John Carbutt at Minnehaha Falls, part 1

John Carbutt and Edward L. Wilson and their wives.
John Carbutt and Edward L. Wilson gazing at their wives across the Minnehaha gorge in 1866.

John Carbutt, based in Chicago, was among the most innovative of 19th century photographers.  He was the first to print on celluloid, opening the door to the entire film industry.  And he perfected the printing of X-ray photographs on glass plates.

Carbutt also took commissions for series of images on the frontier.  He was most celebrated for his images taken along the Union Pacific Railroad as it rushed west across Nebraska towards the 100th Meridian and the completion of the trans-continental railroad.  But Carbutt also took a few series of pictures in Minnesota, including some for the Northwestern Packet Company.

In October 1866, Carbutt came to Minnesota for a third time.  With him were his wife Mollie and the prominent photographer, writer, and publisher Edward L. Wilson and his wife.  The trip was immediately before the Union Pacific junket.  There’s no indication that Mollie Carbutt or the Wilsons accompanied him on the western trip, so he probably took Mollie back to Chicago, since there he boarded the train for the 100th Meridian.

This picture was taken in the first two weeks of October, 1866.


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