Photoengraving (revisit the blog “Art Is Where You Find It) and photolithography were welcomed by newspaper journalism and by the publishing industry at the turn of the 20th century and were widely available by World War I. Both are photo-mechanical processes used very successfully for reproducing illustrations. How nice to find a good example of photoengraving recently when Pam Boyd shared a 1914 copy of Rocky Mountain Views on the Rio Grande, the “Scenic Line of the World;” consisting of twenty-four quadric-colored engraved views from recent photographs, compiled by Wm. H. Crane. Made exclusively for the Inter-State Company, Denver, Colorado.
The Denver & Rio Grande-Western Pacific Railroads sold these souvenir albums only en route so that passengers would have a remembrance of their rail trip. This particular album consists of black paper pages (doubtfully acid-free) with a colored engraving glued to one side (the recto, not the verso…don’t you love terminology?). The photographs follow the train route so the first entry for Eagle County is the Eagle River Canyon. “Beyond Leadville is the wonderful Canon of the Eagle, with its many mines and its beautiful dashing river. Near Belden station one can see from the car windows the little mining city of Gilman, 2,000 feet above the tracks. It is through this canon that the Denver & Rio Grande has recently completed its double-tracking, westbound trains taking one side of the river, and eastbound the other.”
From a different angle, we see Belden in a photograph taken by Byron Stanley, photographer for New Jersey Zinc [and related to James Naismith of basketball fame].
The next engraving is the iconic Mount of the Holy Cross. “ Chiselled out by the forces of Nature, centuries before the dawn of human history, was this sacred emblem, which is visible far to the left after passing through Eagle River Canon and just before reaching Minturn. High up, almost to the mountain’s top, stands this monument of Christianity in the form of a cross of snow. During the warm days of June, July and August, it is very plain, being caused by the winter’s snow remaining in two transverse canons on the mountain side.” This mountain has been on postcards since the first photograph of it taken by Jackson. This particular postcard is from the Beck Family collection.
The third Eagle County offering is the entrance to the Canyon of the Grand River (now the Colorado River). “The Eagle River joins the Grand near Dotsero, and soon the train enters the magnificent Canon [no tildes in earlier English typeface days] of the Grand River, whose walls, with their wonderful resemblance to masonry, rise many hundreds of feet above the track. The Grand is one of the largest streams in Colorado, and its great canon presents a succession of beautiful scenes which no tourist should miss.”
From the 1930s, we have this shot of the east entrance to Glenwood Canyon, now with a road in place, connecting Eagle County to Garfield County.
Coloring photographs produces an entirely different effect and we can understand why the Denver & Rio Grande would choose the photoengraved images for an album.