c. 1868
Museum Purchase

part of permanent exhibit at the North Carolina Transportation Museum at Spencer Shops, requested in 1996

Photograph. Title: 225 Laying Last Rail Promontory (Scratched on negative) Image Description: See title. Physical Description: "Imperial Plate" collodion glass negative, 10"X13 ". Sub. Cat.: Transportation -- Railroads

Used: Union Pacific Railroad

Birth Location: Nunda, New York

Active Location:

Photographer for Union Pacific Railway Company


In 1868 at age thirty-eight Andrew J. Russell, painter and photographer, embarked on an expedition to document the construction of the Union Pacific portion of the transcontinental railroad. Often times credited as the official photographer of the Union Pacific Railroad, Russell worked with complete cooperation of the railroad as he traveled across country with the railroad to Promontory Point, Utah. To complete his visual record of this historic event to unite the continent by rail-Russell would make three trips one in 1868 and two in 1869. On these trips he would travel with all of the equipment he would need to create his photographs. A typical inventory would include: an unwieldy and bulky 30-pound view camera, a stereo camera, lens, a darkroom tent, glass plates (which he cut himself in two sizes 10 by 13 inches for the view camera and 4 by 8 for the stereo) and many bottles of chemicals. Russell would then transport these fragile materials by wagon over steep and rocky terrain.

Gender: male

Picture This Information

This artifact is part of the OMCA's Picture This website. More about the context and history of this artifact is available at Picture This.

About the Picture This web project: California's Perspectives on American History is a resource for teachers and students to learn about the experiences of diverse peoples of California by using primary source images from the Oakland Museum of California's collections. Organized into 11 time periods spanning from pre-1769 to the present, more than 300 photographs, drawings, posters, and prints tell stories from the perspectives of different ethnic groups. Historical contexts are provided to offer a framework of California's role in relation to American history.

The National Archives state that primary sources, "fascinate students because they are real and they are personal: history is humanized through them." Picture This invites students to examine the historical record, encouraging them to connect history with real people and explore how images tell stories and convey historical evidence about the human experience. History becomes more than just a series of facts, dates, and events.      

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