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Passage to Wonderland

Rephotographing Joseph Stimson's Views of the Cody Road to Yellowstone National Park, 1903 and 2008

By Michael Amundson

Publication Year: 2012

In 1903 the Cody Road opened, leading travelers from Cody, Wyoming, to Yellowstone National Park. Cheyenne photographer J. E. Stimson traveled the route during its first week in existence, documenting the road for the state of Wyoming’s contribution to the 1904 World’s Fair. His images of now-famous landmarks like the Buffalo Bill reservoir, the Holy City, Chimney Rock, Pahaska Tepee, Sylvan Pass, and Sylvan Lake are some of the earliest existing photgraphs of the route. In 2008, 105 years later, Michael Amundson traveled the same road, carefully duplicating Stimson’s iconic original photographs. In Passage to Wonderland, these images are paired side by side and accompanied by a detailed explanation of the land and history depicted.

Amundson examines the physical changes along “the most scenic fifty miles in America” and explores the cultural and natural history behind them. This careful analysis of the paired images make Passage to Wonderlandmore than a “then and now” photography book—it is a unique exploration of the interconnectedness between the Old West and the New West. It will be a wonderful companion for those touring the Cody Road as well as those armchair tourists who can follow the road on Google Earth using the provided GPS coordinates.

Published by: University Press of Colorado


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xvi

Any long-term project such as this requires the assistance of numerous persons and institutions to see it through to completion. At Northern Arizona University (NAU), I would like to thank the Department of History for its continued support. The academic world is everchanging, but my home department has been solid in its support of faculty research. ...

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Passage to Wonderland

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pp. 1-6

The road from Cody, Wyoming, to Yellowstone National Park has been called the “most scenic fifty miles in the world.” Officially designated the “Buffalo Bill Scenic Byway,” the road follows the North Fork of the Shoshone River to the high mountains of the Absaroka Range and the park’s East Entrance. ...

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1. J. E. Stimson, Photography, Rephotography, and Me

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pp. 7-28

Between 1889 and 1948, Joseph Elam Stimson photographed Wyoming and the American West, producing more than 7,500 images of landscapes, mining, railroads, community life, ranching and farming, and tourism. Most of these shots were made on 8×10-inch glass plates and are artistically composed and incredibly sharp. ...

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2. History of the Cody Road to Yellowstone

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pp. 29-50

When J. E. Stimson traveled the Cody Road in July 1903, he was probably one of the first fifty people to take the new route to Yellowstone’s East Entrance. His images record a brand-new highway cut through the wilderness. Except for his conveyance, a survey of his photographs shows no other tourist or wagon. ...

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3. Photographs and Rephotographs

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pp. 51-140

When J. E. Stimson explored the Cody Road over four days in the summer of 1903, he made images both going to Yellowstone and on his return to Cody. I have reconstructed these images into a single linear geographic passage moving westward on the road from Cody to Yellowstone, representing the scenes a traveler would encounter during the trip to the park. ...

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4. Afterword

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pp. 141-144

It has been four years since I rephotographed J. E. Stimson’s trip to Yellowstone over the newly opened Cody Road. In that time I have married and moved into a new home in Flagstaff. Because my dog Nellie had been ill and then passed away in the spring of 2011, I have spent exactly six nights away from home since returning from Wyoming. ...

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pp. 145-152


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pp. 153-156

E-ISBN-13: 9781607322047
E-ISBN-10: 1607322048
Print-ISBN-13: 9781607321927
Print-ISBN-10: 1607321920

Page Count: 208
Illustrations: 42 color photos, 48 B&W photos
Publication Year: 2012

OCLC Number: 815970270
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Passage to Wonderland

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Cody Region (Wyo.) -- Pictorial works.
  • Scenic byways -- Wyoming -- Cody Region -- Pictorial works.
  • Cody Region (Wyo.) -- History -- Pictorial works.
  • Scenic byways -- Wyoming -- Cody Region -- History -- Pictorial works.
  • Yellowstone National Park Region -- History, Local -- Pictorial works.
  • Repeat photography -- Wyoming -- Cody Region.
  • Repeat photography -- Yellowstone National Park Region.
  • Stimson, Joseph Elam, 1870-1952 -- Travel -- Wyoming -- Cody Region.
  • Cody Region (Wyo.) -- Description and travel.
  • Photographers -- West (U.S.) -- Biography.
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