved up or downstream to shoot the
subject from an oblique perspective. Thus, whether shooting from the bank of the
river or from a bluff, Bosse created dynamic images in oblique and aerial (two-
and three-) point perspective.
ySome of the photographs have more classical compositions, in
which the viewer looks off the side of a bluff to the subjects in the middle and
background. However, many of the photos have more romantic and picturesque
compositions, which include foreground in the composition as well. Often, as the
case in European landscape, Bosse posed someone (possibly himself or his
assistant) in the foreground. Sometimes these observers point to the river or to
objects in the river that the Corps was working on. Other times the observers
stand or sit or lie back gazing at the river, and occasionally they sit in boats
or even reach into the water. The arrangement of the river often carries the eye
from the foreground to the middleground, then to the background.
yMany of the photographs are taken from vantage points on
bluffs. This makes the views into dramatic landscapes. The birds-eye perspective
empowers viewers because they are looking down at the river.
yHowever, the river holds its own visually because of its sheer
size and through the objective view, which displays how it powers through the
terrain. Since the river is usually the subject of the photos, it is nearly
always arranged obliquely. Thus, it is diagonal and usually recedes from bottom
left to top right or bottom right to top left.
yThe album is distinctly Victorian in design: the pictures are
oval and framed with decorative borders, some geometric and others stippled; the
calligraphy on the cover is large and its baseline is curvelinear; the largest
letters for the title are outline letters with illustrated interiors; the title
page uses an interesting mixture of clean modern letterforms (like Bodoni type)
in both script , Roman and italic styles and a very clean sans serif type; each
photograph is clearly and precisely hand-titled and dated in black ink
(baselines in light pencil are visible on some prints).
yClouds have been painted in some photographs to make the skies
more interesting, and horizon lines are added to complete a horizontal plane.
The painting is done on the prints in a carefully matched blue wash, possibly in
an ink made of the same substance as the ferrous cyanotypes.
Analysis of the Content of Bosse's Photographs
While Bosse's photographs are interesting from an artistic
viewpoint, they also document the river during the period the Corps was working
on the 4 1/2 foot channel project. So what do Bosse's photographs tell us about
this work and the river? We don't know much about Bosse's specific circumstance,
but we can begin to piece together a picture of what he was doing by examining
changes the Corps made in the river and the how those changes influenced life
and work on the river.
The cover of Bosse's album says its photographs were taken
between 1883 and 1891, but the dates written on each cyanotype indicate that
they were taken only during six years: 1883, 1885, 1888, 1889, 1890 and 1891.
The 1885, 1889 and 1891 photographs were from complete trips up and down the
Mississippi from the St. Anthony Falls in Minneapolis to Louisiana, Mo.,
(approximately 100 river miles above St. Louis). Apparently no photographs were
taken in 1884, 1886 or 1887. Only two photographs were taken in 1883; one each
in Fountain City, Wis., and Fort Madison, Iowa. Seven photos were taken in 1890.
Given their small number, the 1890 photographs appear to be a continuation of
either the 1889 or 1891 photo projects. The eight photos taken in 1888
documented the flooding of Davenport, Iowa. According to Corps archives, the
Corps requested an extra $100 for photographs in October 1889 (Entry No. 1661).
This fact is important because it indicates that the Rock Island District had
plans and budgets to photograph in specific years and not in others.
The organization of Views on the Mississippi is quite important
to interpreting Bosse's work. While it is organized in a north to south
presentation, it is not chronological. Instead, the photographs are grouped by
location, so views taken two, four and six years apart are put together.
Twenty-five photographic clusters of from two to six photographs allow us to
become witnesses, with Bosse, of changes that were occurring in the cultural,
economic and ecological history of the river. Appendix Three shows the results
of the examination of these clusters of photographs.
