Photographers in Routt County, Colorado

This blog post presents a chronological listing of photographers who had studios in Routt  County in the 19th century.  (In 1911, the western portion of Routt County split off to form Moffat County.) More detailed posts for some of these photographers are available on the blog.

Routt and Moffat Counties are located in the northwest corner of Colorado, best known for the Steamboat Springs ski resort.   Even today, the counties are a bit off the beaten path, located about 2 hours and 45 minutes from Denver, even longer in snowy weather.

In the 1890s, the population fluctuated between 2,500 and 3,600 people, compared with about 25,000 today.  A few locals set up studios in Craig and Steamboat, but most ceased operation after a few years.  Given the scarcity of residents in the 19th century, traveling photographers provided an incentive for locals to have their portraits made.  Some photographers, like George McDonald, had mounts printed especially for their stay.  Others likely used mounts from their home base, making it difficult to determine if the photographs were made in Colorado or if the people traveled to other states to have their portraits made.

1892                                                                                                                           Luke & Haskinson, a partnership of Wellington O. Luke and an unknown person named Haskinson, active in Craig, CO.

1892-1896

Amos Snuffin Bennet lived in Axial, Colorado, a now-extinct town in Moffat County.  He specialized in making photographs of wild game, landscapes and portraits.  Bennet often served as a guide to hunters and fishermen visiting the area, photographically documenting their adventures.

1893-1896

Mary Augusta and Allen Grant Wallihan, were the most prominent photographers of the area.  They produced two compilations of  wildlife photographs, Hoofs, Claws and Antlers of the Rocky Mountains (1894) and Camera Shots at Big Game (1901), both with introductions by Theodore Roosevelt.  The Wallihan’s photographs were exhibited at the 1900 Paris Exposition and in 1904 at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition.

1894

Man in bed
G. W. McDonald, photographer. Unidentified man in bed. Museum of Northwest Colorado, 2012.004.31

George Willis McDonald (b.c.1862-1911)  was born in Collingwood, Ontario, Canada around 1862.  In 1890, he began his photographic career in Denver, Colorado with a studio at 1206 Larimer Street.  In 1893, he ran a branch studio in Georgetown, Colorado and in July 1894, he worked in Steamboat Springs.  McDonald maintained a photo studio in Denver until his death in November 1911.

Mrs. Ada Edgar Wither (b. 1870?)                       Ada Edgar married Peter Richie Wither at Hahn’s Peak on November 15, 1890.  They lived in Steamboat Springs through 1894.  Ada worked as a photographer in Steamboat.  By 1895 the couple lived in Denver.  The couple divorced by 1900.  On February 7, 1900, Ada married Lewis C. Davis in Cheyenne, Wyoming.  They lived in Erie Colorado.

1895

Two people on bicycles
W. J. Johnston, photographer. Portrait of Hugh McKenna (1869-1930) and wife, 1890s.  Museum of Northwest Colorado, 2015.005.305.

William James Johnston was born in January 1857 in Portsmouth, Ontario. As a young man, he moved to Wyoming, settling in Green River as a photographer.  He partnered with Charles Baker, as Baker & Johnston in Evanston, WY.  Johnston worked as a photographer in Wyoming throughout the 1890s.  He traveled to Meeker, Craig and Hayden, Colorado in 1895.    

In 1904, Johnston patented the Cirkit panoramic camera.  The camera rotates on a tripod and can capture a 360-degree view, excelling in recording group portraits and city views.  He sold his rights to the camera, with the exception of the Canadian rights, before moving home to Ontario.  He founded the Panoramic Camera Company of Canada.  He opened a photo studio on Ontario’s Victoria Street and specialized in panoramic photography.  He remained in Toronto until the early 1920s when he relocated to California to pursue mining interests.  Before the end of the decade, Johnston was back in Ontario.  He retired from photography in 1930.  He died in October 1941. He is buried at St. John’s Norway Cemetery in Ontario.

1895-1896

Aaron August Brown, photographer. Hinman Children: clockwise starting at top: Mary Alve Retta, Hattie Georgia, Leone, Edward, Abbie, and Helen. Museum of Northwest Colorado, 2012.004.617.

Aaron August Brown                                               Aaron August Tägtström was born in Sweden on July 1, 1860.  In 1887 he immigrated to the United States and changed his surname to Brown.  Having learned photography in Sweden, Brown set up a studio in Rawlins, Wyoming, one hundred miles north of Craig, Colorado.  Brown traveled to Craig in July 1895, to spend a few days making portraits.  A year later he returned to Craig for ten days, with J. Ernest Ralston as his assistant.  He promised to complete all his orders before they moved on to Hayden and Steamboat Springs.  In 1900, Brown was granted a patent for a bicycle with a motor driven by compressed air.  In 1902, Brown moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, where he continued to work as a photographer.  The last twenty years of his life were spent in the chiropractic trade.  On September 20, 1929, Aaron August Brown died in San Diego, California.  His remains lie at San Diego’s Greenwood Memorial Park.  

