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Olin D. Wheeler collection of photographs of Yosemite Valley

Identifier: Ayer-Photographs-box-68-70, 88

Scope and Content of the Collection

Photographs of Yosemite National Park, circa 1925, views of landscapes and Native Americans along the route taken by the Lewis and Clark Expedition, ca. 1880-1904, and miscellaneous images associated with Wheeler’s interest in western travel.

Many of the seventy-one gelatin photographic views of sites in Yosemite, taken after the construction of the Glacier Point Hotel in 1917, include tourists traveling in both Yosemite Transportation System vehicles and in private cars. The rest of the photographs (gelatin, albumen, cyanotype) are scenes taken mainly at the turn of the twentieth century in North Dakota and Montana but also in California, Iowa, Oregon and Washington. There are a number of images of Mandan Indians and their dwellings, schools, graves, transport, etc., taken at or near the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota; landscape views of Montana, including some of the Crook battlefield near Rosebud; scenic shots along the Columbia River and many unidentified rural settings; a photograph of the dedication of the Floyd obelisk near Sioux City, Iowa, on May 31, 1901, and shots of the sewing kit of expedition member George Shannon and a page of the expedition journal. Also, a studio portrait of Olin D. Wheeler and two pictures of him at his Northern Pacific Railway office desk. Box 68 contains photographs of traveling in Yosemite Valley National Park, California, circa 1925. Boxes 69, 70, and 88 contain Indian images and Western scenes, ca. 1880-1922.

Seven identifiable photographers in the collection are C. Emsley, Corliss Fairchild, Benjamin A. Gifford, Orlando Scott Goff, Caspar W. Hodgson, L.A. Huffman, and Lee Moorhouse.


  • Creation: approximately 1880-1925



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Olin D. Wheeler Collection of Photographs of Yosemite Valley are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Olin D. Wheeler Collection of Photographs of Yosemite Valley are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections.

Biography Olin D. Wheeler

Topographer, author, and railroad executive.

Born in Mansfield, Ohio in 1852, Olin D. Wheeler was a topographer with John Wesley Powell’s survey of the Colorado River, 1874-1879. From 1892 to 1909 Wheeler was in charge of advertising for the Northern Pacific Railway, and was author of its annual publication, Wonderland, which highlighted the history and scenic beauty of the region through which the railroad ran. In preparing the Wonderland issues, Wheeler became interested in the Lewis and Clark Expedition. He explored the route extensively, and in 1904 published a two-volume study entitled The Trail of Lewis and Clark, which was illustrated with numerous photographs, many of which are in this collection.

Active in retirement, in 1924 Wheeler was appointed historian of the Veterans’ Association of the Northern Pacific Railway. He died a year later.


1.9 Linear Feet (3 boxes and 1 oversize box)


This collection of 179 photographic prints contains 71 views of Yosemite National Park, including tourists traveling in Yosemite Transportation vehicles and private cars. Wheeler also compiled a collection of photographs of the landscapes and Native Americans along the route of the Lewis and Clark expedition while researching his two-volume book The Trail of Lewis and Clark. This collection is part of the Edward E. Ayer Collection of Photographs.


Photographs, part of the Edward E. Ayer Photograph Collection, were separated in 1972 from the Olin Dunbar Wheeler Papers. Boxed and numbered by size, they were mislabeled as part of the Custer Correspondence Photographs.

Collection Stack Location

3 17 16

Ownership and Custodial History

Forms part of the Edward E. Ayer Photograph Collection (Newberry Library)


Gift, Chicago Tribune, 1972.

Processed by

Virginia Hay Smith, 2012.

Inventory of the Olin D. Wheeler collection of photographs of Yosemite Valley, approximately 1880-1925
Virginia Hay Smith
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States