The photos that appear to be landscape river scenes actually
document the building and impact of the wingdams and closing dams. The clusters
of photographs across a number of years show how the dramatic effects the dams
had on the river. The photographs in 1889 and 1891 were purposefully taken
during low water, so the dams and other changes could easily be seen. That these
photographs are before and after images was confirmed by examining Corps records
in which maps, presumably drawn by Bosse and his assistant, documented the
changes. In other words, Bosse documented the changes in the river with before
and after photographs and before and after maps. It is very possible that Bosse
used the photographs to help him prepare maps, as photographs were often taken
as aids to drawing in the 19th century.
The use of photographs to document the building of wingdams is
also interesting. There are only three such photographs but they show the fairly
complex and ingenious process. Small willow saplings were cut and formed into
mats called fascines. The fascines were floated on the river and held in place.
Limestone was pilled onto the floating fascines. Workers then lowered the
rock-covered fascines into place in the water, one layer after another. The
photos clearly show that the Corps built up the dams by putting layer after
layer of rock-filled fascines in the river.
A series of photographs of boats show the working steamships of
the Mississippi during this period. They are beautifully composed and detailed.
However, they also document snag boats cutting and pulling debris from the river
and huge rafts of lumber being pushed downstream. Likewise, there is a whole
series of photographs of railroad, pontoon and wagon bridges that are
interesting visually. They too had an instrumental purpose, since the Corps
regulated bridge building and bridges were major obstructions to navigation. The
Corps also had people stationed at some bridges to report annually the number of
steamboats, barges and raftboats passing at Hastings, Winona, La Crosse, Rock
Island, Quincy and Hannibal (Merritt, 1979: 163).
Small details within some photos standout, such as the Corps'
cultivation of willow trees for the fascines and the silting in of the dams. For
the most part, Bosse's photographs document the success of the Corps' attempt to
change the natural course of the river. This attempt would continue throughout
the 20th century with the construction of more locks and dams and the deepening
of the channel from 4 1/2 feet to 6-foot and then 9-foot channels. One other
detail stands out in a few photographs D that may or may not have been
intentional D and that was pollution.
Industrializing the River and Natural America
Often in visual communication and history, we find that what is
left out of an account is as interesting as what is included. Omissions can be
due to blindspots in an individual or a group's thinking, they may be due to
ideologies both conscious and unconscious, they may be accidental or they may be
due to self or institutional censorship.
Bosse's photographs show how the Corps changed the river, and
how the river was being used by its primary industry, logging. To think of them
as art only misses the point of their creation: their functional use by the
Corps as a record of the effect of its work. Still other meanings may be
overlooked if the photographs are only viewed as documents in the history of the
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Putting the photographs into a chronology of the
Corps helps increase our understanding, but it may still not tell us the whole
story. The overall beauty of Bosse's compositions and our knowledge of them as
Corps documents may even encourage viewers to overlook evidence in them of
ecological disasters. The Corps' work changed the flow of North America's
largest river system forever, promoted the industrialization of the Upper
Mississippi River Valley, and helped create and protect urban areas along the
On shorelines and sandbars and around some bridges, we noticed
signs of pollution that commercial use of the river left behind D primarily
garbage around boat landings and residue from milling operations collected on
the banks. While this pollution is only hinted at in the photographs, we looked
for evidence to understand its meaning. By the 1880s, far and away the largest
user of the river was the timber industry (Kane, 1966). A navigable Mississippi
River allowed the cutting of timber up and down the Mississippi River Valley.
Logs were then shipped and cut at various spots downstream.
The first victims of the Corps' work are invisible in Bosse's
photographs. These are the Native Americans who were driven by white settlers
away from the Mississippi River's banks. The building of dams on the
Mississippi's headwaters continued to disrupt tribal life. The dams were built
over the protests of the Chippewa Indians who lived on reservations around the
lakes. The dam and reservoir on Leech Lake flooded the area where Indians'
picked wild rice, which was a staple for their diet and essential part of their
religion and culture. The Chippewa knew what was going to happen to their land
if the dams were built. They protested and asked for $500,000 per year
compensation. They were given a lump sum of $150,000, and the area was flooded
over their continued objections (Merritt, 1984: 9).
The history of refuse dumped into the Mississippi River is as
old as the earliest human settlements in the area. By the time of intense white
settlement in the 19th century, the poor condition of the water was noticeable
enough for public comment. The former riverboat pilot Mark Twain, who revisited
the area in 1874 for his book Life on the Mississippi, took note of engineers'
reports that claimed the river emptied 406 million tons of mud into the Gulf of
Mexico each year. The mud "...brings to mind Captain Marryat's rude name for the
MississippiD'the Great Sewer'" (Twain, 1917: 2). Marryat penned his observations
in 1837, many decades before the river was considered polluted. And, of course,
the captain was describing a river full of silt, a perfectly natural material
for any river to carry, human habitat or not. But his nickname for the river was
accurate. By the time of Twain's visit nearly 40 years later, the waste of
factories, sawmills, tanneries, stockyards, breweries and several cities flowed
directly into the river, making it the world's largest open sewer.
Sewage disposal was largely a private matter until the 1880s,
when public sewers were built at a relatively rapid rate. Waste, including
industrial spoil and residential garbage, was dumped into the rivers of the
Midwest to take it away from urban areasDout of sight, out of mind. As Philip
Scarpino said, this transformed local waste problems into regional water
pollution problems (Scarpino, 1985). In the twin cities of Minneapolis and St.
Paul, sewer systems were built in the 1880s to carry the community's waste (over
1,000 tons per day) into the river, where it became a problem for Hastings, Red
Wing, Lake City, Wabasha and Winona, all towns photographed by Bosse.
Perhaps the biggest water pollution problem in the last half of
the 19th century was refuse from sawmills. The urbanization of the Midwest
following the Civil War created a great demand for high quality lumber, and the
ideal tree for urban construction was the white pine. Plentiful in the northern
forests of Wisconsin and Minnesota, white pine was lightweight yet strong, grew
straight and, most important for getting to market, buoyant. By 1880, one
estimate placed the number of sawmills on the Upper Mississippi River and her
tributaries at 275. Together they processed for shipping downstream two billion
board feet (Merritt, 1984). The primary byproduct of millions of board feet of
cut lumber was sawdust, most of which was dumped into the Mississippi and her
tributaries. In Minneapolis, home to the greatest concentration of sawmills, the
Corps of Engineers estimated 1.5 million board feet of sawdust was produced in
1880 (Merritt, 1984). Much of it traveled only as far as St. Paul, where it
found a home on a spit or a sandbar and settled.
Beginning in 1877, the sawdust problem in the river had become
important enough for the Corps to study it. The reports of Captain Alexander
Mackenzie, officer in charge, from the decade of the 1880s reveal a man
increasingly concerned about the problem. For example, in its 1881 annual
report, the Corps noted that the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce had written a
letter to the Secretary of War relating to the deposits of sawdust in the river.
The matter had been referred back to Mackenzie, who said he had no money to
investigate the complaint other than during the normal work of river
As based on general information and records
of the office, I can say that at all points where improvements
been made above Lake Pepin, it is shown that many of the bars
largely composed of sawdust. It has been found in bars as far
as Winona. That the promiscuous depositing of sawdust in the
is a public evil, and liable to injure navigation, has been
acknowledged by all, who, from their connection with the river
improvements, have had occasion to practically investigate the
subject." (Annual Report, 1881)
Mackenzie went on to suggest that Congress or the states pass
legislation to deal with the problem. No action was taken, and by his 1882
report, Mackenzie repeated his claim of a year earlier: "The deposit of sawdust
and mill refuse in the Mississippi River has continued during the past year.
