Isaac G. Davidson - Fine Art Prints of Historical Photos

Isaac G. Davidson - Fine Art Prints of Historical Photos

It's unlikely that Isaac Grundy Davidson was himself a photographer, but in 18 months from 1877 to 1878 he propelled a small Portland studio to the highest volume photography operation in Oregon. Prior to entering the photography business he'd been an accountant for one of Portland's largest printing shops.

Initially he partnered with his brother John, and their imprints bore the name of Davidson Brothers, but soon he bought out his brother and most of the imprints we see today say simply "I. G. Davidson".

Davidson hired many of the best photographers of his time, including Andrew Wulzen in August of 1878. Wulzen had earlier worked for Carleton Watkins and proceeded to shoot for Davidson many of the same Columbia River views popularized by Watkins in his 1867 series. The next five years were the peak sales for boudoir size views, and according to Thomas Robinson, Davidson "produced one of the finest series in Oregon".

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  1. A Young Chinese Man from Portland - Isaac G. Davidson

    A Young Chinese Man from Portland - 1877

    This image was captured in the late 1870s - a time of growth for the Chinese community in Portland. The city's Chinese population increased from about 700 in 1870 to about 2500 in 1880. Learn More
  2. Beginning the Uppercut - Isaac G. Davidson

    Beginning the Uppercut - circa 1885

    This logging photo is a bit older than most, and is recreated from a boudoir card image printed and sold by Isaac G. Davidson - who at the time had arguably the largest photo business in Oregon. Learn More
  3. Big Rock Cut, Above Cabinet, Northern Pacific Railroad - Davidson

    Big Rock Cut, Above Cabinet, Northern Pacific Railroad - c. 1882

    This view of railroad construction was captured by Davidson as Northern Pacific's transcontinental line neared completion. (It was opened in 1883.) Learn More
  4. Blockhouse at Upper Cascades, Columbia River - Davidson

    Blockhouse at Upper Cascades, Columbia River - c. 1885

    Built in 1856, this blockhouse was only used for a few years but lasted for decades afterwards. The Cascades were a strategic military site during unrest between early settlers and the Native American inhabitants. Learn More
  5. Bridal Veil Bluffs, Columbia Gorge - Davidson

    Bridal Veil Bluffs, Columbia Gorge - 1880s

    The Bridal Veil Bluffs and the Pillars of Hercules are adjoining basalt formations in the Columbia Gorge. Learn More
  6. Cape Horn, Columbia River - Near View - Davidson

    Cape Horn, Columbia River - Near View - 1870s

    This near view of Cape Horn shows several small waterfalls amid the pinnacles. Learn More
  7. Castle Rock from Oregon Side - Davidson

    Castle Rock from the Oregon Side - 1880s

    An unusual view of Castle Rock (now Beacon Rock) from across the Columbia River. Learn More
  8. Castle Rock, Near View - Davidson

    Castle Rock, Columbia River, Near View - c. 1878

    Now known as Beacon Rock, this striking feature is located near Skamamia on the northern side of the Columbia. Learn More
  9. Fish Wheel, Near Bradford's Island, Columbia River - Isaac G. Davidson

    Fish Wheel, Near Bradford's Island, Columbia River - c. 1880

    This photo shows an early fish wheel on the Columbia River, near Bradford's Island, which is now submerged behind Bonneville Dam. Learn More
  10. Fort Canby, Showing Cannonballs - Davidson

    Fort Canby, Showing Cannonballs - c. 1885

    This view of Fort Canby in southern Washington gets close enough to show an intriguing detail -- cannonballs used as yard ornaments. Learn More
  11. Fort Canby, Washington Territory - Davidson

    Fort Canby, Washington Territory - 1880s

    Fort Canby at Cape Disappointment, on the Washington Territory side of the mouth of the Columbia River. Learn More
  12. Hallett's Hades, Midway Gibraltar Rock - Davidson

    Hallett's Hades, Midway Gibraltar Rock - c. 1880

    Hallett's Hades was a point about 12 miles west of The Dalles, where the railroad tracks passed close to the edge of a cliff, part of which had been blown off in their construction. Learn More
  13. Ladies Hall at Pacific University - Davidson

    Ladies Hall at Pacific University - c. 1885

    Ladies Hall is the ornate building on the right - the first dormitory at Pacific University - completed in 1882. Learn More
  14. Latourelle Falls in the Winter - Davidson

    Latourelle Falls in the Winter - c. 1885

    Early photographers in Oregon were as fascinated as today's camera buffs by frozen waterfalls in the Columbia Gorge. Learn More
  15. Latourelle Falls, near Rooster Rock - Davidson

    Latourelle Falls, near Rooster Rock - 1880s

    Latourelle Falls was often photographed, but each artist had his own approach. This view is all about sunlight. Learn More
  16. Light Battery, Fort Stevens - Davidson

    Light Battery, Fort Stevens - 1880s

    The Light Battery training at Fort Stevens, near Astoria on the Oregon coast. Learn More
  17. Marent Trestle, Height 226 Feet, Highest Trestle on NPRR - Davidson

    Marent Trestle, Height 226 Feet, Highest Trestle on NPRR - c. 1883

    This wooden trestle, completed in 1883, was short-lived, replaced by an iron trestle in 1884 - 1885. Learn More
  18. Mt. Shasta - Davidson

    Mount Shasta - c. 1888

    I. G. Davidson's 1880s view of Mt. Shasta, showing an early ranch and perhaps a hotel to the right. Learn More
  19. Mt. Hood from Portland, Oregon - Davidson

