Fine lithographic version of Timothy H. O'Sullivan's Albumen silver print showing Camp 8 on the Colorado River, during the Wheeler Surveys.
An engineer graduated from West Point, Lieutenant George Wheeler wanted to find inland passage for troops from Idaho and Utah southward to Arizona. In 1871, he was commissioned with the fourth U.S. Survey to map the topography of that region in view of strategic transit and future settlement. To his original corps of scientists Wheeler added photographer Timothy O'Sullivan, to provide a visual record.
As O'Sullivan's work as a photographer during the Civil War had brought him acclaim, it is not surprising that Wheeler placed great confidence in him from the outset, providing him with a roving commission and a boat of his own on the Colorado River. Although Wheeler's boats progressed slowly (they had to be rowed, sailed and hauled upriver against the current), O'Sullivan's was tardier still. Exploring the astonishing photographic possibilities of the canyons from his boat Picture, he meandered, tacked and stopped as he studied how to turn to advantage the sun and shade, the sheer cliffs, and their reflection in the water and profile against the sky.
This image is drawn from a photograph which appears in an album of thirty-five prints by O'Sullivan entitled Photographs Showing Landscapes, Geological and Other Features of Portions of the Western Territory of the United States Obtained in Connection with Geographical and Geological Explorations and Surveys West of the 100th Meridian, Season of 1871.
This example appeared in Report upon United States Geographical Surveys West of the One Hundredth Meridian, in charge of Capt. Geo. M. Wheeler, Corps of Engineers, U.S. Army ... In seven volumes and one supplement, accompanied by one topographic and one geologic atlas. These seven text volumes were published from 1875 to 1889. They comprise the final, monumental report of Wheeler's Survey. The first volume, Geographical Report, contains much valuable information on the general history of western United States mapping and specific details on the sources of the survey's map sheets. The Topographic and Geologic Atlas were issued separately.