Historical Stereographic Arizona Images

More from this show

See Arizona’s history brought to life through Jeremy Rowe’s private collection of stereographic images of the Grand Canyon state.

Ted Simons: Jeremy Rowe is a photographer who also collects historic stereographic images of Arizona. The result is Arizona history from a unique visual perspective. Joining us now is Jeremy Rowe. It's good to see you again. We've got a lot of pictures to get to. Before we get going here, stereographs: You've got a historic model. What are we talking about here?

Jeremy Rowe: They are cards with two images on them, one left eye and one right eye image. By keeping the images separate and viewing them, your brain puts it together and gets a 3-D image. It was a first real popular media in the 1850s, '60s, '70s, '80s and 1890s. It gives you a really great 3-D view of reality. All of a sudden there's a 3-D photographic environment.

Ted Simons: I remember as kid we had those little things.

Jeremy Rowe: Viewmaster.

Ted Simons: Same thing, right?

Jeremy Rowe: That's the commercial version. This is the earlier 19th Century version. There are two pictures, left and right picture. The lenses, you hold them up and focus and you see the image in 3-D.

Ted Simons: That's what people were doing, huh?

Jeremy Rowe: You'd have a steroscope in the parlor, a little stack of views. If you traveled you'd send views back to your family. They would have stereo views they would exchange with friends. They would sit around the fireplace or the kerosene lamp and look. Even out in the tules here you'd find stereo views.

Ted Simons: Starting with your book, you've got a new book of a collection of these things, correct?

Jeremy Rowe: It's a history of stereo in Arizona and history from the stereo perspective. It's a blend of the two. It's 260 images, 307 pages with the story of how stereo was formed. And then a checklist of views showing where they were taken, how they were made what, they documented. Using that as a resource for looking at history a little bit differently.

Ted Simons: I think we have a cover shot of the book. I think there are a couple of guys on the cover.

Jeremy Rowe: One is Powell, who is the explorer that explored the Grand Canyon in the 1870s. I don't have the name of the other person, unfortunately. The image in the lower corner is Eaton and Bailey's Mercantile. Stereos are interesting, they were the first images made of Arizona in any mass or number. They tended to be very small cameras, very easy to carry. So they made a lot of images in places that weren't normally documented. Many of the images in Arizona history books come from stereo but nol nobody knows that. Understanding how they were made, where and why, give you more perspective to understand the content of the image.

Ted Simons: I think our next photo shows the stereographic camera, at least a historic one.

Jeremy Rowe: That's about the 1880s. They focus separately and they actually exposed separately. A good photographer would overexpose one side, underexpose the other, and your brain would make a broader tonal range for the photograph. It was a way to extend the range by using that technique.

Ted Simons: Isn't that something.

Jeremy Rowe: The camera is a 5 by 7 negative size. This slips over the lenses and has a flap that you flip up and down to make the exposure. There's a glass place you make the images on. You have to make the glass plate, pour a thick vision cuss material, colloidium. You put it in the back of the camera while it was wet, expose it, dry it, pack it before you left. You had to have all the material with you in the field.

Ted Simons: Our next photograph shows I think from the Powell expedition. We see the guy out there and he's got a lot of stuff that must have been quite the burden to be carrying around.

Jeremy Rowe: At least 150 pounds, 175 pounds, even for 12 images. You could scrape off the emulsion but if you drop the glad place that, image was gone. If there was a burrow stumble or a horse dropped a box, use lose it. You had to process before the colloidium dried. It was a fairly long exposure time and fairly long time to do the processing. In Arizona where it was dry and hot, it dried very quickly. You had to carry water with you, process very quickly, you were in a little dark tent in the sun baking as you're trying to do this. You worked with gun cotton and ether.

Ted Simons: A psychedelic experience. I think the earliest photo you've shown us is this next one of Papago warriors.

Jeremy Rowe: They were taken to deal with the Navajo. The Anglo population used some of the tribes against each other to moderate the area. The Navajo in the North were moved to Bosc Redondo.

Ted Simons: You're talking 1865.

Jeremy Rowe: Right. This was just after the Civil War cleared. During the civil war a lot of the military was pulled out of Arizona so it was very dangerous, not a lot of people were here. As the war wore down soldiers came back in and people came back. This was one of the mining Universities the soldiers came back to.

Ted Simons: This is on the San Carlos reservation. The photographer is Dudley Flanders.

Jeremy Rowe: Dudley P. Flanders. He was one of the first to come to Arizona to make images to sell. He was a transfer from Los Angeles and he came across through Kingman, down to Prescott, cross into the Verde Valley, there was until in Phoenix at that point. Maricopa Wells was the biggest stop on the route to Tucson.

Ted Simons: Our next photograph is of Congress Street. We are looking west here and oh, does that look different.

