This is a work in progress to compile as comprehensive as possible a listing numbers and titles of individual Carleton Eugene Watkins stereographs of Arizona. Each listing will include a brief biographical overview, in addition to the checklist of stereoviews complied to date.
Carleton Eugene Watkins was born on November 11, 1829, in Oneonta, New York. At 22 he left Oneonta for San Francisco with Collis Huntington, who went on to become one of the owners of the Central Pacific Railroad.
In 1854, Watkins began working with Robert Vance, initially learning photography, which would become a passion for the rest of his life. Watkins opened his own gallery in 1858. Using both an 18” X 22” mammoth plate and stereo cameras, he produced iconic images that helped define the nation’s perception of California. His work in the early 1860s in Yosemite contributed to generating national attention on its beauty, helped persuade Congress to protect the Yosemite Valley, and resulted in a national reputation for his work.
Watkins’ work focused heavily on California. As his reputation grew, he received commissions which broadened his portfolio. The Oregon Steamship Company hired Watkins to photograph Portland and the Columbia River in 1867. Though he had photographed the California railroads during this era, a major infusion of images to his portfolio came from the purchase of the negatives of the construction of the Central Pacific Railroad produced by Alfred A. Hart. These stereographs were published with the “Watkins Central Pacific Railroad” imprint.
Watkins’ reputation continued to grow. His portfolio ranged from cartes de visites and stereographs to cabinet cards and his magnificent, mammoth plates. He moved to larger studio quarters, named the “Yosemite Art Gallery,” in San Francisco in 1871. He traveled throughout California and his catalog of stereographs grew to include thousands of titles. Unfortunately though a talented photographer, he was not a good businessman. In 1875 his business faltered and he lost his studio to creditors. One, J.J. Cook, obtained rights to all of Watkins negatives. Cook and photographer Isaac W. Taber took over the “Yosemite Art Gallery” and marketed Watkins’ work under Taber’s imprint.
Despite loosing his entire life’s work, or possibly in spite of doing so, Watkins regrouped and began again. He returned to Yosemite and started a second series of pho tographs, including his “Watkins New Series” and “Watkins Pacific Coast Series” stereographs. He would eventually produce over 2,300 new titles, including over 80 stereographs of Arizona.
Carleton Watkins produced over 100 stereographs and photographs during his trip to Arizona from April 10–May 18, 1880. He traveled by rail from Yuma to Tucson making photographs along the route. Most of these stereographs were produced on his New Series mount and were labeled:
WATKINS NEW SERIES/ Of Pacific Coast Views, 427 Montgomery Street, S.F./ Photographic Views of California, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, Lower Cal., and the/Pacific Coast embracing Yosemite, Big Trees, Geysers, Mount Shasta Mining, /City, etc. etc. Views made to order in any part of the State or Coast
He produced over 30 stereographs of Yuma, including views of the fort, new railroad bridge, and overviews of the town. He also made a number of images of the local native population and of the various cacti species which grew in Southern Arizona, with each labeled by its scientific name on the mount. While in Tucson, he produced similar documentation of the region. He photographed the area adjacent to the Palace Hotel, including two views of the Park Brewery. Watkins also visited the Mission San Xavier del Bac. He had been documenting the Spanish missions of California, and he added San Xavier to his portfolio. In addition to his stereo camera, he brought his mammoth plate camera and made four larger views as part of this series.
Watkins traveled north to the Casa Grande, producing five stereographs of the ancient ruins. Before returning to California, he also visited the boomtowns of Tombstone, Millville, and Charleston.
Back in California, despite his contract work for the railroad, he never reached his previous level of success. He eventually returned to and became manager of his old “Yosemite Art Gallery.”
The San Francisco earthquake dealt Watkins a final blow. He lost the studio and all his negatives. In 1910 he was committed to the Napa State Hospital for the Insane. Carleton Watkins died six years later on June 23, 1916.
(from Arizona Stereographs 1865-1930 by Jeremy Rowe, 2014)
For detailed information about Carleton Watkins photographs please see Carleton Watkins.org
If you have additional information about the Carleton Watkins, examples of his Arizona stereographs that are not on this list, or variant titles for any of the numbers or captions I would appreciate hearing from you. Ideally, I would like to obtain either a Xerox copy or scan for my files as well.
Thanks in advance for your time and assistance.
Please feel free to use this information but please credit this source and reproduce only with full credit information.
of Watkins stereographs of Arizona see Steve
Hestleton's Carleton Watkins site with examples frmo my collection
and other sources.
C. E. WATKINS
LOCATION: San Francisco, California
SERIES: WATKINS PACIFIC COAST SERIES
MOUNT COLOR: orange
DATE: April 10 - May 18, 1880
4837. Casa Grande, Pre-historic Ruins, Arizona
4838. Casa Grande, Pre-historic Ruins, Arizona
4839. Casa Grande, Pre-historic Ruins, Arizona
4840. Casa Grande, Pre-historic Ruins, Arizona
4841. Casa Grande, Pre-historic Ruins, Arizona
LOCATION: San Francisco, California
SERIES: WATKINS NEW SERIES/ YOSEMITE AND PACIFIC COAST/ 26 MONTGOMERY STREET/
AND WOODWARD GARDEN GARDENS, S.F.
