The American West, 150 Years Ago

In the 1860s and 70s, photographer Timothy O'Sullivan created some of the best-known images in American History. After covering the U.S. Civil War, (many of his photos appear in this earlier series), O'Sullivan joined a number of expeditions organized by the federal government to help document the new frontiers in the American West. The teams were composed of soldiers, scientists, artists, and photographers, and tasked with discovering the best ways to take advantage of the region's untapped natural resources. O'Sullivan brought an amazing eye and work ethic, composing photographs that evoked the vastness of the West. He also documented the Native American population as well as the pioneers who were already altering the landscape. Above all, O'Sullivan captured -- for the first time on film -- the natural beauty of the American West in a way that would later influence Ansel Adams and thousands more photographers to come.

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • Damir Sagolj / Reuters

    North Korea Marks 70 Years of Workers’ Party Rule

    Over the weekend, reclusive North Korea held a massive military parade and numerous other mass performances to commemorate the 70th anniversary of its ruling Workers’ Party, inviting foreign media to cover the event in Pyongyang.

  • Stefano Cerio

    The Empty Chinese Amusement Park

    What happens when the crowds go home?

  • Jonathan Alpeyrie

    The Last Jews of Cuba

    “To be Cuban and Jewish is to be twice survivors.”

  • Kerstin Joensson / AP

    Photos of the Week: 10/3-10/9

    A sandstorm in Egypt, flooding in South Carolina, the release of a black-footed ferret, an Israeli spacecraft, hazy skies in Indonesia, a volcanic eruption near Quito, a massive traffic jam near Beijing, and much more.

Join the Discussion