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

  • China Daily / Reuters

    The Sichuan Giant Panda Bases and Sanctuaries

    In the mountains of China’s Sichuan Province, a network of research centers and wildlife sanctuaries has been established to support native endangered species.

  • Winners of the 2017 Epson International Pano Awards

    The eighth annual panoramic photo competition has just come to a close, and the winning images and honorable mentions have been announced.

  • Jacquelyn Martin / AP

    Photos of the Week: 11/11–11/17

    The Ministry of Fun Santa School opens for the season in England, a red fox meets a stegosaurus in Siberia, Australians vote to allow same-sex marriage, and much more.

  • R S Iyer / AP

    Delhi's Toxic Sky

    Toward the end of autumn, parts of northern India and Pakistan are frequently covered by a thick smog caused by a temperature inversion. This year is particularly bad.

Join the Discussion