American history preserved as photographer captured the railroad expansion in the 1860s
posted Monday, November 23, 2015 at 10:49 AM EST
Born in 1829, Andrew J. Russell worked a variety of jobs throughout his life. He was first a portrait and landscape painter. In 1862, he helped to organize a militia for the Union Army. While serving for the Union, Russell learned wet-plate collodion photography from photographer Egbert Guy Fowx for a fee of $300 (which is many thousands of dollars in today's money). A few months later, Russell was given the duty of the Army's first official photographer. Russell documented the army engineers' building of military railroads under General Herman Haupt.
Sticking with photography, in 1868, Russell began the project of documenting the construction of the Union Pacific railroad in the Wyoming and Utah territories. The following winter, Russell published The Great West Illustrated, an album of fifty photographs. In 1869, he returned to the Utah territory and then traveled to California before returning home to New York.
For more information on Andrew J. Russell, see here.