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Across the Continent The Union Pacific Photos of Andrew Joseph Russell
Daniel Davis
U. of Utah Press
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Date Listed:
2019-08-10 00:00:00
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Untitled Document

Across the Continent
The Union Pacific Photographs of Andrew Joseph Russell

by Daniel Davis.

Softcover, 9x10", 208 pages, 144 B&W photos. 2018.

Copublished with the Utah State Historical Society. Affiliated with the Utah Division of State History, Utah Department of Heritage & Arts

"Andrew J. Russell is primarily known as the man who photographed the famous 'East and West Shaking Hands' image of the Golden Spike ceremony on May 10, 1869. He also took nearly one thousand other images that document almost every aspect of the construction of the Union Pacific Railroad.

"Across the Continent is the most detailed study to date of the life and work of an often-overlooked but prolific artist who contributed immensely not only to documentation of the railroad but also to the nation's visualization of the American West and, earlier, the Civil War. The central focus in the book is on the large body of work Russell produced primarily to satisfy the needs of the Union Pacific. Daniel Davis posits that this set of Russell's photos is best understood not through one or a handful of individual images, but as a photographic archive. Taken as a whole, that archive shows that Russell intended for viewers never to forget who built the Union Pacific. His images celebrate working people - masons working on bridge foundations, freighters and their wagons, surveyors with their transits, engine crews posed on their engines, as well as tracklayers, laborers, cooks, machinists, carpenters, graders, teamsters, and clerks pushing paper. Russell contributed to a golden age of Western photography that visually introduced the American West to the nation, changing its public image from that of a Great American Desert to a place of apparently unlimited economic potential.

"Daniel Davis is the photograph curator and associate librarian of Utah State University's Special Collections and Archives."

Table of Contents


Introduction: The Forgotten Photographer

1. A. J. Russell and the Golden Age of Western Photography

2. Russell in New York and during the Civil War (1829 - 1865)

3. The Union Pacific and Central Pacific Railroads and the Use of Photography (1862 - 1868)

4. Russell's First Trip out West (1868)

5. Russell's Second Trip West and the Golden Spike Ceremony (1869)

6. Documenting the West (Summer and Fall of 1869)

7. Leslie's Illustrated and the Market in Photographs after 1870

8. Russell's Images and the Rise and Decline of Western Photography

Epilogue: The Forgotten Photographs of the Union Pacific, from Obscurity to Rediscovery

Catalog of Russell's Union Pacific Photographs