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Mormon Emigrant Train, Echo Canyon
Albumen silver print, from glass negative
5.9 x 10.3 cm (2 5/16 x 4 1/16 ins)
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Gilman Collection, Purchase, Marlene Nathan Meyerson Family Foundation Gift, 2005, Accession Number: 2005.100.101
Charles William Carter (American, born Great Britain, 1832-1918)
Comments from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Born in London, Charles Carter learned photography as a soldier in the British Army. In 1859 he moved to Salt Lake City in the Territory of Utah and soon joined the studio of his countryman and fellow Mormon Charles Roscoe Savage. Shortly thereafter he opened Carter's View Emporium, which catered to the rapidly growing Mormon community in Brigham Young's theocratic State of Deseret. From 1850 to 1870 the population of Salt Lake City grew on the average an astonishing 33 percent each year; by 1870 there were 86,000 residents, an increase of more than 75,000 people in two decades.
This view of a train of Conestoga wagons, or prairie schooners as they were known, is typical of the work Carter produced for sale to the Mormon pioneers. Urged by the church to emigrate to Utah, and partially aided by Young's Perpetual Emigration Fund, thousands of new converts in search of a better life set out across the country in covered wagons. Of the many trails leading west, the Mormon Trail played the largest role in the growth of population along the frontier. In the background of Carter's photograph are several telegraph poles, confirmation that even early Western communication followed the settlers. Echo Canyon is one of the two mountain passes at the very end of the trail, just outside Salt Lake City, through which Young first directed his small band of followers in the summer of 1847.