Overland Emigrant Photographs

Photography was still in its infancy when emigrants began crossing the Great Plains to Oregon and California in the 1840s. Cumbersome cameras, fragile glass negatives, and perishable chemicals made photography difficult outside the studio, and almost impossible during an overland journey in all kinds of weather. These rare examples are the only photographs held by the Nebraska State Historical Society that show emigrants crossing the Plains, and they were taken during the later years of overland wagon travel.

Mormon Camp, Wyoming, Nebraska (RG3351.PH0-000031)

Mormon camp, Wyoming, Nebraska. Wyoming was a small village near present Nebraska City that was a jumping-off point for Mormons traveling to Utah in the 1860s. Carte-de-visite by Charles R. Savidge, June 1866. (RG3351.PH0-000031)

Mouth of Echo Canyon (RG3351.PH0-000033)

Oxen-drawn wagons passing a stone roadhouse as they enter Echo Canyon in Utah, en route to Salt Lake City. Note the telegraph lines that run along the left side of the image. Carte-de-visite by C. W. Carter, 1867. (RG3351.PH0-000033)

Mormon Train Fording the South Platte (RG3351.PH0-000032)

Mormon wagon train fording the South Platte River near Fremont’s Spring, close to the present town of Hershey, Nebraska, in Lincoln County. Carte-de-visite by Charles R. Savidge, August 1866. (RG3351.PH0-000032)

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About History Nebraska
History Nebraska was founded in 1878 as the Nebraska State Historical Society by citizens who recognized Nebraska was going through great changes and they sought to record the stories of both indigenous and immigrant peoples. It was designated a state institution and began receiving funds from the legislature in 1883. Legislation in 1994 changed History Nebraska from a state institution to a state agency. The division is headed by Interim Director and CEO Jill Dolberg. They are assisted by an administrative staff responsible for financial and personnel functions, museum store services, security, and facilities maintenance for History Nebraska.
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