Scenes From the American West, 150 Years Ago

In the late 1860s, photographer Andrew J. Russell traveled west to document the construction of the Union Pacific Railway in Wyoming and Utah, including the famous “golden spike” moment on May 10, 1869, when the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads were joined in Promontory, Utah, creating the nation’s first transcontinental railroad. Russell captured images of the railway construction as well as the wide-open landscape of the American West and its inhabitants. See also, a previous photo essay from Timothy O’Sullivan, covering similar territory at the time.

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

Most Recent

  • Luis Robayo / AFP / Getty

    Fleeing Venezuela’s Crushing Economic Crisis

    Hyperinflation, rationing, shortages of power, water, and medicine, low wages, lack of jobs, and years of a worsening crisis have driven hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans to leave their ailing country behind.

  • Libor Hajsky / Reuters

    Photos: 50 Years Since a Soviet Invasion Ended the Prague Spring

    In August 1968, the Soviet Union sent 2,000 tanks and thousands of Warsaw Pact troops into Czechoslovakia to seize control and put down its growing pro-democratic government.

  • Robert F. Bukaty / AP

    Photos of the Week: Sun Biter, Solar Probe, Belgian Bovines

    Flowers carpet Brussels, a farewell is bid to Aretha Franklin, abandoned share bikes find homes in Germany, a cardboard Viking church collapses in Liverpool, a bridge collapses in Italy, and much more.

  • Walter Iooss. Jr. / Getty

    Photos: The Queen of Soul's Amazing Career

    A collection of images of Aretha Franklin’s incredible life of performance, spanning the past five decades.