Photographing the Silver Explosion
Born in 1843, William Henry Jackson began as a colorist in the studio of A.S. Holmes, Troy, N.Y. and as an assistant to A. F. Styles of Rutland, Vermont. He was to become the best known of the 19th century western-landscape photographers. He is said to have taken 54,000 negatives. W. H. Jackson served in the Civil War for a year. At age 23, in 1866, he left Vermont for the west, sketching camp life, but taking no photographs. In California, he signed on with an outfit herding horses east. Three months later he arrived with his brother Edward in Omaha, Nebraska.
There he settled in 1867, founding Jackson Brothers Studio, and began his life as a professional photographer. In 1870 he became a full-time U.S. government employee, joining the U.S. Geological Survey. He sold his Omaha gallery in 1872.
Discouraged with government pay, William Henry Jackson opened a studio in Denver, Colorado, in 1879. He received a commission from the Denver & Rio Grande Rail Road (D&RG R.R.) two years later, and took an extensive trip to document the efforts of the railway workers and scenic views. This stereoview is from that 1881 survey. In 1897, he became a partner in the Detroit Photographic Company, until it failed in 1924. He died in 1942 at the age of 99.
Tons of Colorado Mined Silver, circa 1880 from W.H. Jackson & Co., Photographers, 414 Larimer Street, Denver, Colo.
This view shows the enormous quantity of silver being shipped out of Colorado by rail in the 1880s. Each of these bars weighed about 70 pounds. Much of this silver was to be purchased by the U.S. Treasury and shipped to the Mints to become U.S. silver dollars.