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Charles Roscoe Savage

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Charles Roscoe Savage (1832-1909) was a British-born landscape and portrait photographer who produced images of the American West. He is best known for his 1869 photographs of the linking of the first transcontinental railroad.

Savage was born in Southampton, England, on August 16, 1832. At age 14, he joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. After serving missions for the church in Switzerland and England, he emigrated to the United States during the winter of 1855–56. He initially found work as a photographer in New York City, and headed west the following year. He first settled in Nebraska, then Council Bluffs, Iowa, where he established his first independent studio and gallery. In the spring of 1860, he traveled to Salt Lake City, Utah, with his family, where he established a photography studio with a partner, Marsena Cannon, an early Utah daguerreotypist and photographer. A year later, after Cannon moved to Southern Utah, Savage established a partnership with artist George Ottinger. Many of Savage's photographs were reproduced in Harper's Weekly newspaper, which created a national reputation for the firm. This partnership continued until 1870.

As a photographer under contract with the Union Pacific Railroad, Savage traveled to California in 1866 and then followed the rails back to Utah. He photographed the linking of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific on Promontory Summit, at Promontory, Utah in 1869. This series is considered his most famous work. Other well known Savage images include pictures of the Great Basin tribes, especially the Paiute and Shoshone. Savage photographed scenic areas of the west including Yellowstone National Park and Zion National Park, and created many images documenting the growth of Utah towns and cities. He also traveled extensively over western North America, taking pictures in areas of Canada and Mexico, and in areas from the Pacific Ocean to Nebraska in the mid-west. Most of Savage's archived photographs, produced by several different early photographic methods, were lost in 1883 in a disastrous studio fire.

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