Evidence is abundant that this practice is injurious to the interests of
navigation, and should be prohibited." By 1884, the deposits are evident up and
down the river. Mackenzie's men reported a large bar of mill refuse formed
during the 1883 flood near the town of Nininger, Minn., which was located 21
river miles south of St. Paul. The Major again called the sawdust a public evil,
endangering navigation, and needed to be dealt with by legislation. By 1888,
four years later, the sawdust and other refuse had become so bad that businesses
along the river were forced to move when boats could not reach the dock. A plant
on Pig's Eye Island (near South St. Paul) relocated 10 river miles downstream to
Merrimac, because a sandbar blocked its harbor (Neuzil, 1996b).
The legislation urged by Mackenzie was hindered by powerful
interests in Congress. In 1880, Rep. Mark Dunnell introduced a bill to prohibit
the dumping of sawdust or other material if it interfered with navigation, but
Washburn D a member of the influential Minneapolis flour and lumber family D sat
on the Commerce committee and blocked the bill. Dunnell's idea was supported by
various groups, including the Corps of Engineers, the St. Paul Chamber of
Commerce, the Mississippi River Commission and the Minnesota River Improvement
Convention. Steamboat pilots, although not organized, also opposed dumping. The
Corps, which had worked with Washburn to create the 4 1/2 channel and make the
river more navigable, now found itself now having difficulty controlling the
industrial interests that better navigation had empowered. Ironically, these
same interests were now undermining the navigability of the river.
By the late 1880s, the Twin Cities were dumping more than 1,000
tons of garbage into the river each day. The city of St. Paul contracted with a
local firm, The Sanitation Company, to remove all trash, garbage, street
sweepings and other refuse from the city limits. The Sanitation Company
collected the material and moved it to barges on the river, from which it dumped
the refuse into the water. The practice continued until the odor became so
pungent that a citizens' group in South St. Paul brought suit against the
company. An injunction forced The Sanitation Company to stop dumping garbage
into the river or on the banks in the South St. Paul area. The company announced
it would unload all refuse south of Pig's Eye Island, downstream from St. Paul,
but some evidence exists that midnight dumping occurred within the city limits
The River and Harbors Act of 1890 included a refuse section
could have ended the sawdust problem, but it was so poorly written that it meant
nothing and was not enforced. The act forbade dumping that would obstruct
navigation, but it was up to the government to prove "obstruction," which was
difficult to do on a river as large as the Mississippi. Not until the River and
Harbor Act of 1899 did effective legislation pass Congress, closing the
loopholes of the previous measures and empowering the Corps to arrest violators.
Although there is little evidence that the 1899 measure was used, ecological
factors soon replaced human intentions to clean the sawdust from the river. By
shortly after the turn of the century, the lumber companies had totally stripped
the northern forests of white pine. Historian William Cronon called them "newly
treeless countrysides." (1991: 203). Sawmills closed by the dozens, and the
lumbering era came to a close.
Most American survey/exploration photography was taken in
geographically isolated areas of the Rocky mountains and western deserts. These
photographs were often taken of highly dramatic scenery, like Yosemite,
Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon or the cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde. The
spectacular qualities of this geography and Mesa Verde's ancient civilization
were the basis of their aesthetic power. Some of the subjects they photographed,
even the landscapes, were unearthly. In contrast, the Upper Mississippi River
Valley did not provide scenery as spectacular as the West.
Bosse's photographs were taken after Europeans had been
settling and building along the Upper Mississippi River for a long time. Thus
Bosse's photographs were neither a new subject nor as spectacular as the views
of those generally included in the canon of western exploration photography.
However, if one looks closely, there is newness in the photographs. It is the
scientific modernism, a record of the battling, taming, controlling and
destruction of nature for human ends.
Because his photographs were taken long after development of
the Upper Mississippi River Valley had begun, Bosse could have documented
cultural subjects such as life and work on the river and in river towns as well
as the natural and engineering aspects of the river. But he left out much,
despite the fact that cultural life was a popular subject for stereographic
viewcards of the period.