    Mt. Hood from Portland, Oregon - c. 1855

    This is a photograph by Davidson, made about 1888, of a painting by an unknown artist dating from about 1855. Davidson created a number of scenic boudoir cards that were photos of paintings from earlier decades. Learn More
  20. Multnomah Falls Before the Timber Bridge - Isaac G. Davidson

    Multnomah Falls Before the Timber Bridge - c. 1880

    Most photos of Multnomah Falls without a bridge were taken after the old timber bridge was removed but before construction of the current concrete bridge. Learn More
  21. Multnomah Falls Timber Bridge, before Reinforcements - Davidson

    Multnomah Falls Timber Bridge, before Reinforcements - c. 1883

    The first timber bridge at Multnomah Falls stands unoccupied in this view published by I. G. Davidson shortly after the bridge's completion, in about 1883. Learn More
  22. New Bridge Across the Sandy River - Davidson

    New Bridge Across the Sandy River - c. 1883

    The new bridge for the O. R. & N. Company, across the Sandy River east of Portland on the way to the Columbia Gorge. Learn More
  23. Officers' Quarters, Fort Stevens, Oregon - Davidson

    Officers' Quarters, Fort Canby - c. 1885

    Three girls grace the front porch and a couple more children peer from the second-story window, in this view of military officers' housing in southern Washington 125 years ago. Learn More
  24. Oldest Bell Tower in America - Davidson

    Oldest Bell Tower in America - 1889

    This is St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Tacoma, Washington. Its "oldest bell tower in America" is a cut-off tree that was already over 300 years old when the church was built in 1873. Learn More
  25. Oneonta Gorge at High Water - Davidson

    Oneonta Gorge at Low Water - 1880s

    A half-mile walk up the creek (read "in the creek") from Oneonta Bridge you'll find this spectacular gorge. Learn More
  26. Overview of Central Portland and East Portland - Davidson

    Overview of Central Portland and East Portland - c. 1887

    This early overview of Portland shows both sides of the Willamette, shortly before electric power lines began to line city streets. About a third of the way up are the Park Blocks, with their newly planted trees. Learn More
  27. Rooster Rock, from O. R. & N. - Davidson

    Rooster Rock, from O. R. & N. Railroad - 1880s

    When the railroad was completed from Portland to the Dalles in 1882, it gave photographers easier access to scenes like this. Learn More
  28. Rooster Rock, View from the River - Davidson

    Rooster Rock, View from the Columbia River - 1880s

    This view of Rooster Rock from the Columbia River side shows choppy water in the foreground and towering bluffs in the background. Learn More
  29. Sam Song Bo, Ministry Student, McMinnville College - Davidson

    Sam Song Bo, Ministry Student, McMinnville College - 1877

    Sam Song Bo, who was Chinese, was sponsored by the Baptist Home Mission in Portland to attend McMinnville College to study for the ministry. Learn More
  30. Spokane Falls and the Town - Davidson

    Spokane Falls and the Town - 1880s

    A well-framed view of Spokane Falls and the new town just beginning on the opposite bank. Learn More
  31. The First Morrison Bridge, Portland - Davidson

    The First Morrison Bridge, Portland - c. 1888

    The Morrison Bridge was Portland's first bridge across the Willamette, completed in 1887, about a year before this photo was created. At its opening, it was the longest bridge west of the Mississippi. Learn More
  32. Tillamook Rock & Light House - Davidson

    Tillamook Rock & Light House - 1880s

    Tillamook Rock and Lighthouse, 19 miles south of the Columbia River bar. Learn More
  33. Two Cultures at Willamette Falls - Davidson

    Two Cultures at Willamette Falls - c. 1880

    Willamette Falls on a cloudy day in the early 1880s is visited by fishermen from two cultures. Learn More
  34. Upper Cape Horn, O. R. & N. - Davidson

    Upper Cape Horn, O. R. & N. - c. 1880

    Sun and shadows add to the drama of this view of the Oregon Railway and Navigation Company's tracks, as they pass one of many named rock formations in the Columbia Gorge. Learn More
  35. Vancouver Barracks, Parade Grounds with Cannons - Davidson

    Vancouver Barracks, Parade Grounds with Cannons - c. 1880

    Vancouver Barracks is but one name given to the U.S. military installation in Vancouver, Washington, adjacent to the old British Fort Vancouver. Learn More
  36. View from Cabinet Rapids Down Clark's Fork - Isaac G Davidson

    View from Cabinet Rapids Down Clark's Fork - c. 1882

    This early view was captured in about 1882 by Davidson when his photographers were completing a series illustrating the construction of the Northern Pacific Railroad. Learn More
  37. View of Columbia River from Blockhouse at Upper Cascades - Davidson

    View of Columbia River from Blockhouse at Upper Cascades - c. 1885

    A companion photo to Davidson's "Blockhouse at Upper Cascades", this view looks down the Columbia from the blockhouse located on a small hill. Learn More
  38. Willamette Falls Locks - Davidson

    Willamette Falls Locks - circa 1880

    This view is reproduced from a boudoir card published by Isaac G. Davidson in about 1880, a few years after the locks were opened. The locks themselves are not a lot different than they are today. Learn More
  39. Victorian Woman with Cropped Hair - Davidson

    Young Victorian Woman with Cropped Hair - 1887

    Portrait of Blanche Webster Yeomans, taken in January 1887, shortly after her marriage. Learn More

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