DATE: Taken April 10 - May 18, 1880
NOTES: Same series as other Watkins New Series, published from 1876-79
Yuma Indian, Arizona (in script)
(studio view of two apache Indians, one holding bow on the other)
PHOTOGRAPHER: C. E.
LOCATION: San Francisco, California
SERIES: WATKINS NEW SERIES/ Of Pacific Coast Views, 427 Montgomery Street,
S.F./ Photographic Views of California , Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, Lower Cal.,
and the/Pacific Coast embracing Yosemite, Big Trees, Geysers, Mount Shasta
Mining,/ City, etc.etc. Views made to order in any part of the State or Coast
April 10 - May 18, 1880
NOTES: Published 1880 - 1890
4842. Cactus,(Cereus Englemanni.) Arizona
4843. Cactus,(Opuntia Arbuscula.) Arizona
4844. Cactus,(Opuntia Echinophloea.) Arizona
4845. Cactus, (Opuntia bigelovi) Arizona
4846. Cactus (Fonquiera Splendens)
4847. Cactus, (Cereus Giganteus) Arizona
4848. Cactus (Cereus Giganteus)
4849. Cactus (Cereus Giganteus)
4850. Cereus Giganteus in blossom. Arizona
4851. Dos Palmos Station, Colorado Desert, 60 feet below sea level
4852. Fort Yuma, from Yuma City
4853. Fort Yuma, from Yuma City
4854. At Fort Yuma
4855. At Fort Yuma
4856. City of Yuma, from the Fort
4857. City of Yuma from the Fort, Arizona
4858. City of Yuma from the Fort, Arizona
4859. View from Fort Yuma, Arizona
4860. Colorado Bridge, from Fort Yuma, Arizona
4861. R.R. Depot, Yuma,
4862. Colorado Bridge, Yuma, Arizona
4863. Colorado Bridge, Yuma, Arizona
4864. R.R. Depot, Steamer Landing, Yuma Arizona
4865. Colorado River Steamer and Bridge, Yuma, Arizona
4866. Barge No. 3 going through the draw, Yuma, Arizona
4867. Colorado River Bridge, Yuma, Arizona
4868. View up the Colorado, Yuma, Arizona
4869. Colorado River Bridges, Yuma, Arizona
4870. Colorado River Steamer "Gila", Arizona (ornate variant type
for Watkin's New Series)
4871. View of the Colorado River, Yuma, Arizona
4872. R.R. Depot, Yuma, Arizona
4873. R.R. Depot, Yuma, Arizona
4874. View up the track from Depot, Yuma, Arizona
4875. View over Yuma, from Near the Depot, Arizona
4876. View over the City of Yuma, Arizona
4877. Along the Gila at High Water
4878. Along the Gila at High Water
4879. Home Comforts, Yuma, Arizona
4880. Yuma Indian, Yuma, Arizona
4881. Yuma Indian, Yuma, Arizona
4882. Yuma Indian, Yuma, Arizona
4483. Yuma Indian, Yuma, Arizona
4884. Yuma Indian, Yuma, Arizona
4885. City of Tucson, Arizona
4886. Sentinel Mountain from Palace Hotel, Tucson, Arizona
4887. Flour Mill, foot of Sentinel Mountain, Tucson, Arizona
4888. Palace Hotel, Tucson, Arizona
4889. View from the Palace Hotel, Tucson, Arizona
4890. View from the Palace Hotel, Tucson, Arizona
4891. View from the Palace Hotel, Tucson, Arizona
4892. View from the Palace Hotel, Tucson, Arizona
4893. View from the Palace Hotel, Tucson, Arizona
4894. Street in Tucson
4895. Wood Train in Tucson, Arizona
4896. Park Brewery, Tucson, Arizona
4897. Park Brewery, Tucson, Arizona
4898. Gen. View San Xavier
Mission, near Tucson, Arizona
4899. San Xavier Mission, near Tucson, Arizona
4900. San Xavier Mission, near Tucson, Arizona
4901. San Xavier Mission, near Tucson, Arizona
4902. Contention Mill, Contention, Arizona
4903. Contention Mill, Contention, Arizona
4904. Mason's Western Hotel, Contention, Arizona
4905. Wells Fargo Express Office, Contention, Arizona
4906. Charleston, Arizona
4907. Residence R. Gird, Esq., Millville, Arizona
4908. Gird's Mill, Millville, Arizona
4909. Gird's Dam, Millville, Arizona
4910. Corbin's Mill, Millville, Arizona
4911. Tombstone, Express, Millville, Arizona
4912. Tombstone, Arizona
4913. Tombstone, Arizona
4914. Street in Tombstone
4915. Cosmopolitan Hotel, C. Bilicke, Pro., Tombstone, Ariz.
4916. California Store, Tombstone, Arizona
4917. View in Tombstone,
4918. View in Tombstone
4919. View in Tombstone, Arizona
4920. Tough Nut Hoisting Works, Tombstone, Arizona
4921. Contention Works, Tombstone, Arizona
4922. Contention Works, Tombstone, Arizona
Indians of Arizona and New Mexico (boy with back mule)
Yuma R.R. Bridge from the Arizona Side
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