Unlike Bosse, other landscape photographers were not trained
artists. One graphic illustration by Bosse accompanies U.S. House of
Representatives Documents and Maps concerning funding for dredging the
Mississippi River. And a large oil by Bosse of his boss, Major Mackenzie, is a
conventional portrait of the period. Thus, one might expect Bosse to give
aesthetic aspects of photographic production high regard. However, examination
of his photographs indicates that they are of less quality than those taken by
other Western photographers. While Bosse's photographs are certainly
interesting, and some of them are quite artistic, many of them are not
well-composed and carefully printed like well-known art photographs by Watkins,
Muybridge or O'Sullivan. Still, we must be careful here. When we look at their
photographs, we are usually looking at exceptional examples of their work, which
as been chosen by art historians. In the case of Bosse, we are examining the
entire body of his work.
Like other early photographers, Bosse used large format
cameras, but he printed his paper on stock engineering blueprint paper, which
would have have been common in his Army Corps of Engineers' office. The
resulting cyanotypes, with a somewhat limited tonal range compared to regular
black and white photography, would indicate that their aesthetic qualities were
less important than their informational value. At the same time, a comparison of
different prints of the same photograph in different collections indicates that
Bosse was concerned enough with some aesthetic aspects of some images that he
painted in clouds and horizon lines to make the photographs more interesting.
Bosse's work for the Corps, his omission of social settings,
the nature of the Upper Mississippi River Valley landscape, the decline in the
public's interest in landscape photography, and less sophisticated cyanotype
process may have helped relegate his work to obscurity for 90 years. But the
rediscovery of his pictures sheds light on the human development of the Upper
Mississippi River during a period of intense physical alteration.
Anfinson, John. (1996). "Henry Bosse: Art, History and the Upper
Mississippi River," paper presented to The Mississippi River and Her People
Conference, March 14, Memphis, Tenn.
Anfinson, John. (Winter 1992-93). "Henry Bosse's Priceless
Photographs," Ramsey County History 27:4: 4-9.
Annual Report. (1881). U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Washington,
Army Corps of Engineers. Registers and Abstracts of Letters
Received, 1881-1906. Entry No. 1661, Book 5.
Cronon, William. (1991). Nature's Metropolis. (New York: Norton).
Jeffrey, Ian. (1981). Photography: A Concise History (New York:
Jussim, Estelle and Elizabeth Lindquist-Cock. (1985). Landscape as
Photograph. (New Haven: Yale University Press).
Kane, Lucille. (1966). The Waterfall that Built a City (St. Paul:
Minnesota Historical Society).
Merritt, Raymond H. (1979). Creativity, Conflict & Controversy: A
History of the St. Paul District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. (Washington,
D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office).
Merritt, Raymond H. (1984).The Corps, the Environment, and the Upper
Mississippi River Basin (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office).
Naef, Weston J. and James N. Wood. (1975). Era of Exploration: The
Rise of Landscape Photography in the American West, 1860-1885. (Boston:
Albright-Knox Art Gallery; distributed by the New York Graphic Society).
Neuzil, Mark. (1996a). "Henry Bosse: A Career in Pictures," paper
to The Mississippi River and Her People Conference, March 14, Memphis, Tenn.
Neuzil, Mark. (1996b). "Waters of Protest: Media and Mississippi
River in Comparative History," paper presented to The Mississippi River and Her
People Conference, March 15, Memphis, Tenn.
Ostroff, Eugene. (1981). Western Views and Eastern Visions
(Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian).
Pollack, Peter. (1977). The Picture History of Photography: From the
Earliest Beginnings to the Present Day. (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc.).
Rosenblum, Naomi. (1989). A World History of Photography, rev. ed.
(New York: Abbeville Press).
Scarpino, Philip V. (1985). Great River: An Environmental History of
the Upper Mississippi River, 1890-1950 (Columbia, Mo.: University of Missouri
Shallat, Todd. (1994). Structures in the Stream: Water, Science, and
the Rise of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. (Austin: University of Texas
Stott, William. (1973). Documentary Expression and Thirties America.
