- Carleton E. Watkins Photographs
- 1890 (inclusive)
- 81 photographic prints : 7x8.5 inch black and white prints
- Collection Number
- PG 89
- Black and white prints of the interior of Anaconda Mines near Butte, Montana. Includes views of miners, ore, timbering, and equipment. All photographs were taken by Carleton E. Watkins.
University of Idaho Library, Special Collections and Archives
Special Collections and Archives
University of Idaho Library
875 Perimeter Drive
- Access Restrictions
Collection is open for research.
Content DescriptionReturn to Top
This collection contains 81 black and white prints of the interior of Anaconda Mines near Butte, Montana. Includes views of miners, ore, timbering, and equipment. All photographs were taken by Carleton E. Watkins. To view digitized photographs, see our Carleton Watkins Mine Interiors digital collection.
Long considered lost, this collection of photographs was found in a basement in San Francisco after having survived the 1906 earthquake. These photographs, taken in 1890 by Carleton E. Watkins, depict the interiors of four Anaconda Mining Company mines in Butte, Montana. Watkins is best known for his scenic, large-plate photographs of the western United States, but the documentation and design of his commercial photography have also been studied, such as these mining scenes.
Watkins was hired to photograph the Anaconda copper mine in Butte by James Ben Ali Haggin in 1889. Haggin's company, Hearst, Haggin, Tevis and Co., which was owned by the Anaconda Mining Company, along with several other mines. Haggin and his partners had purchased majority shares in the Anaconda mine from Marcus Daly in 1881 and gradually transformed it into one of the largest copper producing mines in the world.
Watkins was hired to document the mines so that Haggin could present, later that year, "visually persuasive evidence of the mine's present success and future prospects" to European copper mining syndicates (including the Rothschild family) with whom the American copper mining interests were competing (Hult-Lewis, 247). The photographs served as a threat to the Europeans, indicating that Haggin's mines could produce and distribute such a large quantity of copper that the market value of the metal would be drastically diminished. The threat worked: the European syndicates and the Americans both promised to limit production to better guarantee the market.
As Watkins' letters from Butte attest, his time in Montana was anything but comfortable. Living out of his railroad car, Watkins dealth with howling winds, rain, snow, fires, personal health issues (bad toe, bad hip, vertigo), and terrible lighting and breathing conditions in the mine itself. Meanwhile, back in San Francisco, his wife, their two children, and his sister were dealing with their own health and money issues, having to stave off creditors and the "wolf" of hunger at the same time. Lonely, weakened by a poor diet, and pining for his family, Watkins nevertheless managed to produce captivating photographs of the working mines - some as deep as 1,000 feet - by using a combination of eletric and flash lighting.
For a more detailed look at the mining photography of Carleton E. Watkins, and for more information on these photographs in particular, we recommend the recent dissertation of Christine A. Hult-Lewis," The Mining Photographs of Carleton Watkins, 1858-1891, and the Origins of Corporate Photography. Hult-Lewis contextualizes these photographs among the large body of mining photography Watkins created during his lifetime, describing these late photographs of Watkins as breaks from his usual style.
Watkins also has non-mining photographs.
- Carleton Watkins Exhibition & Photographs
- Carleton Watkins - 19th Century California Photographer
- The Stereoviews of Carleton Watkins
- Carleton Watkins Photographs at the Getty Museum
- Yosemite History: Carleton E. Watkins, photographer
- Carleton E. Watkins at National Gallery of Art
- Carleton E. Watkins Photographs at Beineck Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Use of the CollectionReturn to Top
[description of item], Carleton E. Watkins Photographs (PG 89), Special Collections and Archives, University of Idaho Library, Moscow, Idaho.
Administrative InformationReturn to Top
Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top
PhotographsReturn to Top
Mt Con 100 Station at shaft.
Names and SubjectsReturn to Top
- Subject Terms :
- Photograph collections
- Mines and mineral resources--Montana
- Mining Corporations
- Mining Geology
- Photography in Mining