Trains passing above the American River often stopped so that tourists and photographers could get out and gaze at the awe-inspiring gorge. While the tourists simply viewed the scenery, photographers like Alfred A. Hart documented them, usually incorporating part of the train in the composition.
Though Hart made this stereograph, its mount bears Carleton E. Watkins's name. Watkins was a San Francisco-based photographer who also chose the railroad as a primary subject. Because Hart's negatives belonged to the Central Pacific Railroad, they were subsequently printed by other company photographers who, like Watkins, did not properly credit Hart.