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Andrew Joseph Russell "Meeting of the Rails at Promontory Point" 1869
[Celebrating The Negative]
1869 (original image) 2008 (publication)
Gelatin silver print
Oakland Museum of Art, Oakland, California
Hands: Marcia Eyerman, 11.9.93
In 1844, Asa Whitney, a New Yorker, suggested that the federal government sponsor a transcontinental railroad to speed travel to the East. Congress surveyed routes and listened to pitches from various towns and territories before deciding that the Central Pacific Railroad should build east from San Francisco while the Union Pacific would build west from Chicago. The rails met on the 10th of May, 1869, at Promontory Point, Utah, in a photo opportunity.
California sent a golden spike, and A. J. Russell, who had made photographs as a captain in the Union Army, set up his camera with its 10 x 13 inch glass plates. After the speeches, according to historian Barry B. Combs, the Union Pacific's engine No. 119 (right) moved over the spot where the spike was placed, and close to the Central Pacific's locomotive, Jupiter, which sported a wide funnel designed for engines burning wood. Grenville M. Dodge (left) and Samuel
S. Montague, the two chief construction engineers, shook hands. For most of a century, this picture was attributed to another photographer, but handwriting at the top of the negative clearly identifies the wet-plate as Russell's.
This photograph is included in the portfolio Celebrating the Negative photographs by published by John Loengard, Etherton Gallery (2008), pl. 2
All photographs copyright ® John Loengard. Gelatin silver prints printed by Chuck Kelton, Kelton Labs, New York City, under the direct supervision of John Loengard. Printed on Ilford Multigrade Warm Glossy paper. Design and portfolio box construction by Jace Graf, Cloverleaf Studio, Austin, Texas.
Celebrating The Negative/Photographs by John Loengard was published by Etherton Gallery, Tucson, Arizona, in March, 2008, in an edition of eighteen portfolios, including fifteen numbered copies and three artist's proofs.