Historical Stereographic Arizona Images

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

Ted Simons: We wrap up our look at Arizona history with an unusual view of the state's past. Jeremy Rowe is a photographer who also collects historic stereographic images of the state. The result is Arizona history from a unique visual perspective. It's good to see you again, we have a lot of pictures to get to but before we get going here, stereographic. You have got like a historic model. What are we talking about here?

Jeremy Rowe: They are cards with two images, I will show you those in a few minutes with two images, one left and right eye image and by keeping them separated and viewing them so the left eye sees the left and right sees the right one your brain puts it together and gives it a 3-D image. It was the first popular media in the 19th century in the 1950s and 1960s and 1980s and 1990s and gives you an immersive 3-D view of reality. It's amazing to think of people that have never seen anything but pictures on the wall and all of us have an immersive 3-D environment.

Ted Simons: As a kid we had those things. The Viewmaster, same I think this, right?

Jeremy Rowe: Right.

Jeremy Rowe: So this is the earlier 19th century version, and there are two pictures, left and right picture, and there are two lenses, left and right, and you can hold them up, focus, and you can see the image in 3-D.

Ted Simons: And that's what people are going to get a hold of and doing. Basically --

Jeremy Rowe: You would have a stereoscope and views, if you traveled, you would send views back to your family and they would have stereo views that they would exchange with friends and people would come over and sit around the fireplace or the kerosene lamp and look at views. Even in places like Arizona in the areas here.

Ted Simons: Let's talk about Arizona. Start with your book. You have a new book of a collection of these things, correct?

Jeremy Rowe: It's the history of the stereo in Arizona and history Arizona from a stereo perspective so it's a blend of the two, it's 260 images, 307 pages with the story of how stereo was formed, and different people that named the photographs, the photographers and biographies and a checklist of views showing where they were taken and how they were made and what they documented, and using that as a resource for looking at history a bit differently.

Ted Simons: And we have a cover shot of the book. There was a couple guys on the cover. Who are these fellas.

Jeremy Rowe: One is Powell, who is the explorer that explored the Grand Canyon in the 1970s, and I don't have the name of the other person, unfortunately. The image in the lower corner is the Mercantile, and stereos are the first images made of Arizona in any mass or number, and they tended to be very small cameras, easy to carry cameras, and so they made a lot of images in places that were not normally documented, and many of the images you see, come from stereo but nobody knows that.

Ted Simons: Interesting.

Jeremy Rowe: So they have been taken from one side, and as opposed to egg is a the stereo, so how and where and why they were made gives you a perspective to understand the content of the image.

Ted Simons: And the next photo shows the camera, the historic one --

Jeremy Rowe: The 1980s.

Jeremy Rowe: And the camera has the two lenses as you see, and they focus separately, and they, a good photographer would overexpose one side, underexpose the other slightly because your brain would take the detail from one and detail from the other and put them together and make a broader tonal range for the photograph so as a way to make the limited range extended by using that technique, and the camera does it on a 5 by 7 negative size, the thing with the circles is a shutter, this slips over the lens as a flap that you flip up and down to make the exposure, and then the piece in the back is a plate holder with a plate you make the images on and you have to make an original negative for each image and make the plate a colodian which is a thick discus material, and sensitize the plate and put it in the back of the camera while wet, expose it, process it, dry it, pack it before you can go back and each negative had to have its own glass plate, carry all the material with you.

Ted Simons: And I want to ask you because the next photograph shows, I think, from the Powell expedition, and we see the guy, and he's got a lot of stuff, and that must have been quite the burden to be carrying you around.

Jeremy Rowe: At least 150 pounds, and maybe 175 pounds for 12 images, and even if you are doing very small numbers of images, you could scrape it off and reuse the plate but also if you drop it, that image was gone, so there is stories of photographers who worked in the field and had a horse drop a box and lost it for a period of time. They called the process a wet plate because you had to process it before it dried and in places like the east coast, where it was humid, it was fairly long exposure time and a long time to be able to do the processing, and in Arizona it was dry and hot, it dried quickly. Once it dries the negative is not usable, so you had to carry water with you. You had to process it quickly. You were in a dark tent in the sun, as you are trying to do this and working with ethers so you had the vapors coming in. So it's a very rigorous process.

Ted Simons: Psychedelic experience. The early photo now, at least you have shown us, is the next one, papago warriors.

Jeremy Rowe: Secret, they were taken from the southern part of the state to the northeastern part of the state to deal with the Navajo, the Anglo population used the tribes against each other, some of the tribal factions to moderate the areas, so the Navajo and the north were moved, and the Papago warriors helped to package and move the Navajo from northeastern Arizona into New Mexico, and --

Ted Simons: You are talking 1865.

Jeremy Rowe: Right.

Jeremy Rowe: This is 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, and not a lot of people were here. As the war, war down, the soldiers came back in and the Apaches were put back and people came back. This is one of the mining communities in southern Arizona, that the explorers came back to.

Ted Simons: And next photograph is on the San Carlos reservation, the photographer is Dudley Flanders.

Ted Simons: Dudley P. Flanders.

Jeremy Rowe: Excuse me, he was one of the first people to make images to sell, this is 1874, he was a photographer from Los Angeles, and he made an expedition, came across through Kingman, the springs, down to prescott, across from the verde valley, and there was nothing in Phoenix at that point, Maricopa wells is the biggest stop on the route.

