Throughout the 19th century, and largely different from today, people approached the Falls from the south side. Upstream on the road–now Minnehaha Avenue–there was indeed a bridge over the creek, but the roadhouses and hotels and such were south of the creek, and the railroad depot (when the railroads came in) was put where the people were, on the south side. It was closer to the Fort, after all, and the Fort was the only legal settlement in the earliest years. Minnehaha Falls were within the military reservation at the beginning of European settlement in Minnesota.
Someone, some time in those early years, built a bridge to allow people to cross the creek below the Falls.
Mollie Carbutt is, again, quite prettily posed against the butternut tree, while the Wilsons gaze across the gorge. Edward L. Wilson was a prominent publisher of the “Philadelphia Photographer” magazine, which seems to have had some national acclaim. And John Carbutt was among the most inventive and studious of early photographers. This image was printed as a photograph and pasted into the “Philadelphia Photographer.”
Chicago’s John Carbutt took this picture of his wife and Mr. and Mrs. Edward L. Wilson in October 1866, and it’s interesting for several reasons. That very first bridge across the creek is in terrible condition with obvious broken railings. It’s now a few years old.
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.