In 1867, Watkins photographed the Columbia and Willamette Rivers to capture the geology of Oregon. He was also commissioned by the Oregon Steam Navigation Company to photograph their route up the Columbia River.
As Peter Palmquist points out, these Columbia River photographs were among his best. “The consistently high technical and aesthetic quality of the photographs distinguishes the series as a high-water mark in Watkins’ career.” 1
This view of Cape Horn is taken at the boat landing of Watkins’s brother-in-law, John Stevenson. The composition is both intimate (people) and awesome (mountains). During his time in Oregon, Watkins made 59 mammoth negatives and over 100 stereo images.
1 Palmquist, Peter. Carleton Watkins The Art of Perception. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1999. 211. Print