Ted Simons: Yes.

Jeremy Rowe: To Tucson, and then photographed in St. Carlos.

Ted Simons: You mentioned Tucson, the next, of the Congress, if you are familiar with Congress street, we are looking west here, and oh, does that look different.

Jeremy Rowe: Yep. Very typical of the western town, false front buildings, hard to see in this but there is a mortar in the back for the pharmacy. One of the two studios in the territory during this time was in Tucson, one was in pregnant and the other in Tucson, and that was a nexus where they would produce the photographs during that time.

Ted Simons: Look at that, and the next photograph is interesting, as well because it's in Yuma, and it's a steam barge, and these things, actually, went inland in Arizona.

Jeremy Rowe: They went up the Colorado and down the gila and carried the mining equipment before the railway was in place. This is interesting because in the background you can barely see it but that's the railway bridge just completed in the back.

Jeremy Rowe: And it drove the stake through the heart of the paddle wheel steamers.

Ted Simons: The future and the past right there in one shot. And Wickenburg, circa 1881, and vulture city was larger than Phoenix when this photograph was taken.

Jeremy Rowe: Right, early 1880's. This is a rich mine south of Wickenburg. You can see also this has some of the residue from being hot. You can see the modeling in the sky, they were having problem with the heat here, this was shot during the time it was so hot that you can see a different exposure between the two sides of the image, as well.

Ted Simons: Ok, next shot is of downtown Phoenix, the corner of Washington and Montazuma Street.

Ted Simons: Where is Montazuma street?

Ted Simons: That's the northeast corner, I believe. the business was there for two years, and these photographs are great documents because they are businesses that came and went and things that transitioned and changed, only there for a short period of time, and this is the only record that really shows what's going on and you can see in detail, you can see the business, the city director, and nail down when this was taken.

Ted Simons: And we have some Apache artifacts from the globe area, and interesting, what you wrote in the sense of the American indian stuff very big back east. These artifacts and things.

Jeremy Rowe: This is a collection, they used the view to sell it to a collector in Massachusetts so they brought the material in, and photographed it in globe, and sent the card to Massachusetts.

Ted Simons: Yeah.

Jeremy Rowe: It's all Apache material. There is --

Ted Simons: That's the real deal there.

Jeremy Rowe: Yeah.

Ted Simons: And speaking of that, if you are on Tempe Butte, it looks a lot different than this.

Jeremy Rowe: It is different than this.

Jeremy Rowe: This is about 1885, looking towards Phoenix, and the new railway bridge is in place, and this is where Hayden's ferry was when they would cross the salt river using the boat. And Haydensville is in the corner just below, and this is the building that turned into that.

Ted Simons: Isn't Monte's over there, and the Hayden mill.

Jeremy Rowe: Right.

Ted Simons: Unbelievable. And somewhere in the distance in the future would be Phoenix?

Jeremy Rowe: Yep.

Ted Simons: Not so much right there but in the future. Speaking of towns, Tombstone, I think we got a shot of a parade in Tombstone, and this, I mean, this tough town was already kind of turning into a tourist town by the early 1900's.

Jeremy Rowe: The floods had taken the mines out, the silver mines were wealthy for a period of time but the water was flowing in the mines and difficult for them to continue so they were transitioning from that being a mining community to something else, and tourism was one of the areas that they sort of pulled together. This is the stagecoach that was sort of a famous historic stagecoach, and they used it for parades for a variety of reunions and other things to gear up that tourism and tourist activity there.

Ted Simons: And I want to end on just a fantastic shot here of the Grand Canyon. This is, first, it's hand colored, correct? And look at what he's doing. Where's the safety and precautions here?

Jeremy Rowe: Pre-OSHA.

Ted Simons: Yes!

Jeremy Rowe: All the safety factors at the canyon. They would hand color these with oils or watercolors, and the coloring is beautiful but trying to do something dynamic, it's interesting, this is a later view, the earliest images that were seen by many in Arizona, where there are the surveys and you go to the 1920s and 1930s and the canyon was still popular and you see a different style of things, or drugstore cowboys, post on the edge, and --

Ted Simons: When you say in color, that is both sides, hand colored.

Jeremy Rowe: If there is a difference between the colors, you get a flick everything and they take advantage of that sometimes.

Ted Simons: And as far as these, how many more of these are out there?

Jeremy Rowe: It's really hard to say. When I first started working on the books they thought there were 200 or 300 stereos totally. I have 4,000 titles that I pulled together so far, so there is probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000, 11,000 views, and this is a rough guess, and millions and millions of views are made but Arizona was sort of a difficult place to photograph, and not heavily photographed during this era.

Ted Simons: We have a minute left here, and I have got to ask you, this sounds like a labor of love, and why do you do this?

Jeremy Rowe: I found a couple of photographs at the park and swap many years ago, and that set the hook, and trying to find out more about the photos and how they were taken and what they mean, and everyone has a story in it, and as you spend time with them you pull more out of the photographs, and it's a lot of fun.

Ted Simons: And that is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you very much for joining us on this special Arizona history edition of Arizona Horizon. You have a great evening.

Jeremy Rowe:Historical Photography Collector

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