1896

Ninion H. Conley was born on December 14, 1857, in Minnesota.   Conley was based in Primghar, Iowa.  He traveled through northwest Colorado with his tent gallery in 1896, visiting Meeker, Craig and Steamboat.  Two years later, he set up his tent gallery in Osceola and Ely, Nevada.  He returned to Primghar, Iowa where he died on March 13, 1902.  

John Ernest Ralston was born in Indiana.  He worked as a photographer in Iowa before coming to Craig, Colorado in 1896 to assist photographer Aaron A. Brown.  Ralston worked briefly in Boise, Idaho, before settling in Seattle, Washington for the majority of his career.  Between 1904 and 1906, Ralston worked in the studio of Edward S. Curtis, the well-known photographer of Native Americans.  Ralston was an active member of the Photographers’ Association of the Pacific Northwest.  Ralston worked in Seattle until the mid-1940s when he retired from photography.  John Ernest Ralston died on August 7, 1949 in Seattle and was buried in the city’s Forest Lawn Cemetery.

1896-1904                                                                                                               Dan Diamond moved to Craig, Colorado in 1896, where his mother and two brothers resided.  Craig operated a gallery from his home and also set up a photo car for his travels, working in Craig and Steamboat.

1898-1900

Herbert Lincoln States was born on February 16, 1869 in Michigan to George William States and Harriet T. Lincoln States.  In the 1880s, the family moved to Delta, Colorado.  H. L. States married Hattie Almira Castle on November 26, 1887.  By 1894, States operated a photography studio from a tent in Delta.  He accepted grain, butter and eggs for payment.  In October 1895, Frank L. Bishop took over gallery duties.  In 1897, H. L. States settled in New Castle, Colorado.  Later that year, he photographed the aftermath of Colorado’s worst railroad wreck to date, when a Rio Grande passenger train crashed head-on with a special Colorado Midland stock train.  He spent summers at Steamboat Springs, Colorado, before moving there year-round in 1899.

By 1901, States had left Colorado.  He pursued photography in Provo, Utah, Council, Idaho, Cambridge, Idaho, and Toledo, Oregon.  Herbert L. States died on April 24, 1926 in Cambridge, Idaho.

Steamboat
Herbert Lincoln States, photographer. Steamboat Springs, circa 1899. Museum of Northwest Colorado, 2014.098.009.

1899

Thomas E. Barnhouse (1831-1911), a prolific photographer based in Grand Junction, Colorado set up his tent gallery in Steamboat in August 1899.  Barnhouse, a Civil War veteran, had a long career as a photographer.  His life will be profiled in a future blog post.

1899-1900

Group of women
Ed Rodstrom, photographer. Group of women including Cassie Finley (bottom left corner) and Cullie Melugin (bottom right corner) Museum of Northwest Colorado, 2016.091.002.

Carl Edward “Ed” Rodstrom was born on March 3, 1875 in Hobart, Indiana to Swedish immigrants Ingel Rådström and Anna Christine Davidson Rådström.  Around 1880, the family moved to a farm in Prairie, Nebraska.

Ed Rodstrom learned photography in Holdrege, Nebraska.  He would pursue a life-long career in photography traveling through Nebraska, northern Colorado, and Kansas, before settling in Dallas, Texas.  Rodstrom died on February 9, 1970 in Dallas.  His older sister Lydia ran a photo studio in Omaha, Nebraska for many years.

 

Thank you to Daniel Davidson, Director, Museum of Northwest Colorado, for extensive research assistance and Naylen Wheat, Office Manager/Registrar, for providing the scans,

 

 

 

 

