Carleton Watkins

 Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

Mr. Watkins, paging Mr. Carleton Watkins!! Who? Never heard of him?? He was one of the first photographers in Yosemite. He specialized in LARGE plates and even did stereo photos. Here’s one of his photos whose title causes confusion: “Mt. Broderick, Nevada Fall, Yosemite”.

Why? Well, the mound we know today as Liberty Cap is called Mt. Broderick here. I’ve even seen that on some olde tyme maps. Turns out that it WAS originally called Mt. Broderick, named after David Broderick, a California State senator who was killed in 1859. When Watkins took the photo that’s what it was called. But in 1865 it was changed to The Cap of Liberty. But the mystery isn’t over. If you look at today’s maps – between Liberty Cap and Half Dome there is a small dome called “Mt Broderick.” Turns out it appropriated the name when Liberty Cap was christened.  Most of Watkins work burned in the fires of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake. He spent his last days at an asylum for the insane. If you are interested in having a Watkins of your own for your den, the Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco is selling a few. Prices from $6,800 to $190,000. Go <here> for info. They’re only a block from Union Square. Pick one up while doing your Christmas shopping!

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Anchors Aweigh, my boys, Anchors Aweigh. Farewell to college joys, we sail at break of day-ay-ay-ay. Through our last night on shore, drink to the foam, until we meet once more, here’s wishing you a happy voyage home.” – Navy Theme

*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch –


4 Responses to “Carleton Watkins”

  1. DavidDavid Says:

    I thought to share the link to the NY Public Library’s collection of Valley pics, and find to my surprise that Liberty Cap was once known as Bellows Butte. I was familiar with Mt. Broderick, which I think Ansel Adams clambered up, or down, when he did the Monolith pic…here’s a link:

    Bellows Butte and Nevada Fall, Yosemite.

  2. mrhalfdome Says:

    Bellows Butte was a short lived name for Liberty Cap before it was called such. Named after a Doctor Bellows. My next blog will describe how the name Cap of Liberty came about. Stay tuned!


  3. Randy Says:

    I wonder if this is the same Watkins that modern day Mt Watkins was named after? Changed from? Mmmmm…. this could get confusing.

  4. mrhalfdome Says:

    Let me poke around – while you are at work, I’ll dig into where “Mt. Watkins” came from. The next blog is about the Cap of Lliberty.


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