Picturing Progress: Carleton
Watkins's 1867 Stereoviews of the Columbia River Gorge
by Megan K. Friedel
and Terry Toedtemeier
In 1867, California photographer Carleton Watkins traveled throughout the Columbia River Gorge, creating now famous mammoth-plate photographs, as well as lesser known stereoviews, of the surrounding landscape. Those stereoview photographs, according to Megan K. Friedel and Terry Toedtemeier, tell a rich story of a landscape in flux, caught between Euro-American settlement of the pioneer era and an emerging modern era. Given the dynamism that has characterized interaction between humans, particularly Euro-Americans, and the Columbia River, Watkins's prints show the river in a moment of perceived calm, yet on the brink of irrevocable change. The prints also tell the story of their creator's personal relationships along the river.
Megan K. Friedel was most recently an archivist at the Oregon Historical Society Research Library. She earned her M.A. in History as well as an M.L.I.S. at Simmons College and was the co-curator, with Terry Toedtemeier, of the Oregon Historical Society's exhibition, Carleton Watkins: Stereoviews of the Columbia River Gorge. Her research interests include the visual history of the American West and women's narratives of traveling the West by auto during the early twentieth century.
Terry Toedtemeier, who died in December 2008, was Curator of Photography at the Portland Art Museum and co-editor of Wild Beauty – Photographs of the Columbia River Gorge, 1867–1957 (published by Oregon State University Press in 2008). Toedtemeier was a photographer whose personal interest was in the geologic history and geographic distribution of the Pacific Northwest's extensive basalt formations. He earned a B.S. degree in Earth Sciences from Oregon State University in 1969 and maintained an active interest in geology and mineralogy. The author of numerous articles on photography, Toedtemeier had a strong interest in the history of photography in the Northwest.
Voyage of the Isaac Todd
by H. Lloyd Keith
During the War of 1812, the British North West Company endeavored to expand its fur trade operations in the Oregon Country, an undertaking historian H. Lloyd Keith researched by studying personal correspondence and business records. The maiden voyage of the company's newly established globe circling trade route was assigned to the Isaac Todd, a recently acquired vessel owned by John McTavish, nephew of the company's senior partner. Hostilities between America and Britain forced the trade ship to sail with a military escort, and military engagement with American ships was especially a concern in the disputed territory of the Columbia River. Keith concludes that although the Isaac Todd completed its trade mission, the endeavor resulted in considerable financial loss to the company, forcing the North West Company to greatly reconsider its commercial policies.
H. Lloyd Keith, who died in November 2008, was a member of the Centre for Rupert's Land Studies and Professor Emeritus in sociology and history at Shoreline Community College, Seattle, Washington. He was the author of North of Athabasca: Slave Lake and Mackenzie River Documents of the North West Company, 1800–1821 (2001) and was at work on a documentary history of the North West Company's affairs on the Columbia River, 1807–1821.