The first known photo taken of a wagon train on the Oregon Trail is the one you see above.

The train was traversing what would later be known as the state of Wyoming.

In 1859, Albert Bierstadt, a renowned Western artist, captured what likely stands as the earliest photographic documentation of a pioneer wagon train traversing Wyoming, descending a hill towards the Big Sandy River valley.

Although the iconic image is widely recognized, its accompanying narrative remains relatively obscure.

In the video below, Clint Gilchrist, Executive Director of the Museum of the Mountain Man, sheds light on the intriguing backstory of the photograph's inception and the trail's contemporary appearance.

In the video thumbnail, you can see Mr. Gilchrist standing in front of the same hill and trail from the historic photo.

The trail, still visible today, is on the left of Mr. Gilchrist, just above his shoulder.

Taking a photo back then was a much different process than it is today. Everybody had to remain perfectly still until the image was captured. That would take a few minutes.

So the image was not of the wagon train in motion, but of the wagon at a standstill while the photo was captured.

As far as we know the image that Mr. Gilchrist is holding is the oldest of its kind- not just on the Oregon Trail, but of any immigrant trail.

attachment-Mr Gilcrest Big Sandy River Wyoming Oldest Photo Of Immagrant Trail

The caption on the photo, written way back after the photo was developed, reads "BIG SANDY RIVER, OREGON."

At the time, Wyoming was not a state, but a part of the Oregon territory.

In the video Mr. Gilchrist explains how the photo was taken, and developed, and a little bit more about the history of the area during that time.


Gallery Credit: Glenn Woods

Almost Forgotton Wyoming Cemetary

Gallery Credit: Glenn Woods

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