Between the 60’s and the ’70’s of the 19th century the photographer Timothy O’Sullivan (1840 – 1882)  was part of a team of artists, soldiers, scientists, and photographers appointed by the government of the US to document the Wild West and reporting informations to Washington. His photographies, which anticipate of many decades the documentations on the tribes carried out by Edward S. Curtis, show a wild landscape, almost at all urbanized, scenes of a sublime as well as nostalgic beauty.

Below: the Colorado river in the Black Canyon, Mohave County, Arizona – 1871

Below: The ruins of the “White House”, ancient buildings of the Anasazi tribe (or Ancestral Puebloans), in the Canyon de Chelly, in Arizona. The first construction dates back to the 14th century. Picture from the 1873

The South side of the Inscription Rock (renamed National Monument El Morro), in New Messico – 1873. Noteworthy is the small figure of a man standing in the centre/right hand side of the picture. The rocky mountain arises in the middle of a traditional route used by travellers. Up until the 17th century each traveller passing by, mostly Europeans, used to leave their name engraved in the stone. In 1906 a law made the practice illegal.

Below: Spanish inscription from the 1726, reciting: “from this place the Ensign Don Joseph de Payba Basconzelos passed by, in the year in which he hold at his expenses the Kingdom Council, on the 18th of February 1726

Below: the Waterfalls of Shoshone in Idaho, 1868. These waterfalls, today next to the Twin Falls, are 64 mt high (210 ft)  and run through a wall over 300 mt wide (980 ft)

Below: Oak Grove, White Mountains, Sierra Blanca, Arizona in 1873

Below: rock formations in the Washakie Badlands in Wyoming, 1872. A person of a group was included in the picture at the bottom on the right to show the full scale of the rock

Below: Cathedral Mesa , Colorado River, Arizona, 1871

Below: Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah, 1869. On the lower right there is a small man and a horse next to a bridge

Below: Alta city, Little Cottonwood, Utah,  1873 circa

Maiman, Indian Mojave, guide and interpreter during part of the walk of the group in Colorado, 1871

Below: Santa Fe, New Mexico – 1873

Below: Pagosa Hot Spring, Colorado – 1874

Below: The “Nettie”, a boat in the Truckee river in Nevada – 1867

Below: Canyon of Lodore, Colorado – 1872

Below: Indian Navajo. Next to the old Fort Defiance, New Mexico – 1873

Below: Green and Yampah Canyons, Utah – 1872

Below: native Americans from the Paiute tribe, men women and children sit or are standing, queuing  underneath a tree next to Cottonwood Springs (Washoe County), in Nevada – 1875

Below: in the North of the plateau of Colorado river  – 1872

Below: the Canyon de Chelly, with rocks going all the way up top 300 mt (980 ft)  in Arizona – 1873

Below: Timothy O’Sullivan take a picture of the miners of the Savage, the mine caves Gould and Curry in Comstock Lode, Nevada – 1867

Below: a slope balanced with wood used for gold extraction, at a mine cave of Illinois in Pahranagat, Nevada – 1871

Below: Gold Hill, South Virginia City, Nevada – 1867

Below:  the wagon  with Timothy’s darkroom, pulled by mules, right side of the picture. The footprints show the direction that the photographer took. Picture taken in 1867 in Carson Sink, Carson desert in Nevada

Below: Colorado river, on the border with the Mohave’s county, Arizona. Clark County, Nevada – 1871

Below: Shoshone waterfalls, Idaho. The picture shows the peak of the waterfalls – 1874

Below: crew from the “Picture” expedition to Diamond Creek. Timothy O’Sulliv is the forth from the left, with other members of the group as well as some natives. Picture taken after the climb back from the Colorado river through the Black Canyon – 1871

Below: Old Mission Church, Zuni Pueblo, New Messico. View from the city square – 1873

Below: panoramic view of “Camp Beauty” amongst rock towers and the Canyon National Monument, in Arizona. 1873

Below: the pyramid and the domes, series of tuff rocks in the Pyramid Lake, Nevada – 1867

Below: members of the team Fortresseth Parallel Survey of Clarence King, around Oreana,  Nevada – 1867

Below: the twin rocks near Green River City,  Wyoming – 1872

Below: Indian group Pah-Ute (Paiute), near Cedar, Utah – 1872

Below: Browns Park, Colorado – 1872

Public domain pictures

Matteo Rubboli

I am a publisher specialised in the digital distribution of culture and founder of the portal Vanilla Magazine. I don't wear a tie or branded clothes, I keep my hair short so I don't have to comb it. That's not my fault but just the way I've been drawn as...

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