Dan Diamond in Craig, Colorado

Born in Huron, Ontario, Canada, Dan Diamond worked as a cabinetmaker in
Chicago before learning photography. Chicago’s cold weather, combined with the dusty conditions of a woodworking shop, irritated Diamond’s lungs. This condition would plague him for the rest of his life.
Diamond returned to Ontario, studied photography, and set up a studio in
Pocatello, Idaho in the 1890s. In 1896, he moved to Craig, Colorado, where his mother and two brothers resided. Craig operated a gallery from his home and also set up a photo car for his travels.
Saw Mill
Dan Diamond, photographer. McLachlan Lumber Mill – c. 1896. Photo courtesy of Museum of Northwest Colorado, 1990.021.1.  Archie McLachlan opened his mill 25 miles north of Craig in the early 1890s,  operating it until 1907.  The mill supplied much of the lumber used to build Craig’s early structures.
One afternoon, Diamond and his friend, Amos Bennet, another Craig
photographer, bicycled twenty-two miles north of town to Fortification Rocks, to take photographs of a rhumba of rattlesnakes. They managed to lure nineteen of the snakes into their lunch box and brought their captives back to Craig for a public display.
Saddle card
Dan Diamond, photographer. Fred Ross Saddle Card, 1898.  Fred Ross, a German immigrant, operated a saddle shop in Craig.  He hired Diamond to produce promotional cards for his business. Museum of Northwest Colorado, Craig, Colorado, 1992.019.3.
In the spring of 1898, Diamond set out in his photo car for Baggs and Dixon, Wyoming.  That summer, Dan and his brother traveled to Steamboat and Hayden, Colorado.  

To treat his tuberculosis, Diamond went to Denver during the fall of 1898 for the Murphy treatment. The results were disappointing. He found some relief in warmer climates, and for the rest of his life would spend considerable time in Arizona and Albuquerque, New Mexico.
                                                                          In August 1901, Diamond was back in Craig working as a photographer.
His photographs of Arizona were included in a stereopticon show alongside work by Amos Bennet and Clyde and Art Seymour.
                                                                                                                                                            In late November 1904, declining health forced Diamond to sell all of his camera equipment.  Dan Diamond died at his home in Craig on April 22, 1905.  He is buried in the Craig Cemetery.

Thank you to Elisabeth Parker, former assistant chief, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress for proofreading.   Daniel Davidson, Director of the Museum of Northwest Colorado, shared his research notes on Dan Diamond with me and Neylan Wheat, Museum of Northwest Colorado provided the scans.

Amos Bennet, “The Snake King of Colorado”

Amos Snuffin Bennet was born on December 20, 1869 in Omaha, Nebraska to Elisha Bennett III and Esther Ann Snuffin Bennett.  The family moved to Arapaho County in Colorado Territory a few months after his birth.  By 1892, Amos Bennet lived in Axial, Colorado, a town that no longer exists in Moffat County.  Like his peers, A. G. Wallihan and his wife, Mary Augusta Wallihan, Bennet specialized in making photographs of wild game, landscapes and portraits.  Bennet often served as a guide to hunters and fishermen visiting the area, photographically documenting their adventures.  His  work won second prize in a contest offered by Forest and Stream magazine.  

Hunter
Amos S. Bennet, photographer. “Wild Game Photos taken expressly for Overman Wheel Co., Denver, 1890s.  History Colorado. Accession #92.11.20.

Bennet excelled as an athlete, riding his bicycle nearly 200 miles over the mountains from Denver to Axial, an early instance of mountain biking.  He wrote an essay about his journey for the August 1893 issue of Sports Afield.  He often took his camera and his rifle along on local rides.  One day while out photographing elk, he later shot an antelope with his rifle.  He slung the more than 200 pound beast over his shoulder, and then rode seven miles back home on his bicycle.  

On another occasion, Bennet crawled on his hands and knees to sneak up on a herd of antelope with his camera.  Bennet reported in Cycling West that “I had crawled about half the distance necessary when suddenly I dimly perceived something gliding right out from under my hand seemingly, and the next instant heard the sharp whir-r-r of a rattlesnake. It is needless to say I stopped right there! When I got my eyes mopped out and could see plainly I was glad I did. To my startled vision the ground ahead of me seemed alive with the reptiles. The whole prairie was one writhing, twisting mass and the air was vibrating like a buzz saw with the alarum of their tails.”  He used his Kodak to courageously capture images of the snakes.  

During the summer of 1897, snake charmer, Harry Davis, hired Bennet to provide rattlesnakes for a Denver display during the festival of Mountain and Plain.  Bennet captured twenty snakes at Fortification Rocks, a location north of Craig, known for its substantial snake population.  Bennet used a five-foot long pole to handle the snakes but Davis wrestled the snakes with his hands, receiving a non-lethal bit on his finger.

On September 28, 1898, Bennet married Alice Belle Caster.  On their wedding trip, the couple visited Meeker and Denver, Colorado.  There is no further mention of Bennet’s photography in the local press.  After his marriage, he worked as an engineer and carpenter.  In 1903, the Bennet’s departed Colorado for points west, settling in Klamath Falls Oregon in 1909.  Two years later, Amos S. Bennet died unexpectedly of a heart attack at the young age of 41.  He left his wife and two young children.  

 

Thank you to Keegan Martin, Digital Imaging Assistant, History Colorado for providing the scan and Elisabeth Parker, former assistant chief, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress for proof-reading.