Eagle Creek (1867)

Eagle Creek in 1867
Carleton Watkinss
Carleton Watkins (Wikimedia)
​This 1867 photograph by Carleton Watkins shows the railroad and buildings near the mouth of Eagle Creek at the Columbia River. Watkins (1829-1916) was a highly acclaimed early western photographer. Much of his work captured scenes of the Yosemite area, Sierra Nevada mining locations and early San Francisco. In 1867 he photographed the Columbia River Gorge and upper Willamette River areas. His subjects included views of the growing railroad and steamship industries as well as early settlements and beautiful landscapes. By the end of his Oregon work, he had created 60 large negatives and 136 stereographs.

Watkins' life took a tragic turn in the 1890s when he began to lose his sight. His resulting inability to work left him and his family living in an abandoned railroad car for 18 months before he was given the deed to a California ranch. Most of his photographs and negatives were destroyed in the fires caused by the devastating 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Never fully recovering from the shock of the loss, he spent his last years in a California hospital for the insane. Watkins died in 1916 and was buried in an unmarked grave on the hospital grounds. (Eagle Creek Image: Oregon State Archives, Scenic Image No. PICT17)