(New York: Oxford University Press).
Stange, Maren. (1989). Symbols of Ideal Life: Social Documentary
Photography in America, 1890-1950. (New York: Cambridge University Press).
Taft, Robert. (1938). Photography and the American Scene: A Social
History, 1839-1889. (New York: The MacMillan Company).
Thompson, John. (1993). "Biographical Notes and Commentary on the
Work of Henry Bosse," paper prepared for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Rock
Trachtenberg, Alan. (1989). Reading American Photographs: Images as
History, Mathew Brady to Walker Evans (New York, Hill and Wang).
Twain, Mark. (1917). Life on the Mississippi (New York: Harper).
Upton, Barbara, with John Upton. (1989). Photography, 4th ed.
(Glenview, Ill.: Scott, Foresman and Co.).
Wood, John. (1995). The Scenic Daguerreotype: Romanticism and Early
Photography. (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press).
Pre-Civil War: The West's Famous Photographers
Date Landscape Photographed/ Project Photographer
Subject, Leader of Survey & Notes
1842 Northeast Boundary Survey Edward Anthony
1847 J.H. Fitzgibbons Studio. St. Louis, Mo. Hist. Soc.
Portraits but some early landscapes & N.Am.
1849-51 1500 San Francisco/Calif. scenes J. Wesley Jones
Various scenes of gold rush, Sutter, Mill (lost
Lectured using painted scroll...Pantascope
1849-50 300 California photos. Shown N.Y. in 1851 Robert .N.
1850 Lt. Lorenzo Sitgreaves Survey W.C. Mayhew
1851 Photographs of Minnehaha Falls Alexander Hessler
Galena, Ill. to Chicago
Longfellow wrote Hiawatha after seeing it
1851(?) St. Paul Photo Gallery opened J. E. Whitney
1853 Gov. Isaac Stevens of Wash. Territory J.M. Stanley
Northwest. Dakotas to Pacific
Departed St. Paul, spring, looking for north rail route
1853 Col. John C. Fremont S.N. Carvalho
Up the Missouri River (lost daguerreotypes)
Departed Westport, Mo., Sept. 1853 (Brady fire)
Incredible winter photos of Rockies, hardships
1857 Lt. Ives. Colorado River. Wet Plate Equip. destroyed
1858-9 (?) Col. F.W. Lander Albert Bierstadt
Salt Lake City to South Pass & East S.F. Frost,
& other artists
1858 (60?) Cpt. W.F. Raynolds J.D. Hutton
Yellowstone & Missouri Rivers. Wet plate
1859 J.H. Simpson. Great Basin of Utah. C.C. Mills
Few useful pictures. Trashes idea of photography
on expeditions. Favors artists.
1859 American River and Yosemite (primitive) C.L. Weed (or
Not clear if Weed or Vance took photos
1854-57 C.E. Watkins runs studio for Robert C.E. Watkins
Vance in San Jose
1857-58 Watkins opens own studio in San Francisco
1858-59 Watkins takes photos of Sequoia trees
1861 Takes 18" x 22" photos of Yosemite & stereographs
1857 C.R. Savage learns photography in N.Y. Charles Savage
1859 Savage photographs in Florence, Nebraska
1860-9 (?) Savage goes to Salt Lake City. Best known early
photog between the Mississippi and Pacific.
Note: Appendices One and Two were compiled from histories by
Rosenblum, and Taft.
Post-Civil War: The West's Famous Photographers
Date Landscape Photographed/ Project Photographer
Subject & Notes
1866 California State Geological Survey C.E. Watkins
The Yosemite Book (1868) by Josiah D. Whitney
Volunteer: Clarence King
1866 Union Pacific Railroad starts west from John Carbutt
Omaha across Neb. Omaha to the 100 Meridian,
250 miles west of Omaha. Progress + landscape
Excursion of 250 disting. citizens, band, reporters
Tourism, fake Indian attack at 4 am.
