A. E. Dickerson was an Ohio photographer who became well known for his western stereoviews. Carl Mautz, in his book Biographies of Western Photographers, says Dickerson “made views of Colorado, Idaho, and Utah, c. 1890,” but I have some Dickerson stereoviews of this area that are marked “series 1907.” So sometime, probably between 1890 and 1907, Dickerson was in the Fort Collins area and, like many other western photographers, he decided to take a photograph in the Poudre Canyon. Below is his fascinating image.

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“Looking up the Pouder canon” by A. E. Dickerson
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Right Side of Dickerson’s Stereoview

The caption on the stereoview doesn’t tell us much. The caption is “Looking up the Pouder canon,” and it sports number 159. (Dickerson stereoviews have been found with numbers as high as 700.) The only inference we can draw from the caption is that we are looking west, up the Poudre Canyon.

The photograph must have been taken either in early spring or late fall, since there seems to be some snow or ice on the river but not on the ground. On the right side of the image there appears to be a road under construction. In between the river and the road bed is a campsite, a pretty big campsite for the late 1890s or early 1900s. Here’s a close-up of the camp.

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The Campsite

This camp has nine canvas or canvas-covered structures, a wooden outhouse, which is somewhat hidden on the bottom left of the image, and a covered wagon. The six tents in the center of the camp appear to have chimneys. This is a big camp for a significant group of people. The wooden outhouse implies some permanence. You probably don’t set up an outhouse if you are only staying for a day or two.

But there are many more questions than answers. Where are we in the canyon? Is this a camp for a road building crew? Is the date of the photograph closer to 1890 or 1907? And, why is the one canvas structure (tent?), at the top of the close-up, set off by itself?

Please share your thoughts or speculation by using the comment section below this post.

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