Friday, January 3, 2014

Niagara 1853

Reversed view from Prospect Point on the American side, toward the Horseshoe or Canadian falls, showing the Terrapin Tower in the background, and eight male figures standing in the foreground 

Three men boating in the Niagara River were overwhelmed by the river's strong current, lost control of their boat, and crashed into a rock. The current carried two men immediately over the Falls to their deaths. The daguerreotype shows the third man, stranded on a log which had jammed between two rocks. He weathered the current for eighteen hours before succumbing to the river.

According to the Library of Congress this picture of stranded Joseph Avery was one of the first journalistic photographs ever made. His struggle not to be swept over the falls lasted long enough for people to organize the cumbersome technology required in 1853 to create this photographic artifact, but not long enough to organize some way of saving him. 

– images and captions from the Daguerreotype collection at the Library of Congress