on a Trip from
operating as a professional photographer from studios
in Edinburgh, beginning around 1850, James
G Tunny set out on his United States tour on 5 September 1882.
After spending almost a year travelling, he gave a lecture, illustrated
by a large selection of views, to the EPS on 3 October 1883.
This lecture was received by a very large audience.
Tunny by means of a map indicated the extent of his tour, and
pointing out the magnificent views with which he had adorned the walls,
paid a high tribute to the untiring industry and artistic ability of Mr
Watkins, who, with nearly two tons of impedimenta, mounted on sixteen
mules secured under the most trying circumstances secured these
first photographs of the wonderful Yosemite Valley
are a few of the places that Tunny visited visited; starting in
Boston, where his ship landed on 19 September:
"my old friend Mr Black, ... busy at work still using the strong acid
bath. Dry Plates not yet having become a favourite with him,
he appears to be doing large business in magic lantern transparencies.
Messrs Allan and Rowell of Windsor Street still continue to print all
their large pictures in carbon. There is very little of this work
done in the States."
found many of the familiar names above the show cases, telling me that the
old pioneers were still in harness.
visit to the Scoville Manufacturing Company's establishment will never be forgotten.
On entering, I saw within the desk enclosure, the old familiar face of our
friend JT Taylor, he who was the soul of this [Edinburgh] society for many
years, and whose contributions to our art have been many and
tour continued through Philadelphia, Washington, Kentucky, St Louis,
Kansas, Colorado and the Rocky Mountains, Denver, Mexico, Las Vegas with
the hot springs and mud baths, to Santa Fe
all the houses are built of adobe or sun-dried brick; the streets
are very picturesque. There is not such a thing as a spoke-wheeled
car in the city, the wheels are solid and drawn by oxen.
dress of both sexes is very picturesque. The toggery of the Indians
is very fantastic. Everything indicates how firmly they resist all modern
changes. Three fourths of the inhabitants are Spanish,
Mexicans and Indians."
continued through Touson, Arizona, Los Angeles and on to Madeira where
they took the stage for Yosemite, with views that delighted Tunny - and not
because he had seen Ansel Adams' photos. This expedition took place
twenty years before the birth of Ansel Adams.
leaving Los Angeles, the train ascends the San Fernando mountains, and
passes them by the mammoth tunnel , which is about 7,000 feet in
length. After passing through a beautiful rich agricultural
country, we reached Madeira, the station from which we took the stage for
journey was the most fatiguing that I encountered. The first day's
ride into the valley was 66 miles, and the second 24 miles. The
valley is six miles long and half a mile broad.
... The views that I have the pleasure of showing you will
give you a better idea of that beautiful valley than any word painting
that I could indulge in .
The tour continued through the Mariposa Grove of big trees to Madeira and
San Francisco, a city whose population had grown from 10,000 to 300,000
over the previous twenty years. He was impressed by the cable street
"Those who have not seen this mode of street travelling, and enjoyed its
smooth, comfortable, and noiseless means
of the grades I travelled were as steep as our Arthur Street. Your
feelings were not lacerated by the pulling, dragging, tearing of and
swearing at the poor horses; the ascent was as easily accomplished
as if it had been a sleigh on ice.
If such means were adopted to overtake the steep streets of our New Town
and Leith Walk, it would be a great boon to the citizens of Edinburgh."
cars were, in fact introduced into Edinburgh five years later, in 1888]
in San Francisco stands very high, both in regard to portraiture and
landscape work. I was fortunate enough to gain the friendship of Mr
Tabor and Mr Watkins, names that are known all over Europe ..."
18 June the party left the Pacific coast, travelling by Central Pacific
RR. They passed through Sacramento, visited Salt Lake City and
bathed in the Lake.
entered the never-to-be-forgotten Royal Gorge. ... ... We had the surging
river below and 3,000 ft of perpendicular rock above. Every voice is
hushed and the soul filled with awe. The photographer has not yet
was more overwhelmed with the awful grandeur of this mighty canon
than with the Yosemite Valley, and when the photographer has accomplished
his task, the world will become acquainted with scenes overwhelmingly
continued to Denver, Chicago, Detroit where Tunny reported that photography
was flourishing and that he saw dry plates in four or five of the leading
galleries. Finally they visited Niagara Falls.