1866 Fisk: overland route to Montana gold fields W.H.
Illingworth was from St. Paul
1864 Union Pacific Eastern division
1867 Followed the towns, geology along U.P. A. Gardner
Nearly complete pictorial history of Kansas
8 x 10 & 11 x 14. Peace conference U.S. & Arapahoes &
Cheyennes at Fort Laramie, Wyoming. Some 13 x 18" in
Mo. Historical Society
1867 Yosemite scenes with manipulated Cloud scenes E.J.
Developed the sky shade to reduce light in sky
1868 General William Halleck, in Alaska, Farallones
& Vancouver Island. 1869 Studies of Clouds
1868-9 Official Union Pacific Western Division photos A.J.
Excellent compositions; drama, compositions
Russell was a Cpt. in the U.S. Military Railroad
Construction Corp during the Civil War
1869 Central Pacific Railroad A.A. Hart
Hart's photos purchased & sold by CE Watkins
1867-9 U.S. Geological Survey of the 40th Parallel
Directed by Clarence King. O'Sullivan photographed
miners in Nevada City's Great Comstock Lode.
Used burning magnesium wire to obtain suff light.
Gen. A.A. Humphreys, commander, Corp of Engineers
Cost of supplies 10% of total cost of survey
1869 A.J. Russell briefly joins King's party A.J. Russell
1870 Muybridge does more photos on C.P.Railroad E.J.
1870 C.E. Watkins briefly joins King's party C.E. Watkins
1872 At the end of 40th Parallel Survey, King was
joined by Muybridge & Albert Bierstadt.
Muybridge wins medal for large format views at
Internat. Exhib. in Vienna. O'Sullivan was entered
1870 Survey of Isthmus of Darien (Panama) T.H.
1871-74 Surveys of the Southwest. Lt. George O'Sullivan 71,
Wheeler ,iIncluding Anasazi ruins. William Bell, 1872
1871 Second Powell exhibition Col. River E.O. Beaman replaces
1872-6, 78 More Powell surveys John K. Hillers
1867-79 Hayden Surveys. Dr. F.V. Hayden. W.H. Jackson
Painter & Illustrator. Much ethnographic (hired in 1870)
study also compiled extensive catalogue
1872 Jackson's photos exhibited.
1874 Discov. & photo Mesa Verde's cliff dwellings. Jackson
Painters S.R. Gifford and Thomas Moran taught Jackson
composition, 1870 & 71. 1871 photos of Yellowstone had to
be manipulated to get steam. Evidently poor, not circulated.
Returned in 1872 to produce the photos that were published
and bound for members of Congress.
Note: Appendices One and Two were compiled from histories by
Rosenblum, and Taft.
Grouped Shots from Multiple Years
(#s from title page and photographs, place and years)
14-15 South of St. Paul 1885 & 1891
These two photos are typical picturesque views from a bluff
overlooking the River on the south edge of the city of St. Paul. However, there
is a lot of information that is relevant to the Corps work. The site of photo 14
is a quarry. The 1891 photo shows the from the quarry shoring up the opposite
river bank. Fifteen also shows new willow saplings growing on a sandbar, which
may have been cultivated for use in building the wingdams.
16-20 Dayton's Bluff 1885 & 1891
Of this group, 18 &19, are an interesting comparison across
time. They show wingdams and their effect on the river six years apart. They
show how the wingdams silt in and narrow the river.
22-23b Pig's Eye Island 1885 & 1891
Shows dam construction around the island and their effect on
water flow around the island.
32-36 Bluff's at Merrimac 1885, 1889, & 1891
Two pairs of photographs, looking up (1889 & 1891) and down
(1885 & 1889) stream at wingdams. Photograph 34 appears to have clouds painted
37-40b Robinson's Rocks 1885 & 1891
This sequence has five pictures, and three of them (38, 39,
40a) are grouped shots showing wingdams and the fill behind them. Photo 37 has a
man pointing to Robinson's rocks from shore.
