Jeremy Rowe’s Arizona Photos

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Jeremy Rowe’s vintage Arizona photos bring our state’s history to life. Take a look at more of Rowe’s photos as he talks through their historical significance.

Ted Simons: Arizona celebrated it's 101s birthday last week. And tonight, we look through some remarkable photos and images of Arizona's past, courtesy of historian Jeremy Rowe, the owner of And it is good to see you again, and I want to thank you to letting us use your images throughout the year on "Arizona Horizon" as we have the bumpers and separators there. It's really good stuff. Where do you get this stuff?

Jeremy Rowe: I've been collecting for a little over 30 years, and antiques stores, friends, and trade shows, advertising, e-bay, all the sources, and over time, you sort clustering things together and getting stories between the images as they form patterns as you find more information about the images and the photographers.

Ted Simons: Is it, is it as much investigate as it is just serendipity?

Jeremy Rowe: Serendipity is a big one. The luck of what you find and what you can identify and what somebody else recognizes and identifies correctly so you can put pull it back, same as if you are in a museum or an archive, if you can find it, and try to identify it and find the story behind it.

Ted Simons: Let's take a look at some of these images. I want it start with paper documents, the first is this territorial appointment, and this is fascinating stuff. And talk to us about this.

Jeremy Rowe: This is from the state library and archives, fountain at the Arizona historical foundation in the files a couple of years ago, it had been missing, and this is a, a document that helped to establish Arizona as a territory, from the time that Arizona started, Arizona and New Mexico were joined and there's interest in forming a state, this is a document that establish the Arizona territory in 1860.

Ted Simons: And this one we're looking at is Abraham Lincoln's signature on the top. That was signed by Lincoln because is it true that the territory, the area seceded?

Jeremy Rowe: We were a confederate territory first, last week was the 151st anniversary of the territory of Arizona, as well. So, February 14th, the same day as we were assigned, the document signed making us a state, we were also a confederate territory prior to that, and that's, that document made us a union territory.

Ted Simons: That led the union to say, enough of that, and let's --

Jeremy Rowe: There is a battle between slave holding states and non slave holding states, Arizona was going to be a slave-holding state. The other direction was a union holding state.

Ted Simons: There is a Steamboat expedition of the Colorado river, and this, we're talking like 1857, that's a proclamation there now, and --


Jeremy Rowe: And this establishes the Governor and building the enterprise for the state or the territory at that point to make the territory viable.

Ted Simons: Ok. We have the Steamboat there because it is going up to Colorado and we don't want to miss it. We'll get to it.

Jeremy Rowe: Right, the Steamboat is, from the Ives expedition, after the Gadsen purchase there was interest to find out what was happening in Arizona and getting a story of the territory, mapping it and figuring out what opportunities there, and this was a Steamboat that went up the Colorado river to the grand canyon, and the illustrations from this are the first images that people see of the territory. First time people had seen the native population here, and this is the saguaro cacti, that's an example of the kind of artistic license that was used during that time. With the 60-foot tall cacti and the elaborate look and feel there and the exploding ends on the cactus when they die and one in the back corner.

Ted Simons: So if I'm an easterner and I'm hearing about the wild Arizona and look at this photo, or this visual, and I'm thinking, it's crazy out there. That's like another planet.

Jeremy Rowe: You could see the pyramids in Egypt. The same. These are, this is the same experience people had of a new, unique area, and it fascinated people. And photography wasn't active in Arizona. There were no images that show up until the 1960s, and the 1970s when necessity pick up, so most of the representations you see are elaborate, and they are, they are, they have an artistic license, they are not as accurate which causes the issues with how Arizona was seen during that time.

Ted Simons: Right. And that's some of the tallest cactus that they could imagine. And they put people in there to make a scale.

Jeremy Rowe:Exactly.

Ted Simons: Our next shot here, this, now, it strikes me that when you talk 1865, you are not going to get much earlier in the way of photographer of Arizona than this?

Jeremy Rowe: There were photographs made in California but in Arizona, this is the earliest one that I could find. This is the fall of 1864, January 1865. These are the Papago warriors that were coming back to the territory. This is made by a gentleman that was on an exploratory expedition who happened to be a photographer, and these are -- I have got some in my collection, and a couple in the collection in Berkeley, as well, but, images of Arizona, fascinating view of what life was like and the way that people dressed.

Ted Simons: And stereo phonic, too. They started with advance technology.

Jeremy Rowe: And the stereo is the most common format. Most people don't know it's the most common format for early Arizona images, a popular one for photographers because it was easy to use, and light, fast exposure, and a market for the images so a lot of the images that you see were made in stereo, but they only reproduced one side so one of my, my sort of banners that I carry, trying to get stereo, and the photography, recognized for the importance, and I'm finishing up a book on that now that will hopefully be out soon.

Ted Simons: Very good, and our next photograph is from 1880 or so, this is Yuma, and it shows a, a Steamboat, I believe, in the lower left-hand side there.

Jeremy Rowe: Yuma was one of the biggest areas as far as traffic during this early time period. And people were sending things from California around Baja up to, to Yuma and up the Gila river into the central part so if you were doing a mine or a development, you need it bring things across into the territory, you could not just go across from Los Angeles the way that they do now, it was a more difficult practice. And the Steamboats were very, very highly sought and important during that time. And this shows the Steamboat, dry dock and the adobe buildings and the simple layout of Yuma at that time.

Ted Simons: And that's Yuma?

Jeremy Rowe: Yes.

Ted Simons: Back in the 1880s, and our next shot is of a railroad bridge, Sam area, and this is fascinating because it just -- these are native Americans watching what's going on here.

Jeremy Rowe: Right, and probably helping --

Ted Simons: Right.

Jeremy Rowe: And the railway was coming across, that was competing with the Steamboats, they had a monopoly and the railroad pushed across and reached Yuma, and this is the construction of the bridge, this is a purchase, that's a blueprint made with iron instead of silver and was a popular process for people to use. But they are very rare and hard to find from this era. From Arizona. But, this is the Yuma tribe, watching the construction and gives an idea how it was done.

Ted Simons: Fascinating stuff. And you mentioned silver, the silver mine in the Santa rita mountains south of Tucson. We have another stereograph image from 1878, my goodness.

Jeremy Rowe: This is the party left from you came across. They were following the mines and mining was a big deal in Arizona, very popular activity. And people were looking to invest here, and they want to see what the mines looked like and get a feel for what the environment was like and what the mine works looked like and the money was going towards.

Ted Simons: Last, we have fort McDowell, and I found it fascinating and I still find it fascinating. Fort McDowell was here before Phoenix was established to serve -- Phoenix was established to support fort McDowell.

Jeremy Rowe: Jack Swelling put the canals together to raise alfalfa and material for the fort, which was established in 1868 to protect the center part of the state.

Ted Simons: And these are fascinating images. We need to get you back because you have so much more and we appreciate your help on "Arizona Horizon." Good to see you and thanks for joining us.

Jeremy Rowe: Ok.

Jeremy Rowe

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