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The Railroad Photographs of Alfred A. Hart, Artist

Kibbey, Mead B./Palmquist, Peter E. (ed)

ISBN 10: 092972285X / ISBN 13: 9780929722856
Published by California State Library Foundation 1st edition, 1996
Used Hardcover
From Barbarossa Books Ltd. (IOBA) (Bainbridge Island, WA, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

238 p., frontis, photos, footnotes, appendices, maps, biblio, index, 4to oblong; VG/no dust jacket. Bookseller Inventory # 54869

Bibliographic Details

Title: The Railroad Photographs of Alfred A. Hart, ...

Publisher: California State Library Foundation 1st edition

Publication Date: 1996

Binding: Hardcover

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title


Alfred A. Hart documented the construction of the Central Pacific Railroad during the years 1864-1869. Although the book contains a great deal about railroading, the book focuses on the events and circumstances of railroading that are often over-looked or only briefly discussed. Among these are the vicissitudes of tunneling--with both nitroglycerin and black-powder techniques--in the brutally dense granite of the rugged California mountains, the question of how the workers were able to keep tunnels on a perfectly straight course while working from both sides of a mountain. Moreover, the book is an excellent primer on the general practices and problems attendant to wet-plate photography. Especially interesting is Mead's discourse on the ins-and-outs of commercial stereography in the American West during the 1860s. Mead has successfully collected nearly every known photograph ever taken by Hart of the Central Pacific Railroad. Moreover, he has made a special point to visit most of the sites photographed by Hart, and has placed his own tripod in the precise same spot as Hart's, some one hundred thirty years later. In order to understand Hart's stereography, Mead experimented with actual stereoscopic negatives with a camera dating from Hart's era and came to understand the "how-to" of different focal length lenses in field photography and the difficulty of adjusting an 1860s-style tripod to the rough mountain terrain and jumbles of broken granite. Mead has meticulously traced each step of stereograph production, ranging from optical spacing of the prints to labeling the finished card even manufacturing his own salted paper. Mead has been particularly conscientious in his attempt to date each photograph and to provide insight into why they were taken. With seven appendices (including a catalogue raisonne of every known Hart CPRR stereograph). Anyone who has ever wondered about the 364 Hart stereographs will find this book an indispensable reference.

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