41-5 Bluff's at Pine Bend 1885, 1889, & 1891
Show wingdams and their effects. Photographs were taken both
from above and at the foot of the bluff, showing different perspectives on the
46-48 Quarry at Bonlanger Slough 1889, & 1891
Shots of the river but shows the quarry on the left side of the
photos. Presumably, this is a quarry where the Corps got rocks for the dams.
Photo 46 has clouds which were painted in.
49a-b Dams below Nininger-down 1889, & 1891
50a-b-51 Franklin's Coulee Bluff 1891
The first two photos appear to be the same image (a mistake in
collating the sets?). 51 looks downstream. This group appears to document the
52a-b Dams below Nininger-up 1885 & 1888
The comparison between the two different years shows lots of
siltation in just a three-year period. Good example. 52b has very dramatic
64-66 Mouth of Chippewa 1885 & 1889
Interesting silting in of the river in two shots. Also shows
all of the trees removed from a small island.
67a-b Bluffs above Reads 1885 & 1889
68 Reads' Landing 1889
Amazing photograph of siltation on shoreline
70a-b Tee-pe-o-la Point & Closed channel
Lots of logs at foot of dam and on bars. Messy logs & wood
chips on shore.
72a-b-c-74 Alma Bluffs 1885, 1889, & 1891
75a-b Alma 1885 & 1889
82-84 Bluffs at Fountain City 1885, 1889, & 1891
85-86 Fountain City 1883 & 1891
Most of these cluster were missing from the Dredge Thompson
collection so they could not be compared.
122-123 Muscatine 1885 & 1891
Only one photograph for this cluster.
135-137a-d Fort Madison 1883, 1885, 1889, & 1891
More typical before and after shots. Photo 135 is out of the
ordinary in that it photographs the State Penitentiary at Fort Madison. The
prison can be seen from the river but it is at least a block from the river.
Locks at the Des Moines River Rapids
141-155 Locks at the Des Moines River Rapids
141-148 Guard Lock 1885, 1889, & 1891
149-151 Middle Lock 1885 & 1891
152-155 Lower Lock 1889 & 1891
This a systematic set of photographs of the River at the Des
Moines River Rapids, where the river gets so wide and shallow that a canal had
to be built to pass boats down the river. The photos (144-5) of the dry dock for
working on ships ships taken in 1889 & 1891 show the dock with and without
ships. Photos 152 & 3 were a nice pair, showing the construction of a larger
building and its completion. Photo 153 appears to also show unloading between a
barge and a train.
Floods at Davenport, Iowa
116-122 Davenport Flood 1888
Shows high waters of the flood of the Mississippi River in
Davenport, Iowa. Shows roads and railroad track flooded. One picture contains a
train coming toward the camera and a blurred horse and wagon on a road next to
the train. The Rock Island District requested an extra $100 for taking these
photographs, indicating that there were specific plans and budgets to photograph
in specific years and not others. No other photographs were taken in 1888. This
set is interesting because it shows town buildings and construction.
157-175 River Boats 1885-1891
Excellent over-sized photos of snagboats, steamboats,
raftboats, dredges, boats in dock. Amazing details of ships. Some crew on board
but distance makes it difficult to see crew members clearly. People are clearly
posed, except in the snagging photo where workers are using axes to cut up trees
in the river. Photo 171 shows the wreck of the Sea Wing, an excursion boat and
barge that went down in a storm killing nearly 100 people.
Construction of Rock and Brush Dams
176-178 Dam Construction 1891
179-210 Bridges 1885-1891
Show a variety of styles of railroad, wagon and pontoon bridges
across the river. Bosse may have photographed these bridges because they were
potentially great obstructions to navigation on the river, especially because
they were places logs could collect and form jams. Some of these bridges also
must have held government census takers because data reported by Merritt (1979:
163) indicates that steamboats, barges and raftboats were being counted as they
passed bridges at Hastings, Winona, La Crosse, Rock Island, Quincy and Hannibal.