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Know the West

A photographer traces footsteps of an early-20th century predecessor

Review of “Wyoming Revisited: Rephotographing the Scenes of Joseph E. Stimson” by Michael A. Amundson.


Wyoming Revisited: Rephotographing the Scenes of Joseph E. Stimson
Michael A. Amundson
352 pages,
hardcover: $29.95.
University Press of Colorado, 2014.

In 1890, Joseph E. Stimson began photographing Wyoming’s parks, ranches, people and landscapes, hoping to promote the brand-new state. In the process, he documented- an early Wyoming boom. For over 60 years, he followed the state’s rise as train lines raced across the state, sheep and cattle ranching expanded and oil production increased. Photographer Michael Amundson has carefully retraced his footsteps, first in the 1980s, in black-and-white, and then again in 2007-2008, in color. Amundson reveals the unpredictable evolution of the West — the uneven ways that change ripples across a landscape. Many of the small towns Amundson revisited appear unchanged from Stimson’s original photographs. But others show the traces of the state’s dramatic boom-and-bust history. Images of the Cambria Coal Camp in the Black Hills of northwestern Wyoming, for example, document the gradual disappearance of the mine’s infrastructure. In the final photograph, only a faint dirt road remains.