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Alfred A. Hart and The ILLUSTRATED
Traveler's Map of the Central Pacific Railroad

By Peter E. Palmquist

Stereo World, Vol. 6, No. 6, January-February, 1980, pp. 14-18.
Copyright © 1980 by the National Stereoscopic Association, Inc.

Hart Travellers Map
The TRAVELER'S MAP OF THE CENTRAL PACIFIC RAILROAD, designed and published by stereo photographer Alfred A. Hart. The woodcut engravings which flank the map are taken from Hart's stereographs of the C.P.R.R. (Courtesy, Special Collections, U.C.L.A.).
Hart Travellers Map, verso
Verso of the TRAVELER'S MAP. All the illustrations shown as Woodcuts match known
Hart stereographs taken of the C.P.R.R. during the 1860's.

Few stereo photographers have been more interestingly allied with the western railroad industry than Alfred A. Hart. Not only did he diligently document the actual building of the Central Pacific Railroad with his camera, but he also served as an active and influential publicist for the railroad's tourist endeavors as well. Among other things, he authored a railroad guidebook, entitled: THE TRAVELER'S OWN BOOK, A PANORAMA OF OVERLAND TRAVEL, FROM CHICAGO TO SAN FRANCISCO.1

Hart Indian
Enlargement of Hart Stereograph which matches the woodcut engraving ("Top of Palisades")
shown at the lower left hand corner of the TRAVELER'S MAP (above).

His most popular publishing achievement, however, was his "New Map of the Road" called the TRAVELER'S MAP OF THE CENTRAL PACIFIC RAILROAD. Published in several versions, beginning in about 1870, this map proved to be a very useful and popular guide to the routes and wonders of the C.P.R.R. Particularly unusual, however, was the fact that the map was highly illustrated with woodcut engravings based on Hart's own stereographs. The map shown here is taken from THE CALIFORNIA MAIL BAG, March-April, 1873.2

Hart Woodcut
Enlargement of the woodcut pictured at the
upper left of TRAVELER'S MAP (above).

The map itself is some 36 inches in length, with the woodcut illustrations serving as samples of the scenery which the travelers would see along the route west. Although other stereographs have been reproduced as woodcut engravings for various purposes, they were seldom featured in such a "travelogue" manner. Moreover the woodcuts themselves resemble stereographs, which reminded the tourist that actual stereographs would make excellent souvenirs of their journey.

Hart 9
Hart stereograph of "Bloomer Cut" issued by C.E. Watkins. Note that the
image matches the woodcut in the lower left corner (above).

It is unclear whether Hart undertook to produce his map with the specific endorsement of the railroad, or as a personal enterprise. However, it appears likely that Hart enjoyed a favored relationship with the railroad because of his status as the "Official Photographer of the C.P.R.R." Hart also spoke of himself as the "Proprietor and Publisher of the Photographic Railroad Advertiser" in which he arranged framed advertisements and displays in the largest hotels along the route of the C.P.R.R.3

Hart advertisement

Advertisement for Alfred A. Hart's
Golden State Photographic Studio,
Sacramento, California.

Hart began photographing the construction of the C.P.R.R. at least as early as 1864, achieving "official" status shortly thereafter.4 Based in Sacramento, California, Hart produced stereographs until about 1869 at which time he suddenly sold his railroad negatives to San Francisco photographer Carleton E. Watkins. Watkins published these views as his own for many years.5 With the exception of his publishing ventures in the early 1870's, little is known about Hart's later life.6

Hart 211
"West Portal Tunnel No. 1," No. 211 by Alfred A. Hart. This view was published on Hart's own mount.

Hart 252
"Snow Gallery around Crested Peak, Timbers 12 x 14 in., 20 in. apart," No. 252
by Alfred A. Hart. This view was published by C.E. Watkins giving no credit to Hart.

1. Hart, Alfred A., THE TRAVELER'S OWN BOOK ... A Souvenir of overland travel, via the great and attractive route, Chicago, Burlington and Quincy R.R. to Burlington. Union Pacific Railroad to Ogden. Central Pacific Railroad to Sacramento. Western Pacific Railroad to San Francisco ... Chicago, Horton & Leonard, 1870.

2. THE CALIFORNIA MAIL BAG, March-April, 1873. This particular version of the map was produced after Hart left the C.P.R.R. and the map no longer bears Hart's credit line.

3. Hart may have enjoyed a "concession" for such activities. For instance, he may have been allowed free passage on the railroad in return for promotional displays, etc., which featured the C.P.R.R.

4. Darrah, William C., THE WORLD OF STEREOGRAPHS, Gettysburg, published by the author, 1977, p. 87. The vast majority of Hart's stereographs were taken in the California and Nevada areas and were of uniformly high quality.

5. Turrill, Charles B., "An Early California Photographer: C.E. Watkins," NEWS NOTES OF CALIFORNIA LIBRARIES, Vol. 13, No. 1 (January 1918). Turrill tells us that Watkins obtained 364 stereo negatives from Hart.

6. Hopefully, research presently being conducted by photo-historian Pauline Grenbeaux will eventually solve many of the mysteries which surround Hart's life and works.


The Photographic Times Sept. 19, 1890, P 475; July 17, 1891, P 399; Aug. 14, 1891, P 409; Oct. 16, 1891, P 518

Wilson's Photographic Magazine Vol. XXVIII 1891, P 576

The Toronto World Oct. 3, 1891, P 1; Oct. 7, 1891

The Globe, Toronto Oct. 3, 1891, P 13; Oct. 7, 1891, P 8, Oct. 8, 1891, P 8

New York Times Sept. 7, 1890, P 1

NSA logo
Courtesy of the National Stereoscopic Association, Mary Ann Sell, President, and Don Gibbs, Manager, Stereo World back issues. Reproduced by permission.

Hart CDV
A very rare circa 1866 carte de visite by Sacramento photographer, Alfred A. Hart from his series, Central Pacific Railroad. This view is titled "Scene Near Donner Pass, Table Peak in the distance," As it is a CDV, it was trimmed somewhat differently than a stereo half (Hart stereoview #112). It appears to show more of the scene on the right side of the image and less on the top. Courtesy of an anonymous donor.

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