The photographic series made by Alexander Gardner in Kansas between mid September and late October 1867 is the earliest and most diverse systematic photo-documentation of the American West. The Kansas series, originally titled “Across the Continent on the Union Pacific Railway, Eastern Division,” is part of a later series titled “Across the Continent on the Union Pacific Railroad.” The entire series systematically photo-documented the surveyed railroad line which began at the Mississippi River in St. Louis and ended at the Pacific Ocean near San Francisco, California. The Kansas series, consisting of several hundred views between Kansas City and Fort Wallace, in Western Kansas, documented the initial impact of the new railroad settlements on the native prairies. This was particularly true along the Smoky Hill River route where construction was in progress as shown in Gardner’s pictures. This series makes an especially valuable source for a rephotographic series to detail visually the transformation of the Kansas landscape by the early European settlements along the railroad.
- via “Rephotographing Alexander Gardner’s 1867 Across the Continent on the Union Pacific Railway, Eastern Division” by John Charlton