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The Baron in the Grand Canyon

Friedrich Wilhelm von Egloffstein in the West

Steven Rowan

Publication Year: 2012


In The Baron in the Grand Canyon, Steven Rowan presents the first comprehensive look at the life of Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Egloffstein, mapmaker, artist, explorer, and inventor. Utilizing new German and American sources, Rowan clarifies many mysteries about the life of this major artist and cartographer of the American West.
This revealing account concentrates on Egloffstein’s activity in the American mountain West from 1853 to 1858. The early chapters cover his roots as a member of an imperial baronial family in Franconia, his service in the Prussian army, his arrival in the United States in 1846, and his links to his scandalous gothic-novelist cousin, Baron Ludwig von Reizenstein.
Egloffstein’s work as a cartographer in St. Louis in the 1840s led to his participation in John C. Frémont’s final expedition to the West in 1853 and 1854. He left Frémont for Salt Lake City where he joined the Gunnison Expedition under the leadership of Edward Beckwith. During this time, Egloffstein produced his most outstanding panoramas and views of the expedition, which were published in Pacific Railroad Reports.
Egloffstein also served along with Heinrich Balduin Möllhusen as one of the artists and as the chief cartographer of Joseph Christmas Ives’s expedition up the Colorado River. The two large maps produced by Egloffstein for the expedition report are regarded as classics of American art and cartography in the nineteenth century.
While with the Ives expedition, Egloffstein performed his revolutionary experiments in printing photographic images. He developed a procedure for working from photographs of plaster models of terrain, and that led him to invent “heliography,” a method of creating printing plates directly from photographs. He later went on to launch a company to exploit his photographic printing process, which closed after only a few years of operation.
Among the many images in this engaging narrative are photographs of the Egloffstein castle and of Egloffstein in 1865 and in his later years. Also include are illustrations that were published in the PRR, such as “View Showing the Formation of the Cañon of Grand River[today called the Gunnison River] / near the Mouth of Lake Fork with Indications of the Formidable Side Cañons” and Beckwith Map 1: “From the Valley of Green River to the Great Salt Lake.”

Published by: University of Missouri Press


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pp. 1-1


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pp. 2-5


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pp. 6-7

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pp. vii-viii

My research on this subject began, as these things usually do, with a whimsical question that turned out not to have a solid answer. In 1850 a young Bavarian nobleman, Baron Ludwig von Reizenstein, down on his luck and reduced to selling birdcages ...

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I The Severed Bear’s Head - Franconia, Bavaria, and Prussia, 1824–1848

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pp. 1-9

In 1773, the young poet Johann Wolfgang Goethe (not yet ennobled with a “von”) would celebrate the ambiguous freedom of the Imperial Knights, lords over paltry knots of subjects and destined to extinction, in his sprawling play ...

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II Egloffstein and Zwanziger, Surveyors - St. Louis, 1849–1853

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pp. 10-29

In the brief period Friedrich von Egloffstein would spend in St. Louis near the juncture of the Mississippi and the Missouri, he would establish many of the parameters of his later career in the West. For part of the time he was in partnership with an otherwise obscure ...

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III Solomon Carvalho’s Excellent Adventure - With Frémont over the Rockies; Great Salt Lake City Idyll

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pp. 30-46

Egloffstein’s connection with Engelmann and the (Missouri) Pacific Railroad probably played a large role in getting him a position on what would become John Charles Frémont’s (illustration 11) last expedition ...

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IV Views of Mount Shasta - To California with Beckwith, 1854

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pp. 47-74

The War Department had decided from the outset that Gunnison’s expedition would not continue west of the Great Basin on the thirty-eighth parallel north so dear to Benton and Frémont. Instead, it was to ...

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V. A New Style of Topographical Drawing - Washington, DC, and the Pacific Railroad Reports

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pp. 75-93

Not long after returning to St. Louis, Baron Friedrich picked up his family and departed for the East. Toward the end of September 1854, he wrote Engelmann to let him know of his arrival in Washington, DC, with his wife ...

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VI. The Thoughts of God - Up the Colorado with Ives, 1857–1858

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pp. 94-151

Egloffstein longed to return to the West to “read the thoughts of God.” His desire was fulfilled when he was designated both the topographical engineer and one of two artists for an expedition up the Colorado under the command ...

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VII The Last Plates - Farewell to the West, 1861–1885

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pp. 152-164

At the same time that he was finishing work on the Colorado maps, Egloffstein was actively pursuing a new process that would complete a mechanical link between his plaster models and the images ...

Abbreviations in the Notes and Bibliography

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pp. 165-165


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pp. 167-189


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pp. 191-204


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pp. 205-208

E-ISBN-13: 9780826272836
E-ISBN-10: 0826272835
Print-ISBN-13: 9780826219824
Print-ISBN-10: 0826219829

Page Count: 224
Illustrations: 65
Publication Year: 2012

Edition: 1

OCLC Number: 868217771
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Baron in the Grand Canyon