WATKINS, Carleton E.

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Sugarloaf Islands at Fisherman's Bay, Farallon Islands c. 1869 by Carl Watkins, Albumen silver print

WATKINS, Carleton Emmons (1829–1916), an American photographer of the 19th century. Born in New York, he moved to California (with his boyhood friend, Collis Huntington) and quickly became interested in photography. Watkins focused mainly on landscape photos, and Yosemite was a favorite subject of his. His photos of the valley significantly influenced President Abraham Lincoln and the United States Congress’ decision to preserve it as a National Park.

Watkins began losing his sight in the 1890s. Towards the end of his life, he was declared incompetent and moved to the Napa State Hospital for the Insane in 1910. He died six years later and was buried in an unmarked grave on the hospital grounds.

Carleton Watkins = [1879] Frances Henrietta Sneade (1856-1945)

  • Julia Watkins (1881-1977)
  • Collis Milton Watkins (1883-1965) [named for his best friend, Collis Huntington, one of "the Big Four" owners of Central Pacific Railroad.

In the late 1860s, Watkins photographed the Farallon Islands outside San Francisco's Golden Gate.


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