Cover image for Sights once seen : daguerreotyping Frémont's last expedition through the Rockies
Sights once seen : daguerreotyping Frémont's last expedition through the Rockies
Shlaer, Robert.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Santa Fe : Museum of New Mexico Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
x, 165 pages : illustrations (some color), maps ; 24 x 29 cm

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
TR365 .S48 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize

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Little is known about the fifth and last western expedition of the celebrated explorer John Charles Frémont. The great effort to survey a transcontinental railway route across the 38th parallel ended short of success in the snows of Utah in 1854 but involved a meticulous photographic documentation -- in daguerreotypes -- of the route from the Mississippi westward. It was believed that a central railroad across the country would favour abolitionists in the great debate then raging in the country over slavery. Solomon Nunes Carvalho was hired by Frémont to photograph the expedition -- the first time a western expeditionary survey had been systematically documented in photographs. Tragically, the daguerreotypes were destroyed by fire, and Frémont's fifth expedition was lost to history. Author and daguerreotypist Robert Shlaer remarkably has reconstructed the expedition in 120 original daguerreotypes. Using Frémont's maps, expedition documents, and Carvalho's diary accounts, Shlaer recreates the lost expedition across America's most breathtaking landscape using photography's first and most venerable method of daguerreotypye.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

Shlaer created this fascinating and uncommon work after becoming intrigued by the record of the last expedition of famous explorer John Fr‚mont across the Rockies and by the story of the daguerreotypist who accompanied Fr‚mont, a Jewish photographer named Solomon Carvalho. Unfortunately, Carvalho's daguerreotypes of the expedition were destroyed in a fire after the trip. Shlaer, an accomplished modern daguerreotypist, decided to re-create those lost daguerreotypes by retracing Fr‚mont's route and taking daguerreotypes at the same places Carvalho had, as best he could determine from existing knowledge. The book is very visually attractive, reproducing Shlaer's daguerreotypes along with engravings from contemporary reports on the expedition. However, Andrew Rolle's John Charles Fr‚mont: Character as Destiny (LJ 11/1/91) would still serve well as a title on Fr‚mont, and Carvalho's career will be covered in Arlene Hirschfelder's forthcoming Photo Odyssey: Solomon Carvalho's Remarkable Western Adventure, 1853-54 (Clarion, 2000). Shlaer's rather esoteric book is recommended only for history of photography or substantial Western exploration collections.--Charles V. Cowling, Drake Memorial Lib., Brockport, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.