Centennial View by Olin D. Wheeler

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Centennial Portrait of the Grand Fall

Grand Fall 1901

Photographer unknown; ca. 1901

"The Great Falls of the Missouri"
from The Trail of Lewis and Clark by Olin D. Wheeler

Olin Wheeler (1852-1925) was the first author to produce any significant works about the Lewis and Clark expedition. His major contribution to the literature was The Trail of Lewis and Clark, 1804-1904; with a description of the old trail, based upon actual travel over it, and of the changes found a century later.1 Appearing in 1904, just eleven years after Elliot Coues's meticulously annotated reprint of Biddle's paraphrase, and a year before Reuben Gold Thwaites' similarly thorough transcription of all the original journals then known to exist, Wheeler's book brought to a wider public his personal impressions of the story of the expedition, the waters they navigated and the land they traversed. Among the two hundred illustrations it contained were numerous views of important expedition scenes and landmarks photographed by the various professional lensmen who accompanied him in his retracings of the route.

Unfortunately, the identities of only a few of those photographers are known, including L. A. Huffman of Miles City, Montana, who was a protégé of F. Jay Haynes. A few images are in the Edward Ayer Collection at the Newberry Library in Chicago, but an intensive search for original prints or negatives of the remaining photos included in The Trail has been fruitless.


1. (2 vols., New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1904). Wheeler's importance in the historiography of the expedition is briefly discussed in Paul Russell Cutright, A History of the Lewis and Clark Journals (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1976), 226-227; also Stephen Dow Beckham, The Literature of the Lewis and Clark Expedition: A Bibliography and Essays (Portland, Oregon: Lewis & Clark College, 2003).