Jeremy Rowe: Very typical western town, false front buildings. There's a mortar and pestle in the back for the pharmacy. One of two studios in the territory was in Tucson, one in Prescott, one in Tucson.

Ted Simons: Look at this. The next photograph is interesting, as well. Because it's in Yuma, it's a steam barge and these things actually went inland in Arizona, correct?

Jeremy Rowe: They went up the Colorado and down the Gila and carried a lot of mining equipment during that time period before the railway was in place. In the background you can barely see it, but that was the railway bridge just completed in the back. That drove the stake through the heart of the poor steamers.

Ted Simons: Circa 1881 or so, and vulture city was larger than Phoenix when this photograph was taken.

Jeremy Rowe: Early 1880s, a very rich mine South of Wickenburg. This has some of the res due from being hot. You can see the mottling in the sky, that's the colloidium having problems with the heat.

Ted Simons: The corner of Washington and Montezuma street.

Jeremy Rowe: About Fourth Avenue roughly.

Ted Simons: Where is Montezuma street, Fourth Avenue, huh? And that's Washington?

Jeremy Rowe: That's the northeast corner, I believe. The business was only there for about two years. They are really great documents because there are businesses that came and went, things that transitioned and changed. They were only there for a very short time. You can see in detail in the viewer, the name of the business on the side and back to the city directory, find the years of operation and nail down when this was taken.

Ted Simons: That's fantastic. We have Apache artifacts from the Globe area. This American Indian stuff very big back east, these artifacts and things.

Jeremy Rowe: They used the stereoview to try and sell the collection in Massachusetts. They sent the card to Massachusetts. It's all Apache material.

Ted Simons: That's the real deal there, huh. If you're up on Tempe Butte and looking toward Phoenix these days, it looks a lot different than this.

Jeremy Rowe: This is about 1885 looking towards Phoenix. The new railway bridge is in place. This is where Hayden's ferry was and the mill, Payden's mill is in the corner just below.

Ted Simons: That's Monty's over there, and that's the Hayden flour mill just below. Unbelievable. Somewhere in the distance in the future would be Phoenix. Speaking of towns, Tombstone, I think we got a shot of a parade in Tombstone. It was already becoming a tourist town by the early 1900s.

Jeremy Rowe: The silver mines were very wealthy for a period of time but the water was flowingent mines and it was very difficult for them to continue. They were transitioning from a mining community to something else. This was the modoch stage, the famous historic stagecoach used for parades and a variety of reunions and things to gear up tourism there.

Ted Simons: I want to end on just a fantastic shot of the Grand Canyon. Partially it's hand colored, correct? Look what he's doing. Where's the safety precaution here?

Jeremy Rowe: Pre-OSHA and the safety factors at the canyon. They would hand color these with oils or watercolors on occasion. The coloring is beautiful. Trying to do something dynamic. This is sort of a later view. The earliest images were the Grand Canyon surveys, and then you go sort of full circle to the 1920s and 30s and the canyon was still a very popular subject. You see drugstore cowboys posed on the edge.

Ted Simons: And hand colored.

Jeremy Rowe: If there's a difference in the colors, there was a little bit of a flicker in the viewer.

Ted Simons: How many more of these things are out there?

Jeremy Rowe: It's really hard to say. They thought there were two or 300 Arizona stereos total. I've got 4,000 titles I've pulled together so far. There are maybe 10,000 views out there, as a rough guess. Arizona was a difficult place to photograph and not heavily photographed during this era.

Ted Simons: We've got about a minute left here. This sound like a labor of love. Why do you do this?

Jeremy Rowe: I found a couple of photographs at a park and swap a couple of years ag,o, and that sort of set the hook. How they were taken, what they mean. You start to pull more and more of the story out of the photographs and it's a lot of fun. We're doing a meeting about stereo research and stereo photography, August 30th, 1:30 in the afternoon at Art Intersection in Gilbert. We'll have vintage views and contemporary views, and a digital 3-D camera that you can view on your TV set or iPad or others.

Ted Simons: Jeremy, always a pleasure, great stuff.

Jeremy Rowe: Thank you very much.

Jeremy Rowe:Historical Photography Collector;

A graphic for the Arizona PBS news show,
airs April 27

New and local

Illustration of columns of a capitol building with text reading: Arizona PBS AZ Votes 2024

Arizona PBS presents candidate debates

Earth Day Challenge graphic with the Arizona PBS logo and an illustration of the earth

Help us meet the Earth Day Challenge!

Graphic for the AZPBS kids LEARN! Writing Contest with a child sitting in a chair writing on a table and text reading: The Ultimate Field Trip
May 12

Submit your entry for the 2024 Writing Contest

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters

STAY in touch
with azpbs.org!

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters: