William H. Jackson - Fine Art Prints of Historical Photos

William H. Jackson - Fine Art Prints of Historical Photos

Born in New York in 1843, William Henry Jackson was an artist and photographer who couldn't remember a time when he was not drawing pictures. The son of an accomplished watercolorist, he received formal artistic training at age 10 and at 15 took a job as a retoucher in a local photographic studio.

His budding career was interrupted by the Civil War, where he didn't see much action but filled sketchbooks with drawings that are still preserved today. On his return, he found employment in another photography studio, and his improving skills won him a fine salary. After a year he became engaged to a young woman from a prominent family.

When that relationship ended after a spat, the heartbroken Jackson, along with two friends, despite knowing nothing about oxen or freight, signed up as bullwhackers for a freight outfit bound for Montana. After traveling as far as California, he decided that documenting the West might indeed be his life's work, and with his father's financial assistance set up a studio in Omaha, Nebraska in 1869.

Jackson's photographs came to the attention of Dr. Ferdinand Hayden, who offered him the opportunity to document the wonders of Yellowstone as part of the Hayden expedition. The photos Jackson took became a sensation, resulting in the creation of Yellowstone National Park in 1872, as well as the beginning of Jackson's national fame.

In 1878, Jackson established a studio in Denver, which would be his base for many years. Here he returned to studio photography, but continued to document the West on his travels, including several trips to Oregon.

At the age of 81, Jackson put down his camera and picked up a paintbrush. In the next decade, Jackson completed approximately 100 paintings, mostly dealing with historic themes such as the Fur Trade, the California Gold Rush and the Oregon Trail. Jackson revisited many of the sites he depicted in his paintings so he could paint them as accurately as possible.

William H. Jackson died in 1942 at the age of 99, and was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery.

--Summarized from The Scotts Bluff National Monument website

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  1. Cascades of the Columbia and Cascade Locks - Jackson

    Cascades of the Columbia and Cascade Locks - c 1885

    We're looking over a movable fishwheel, sometimes called a fish scow, towards the Cascade Locks under construction and the town of Cascade Locks behind them. Learn More
  2. Looking Across the Columbia River from Cape Horn - Jackson

    Looking Across the Columbia River from Cape Horn - c. 1900

    Turning the tables on many photographs of Cape Horn, Jackson chooses here to use the overhanging bluff as a frame for a view back across the river towards Oregon. Learn More
  3. On the Columbia River Near Cape Horn - Jackson

    On the Columbia River Near Cape Horn - c. 1900

    This subtle view of the Columbia was created by photographer W. H. Jackson during the years he was a partner in the Detroit Photographic Company. Learn More
  4. Portland - Vancouver Ferry on the Columbia River - Jackson

    Portland - Vancouver Ferry on the Columbia River - c. 1900

    Part of a series of Columbia River photos created by Jackson on a visit to Oregon about 1900, this view provides a picturesque look at the trip from Vancouver to Portland at that time. Learn More
  5. William Henry Jackson Early Portrait - Jackson

    William Henry Jackson Early Portrait - 1860s

    A tintype studio portrait of photographer William Henry Jackson. Learn More

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