In 1868, A.J. Russell began a project to document the construction of the Union Pacific, the eastern portion of the first transcontinental railroad. Railroad executives, attuned to the way that photographs might enhance support for their work among investors, politicians, and the general public, offered Russell extraordinary cooperation.
Russell made three trips west (one in 1868 and two in 1869) to document this massive project. He carried multiple cameras, a portable darkroom, assorted chemicals, and a supply of glass plates along the way.
Over 200 photographs of the construction of the railroad are available online through the Beinecke Library’s Digital Images database.