The discovery of the Comstock Lode, one of the largest silver deposits ever mined, in June 1859 set off a chain of events that changed the landscape of the West. As in the Gold Rush of 1849, prospectors and miners migrated to the area to seek their fortunes. The New Almaden mine in California was the subject of a five-year lawsuit about the ownership of the mine and lands. Shortly after the case was settled, the victors invited Carleton Watkins to document the trophy they had won, the mine itself. The thirty mammoth-plate images Watkins made of the smelting works reveal his new appreciation for the power of a diagonal viewpoint to expose the geometry of a factory setting.


  • Title: Smelting Works, New Almaden
  • Creator: Carleton Watkins
  • Date Created: 1863
  • Location Created: Santa Clara, California, United States
  • Physical Dimensions: 41.4 × 52.4 cm (16 5/16 × 20 5/8 in.)
  • Type: Print
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Albumen silver print
  • Terms of Use: Open Content
  • Number: 89.XM.61.1
  • Culture: American
  • Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
  • Creator Display Name: Carleton Watkins (American, 1829 - 1916)
  • Classification: Photographs (Visual Works)

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