March 03, 1986 12:00 PM

by Mark Junge

A transplanted Virginian, Stimson started taking pictures of the American West in 1889. By the time he died in 1952 he had compiled a body of photographs that represents both history and art. Stimson originally settled in Cheyenne, Wyo. and began taking portraits. Most of his glass negatives of portraits were later broken in an accident—more’s the pity, to judge from the remaining portraits printed in this book. He is best known for the pictures he took to publicize the Union Pacific Railroad early in the century. The Union Pacific gave him wide latitude to photograph anything even near its lines, and he exploited that latitude, shooting not only locomotives and roadbeds but glorious mountain landscapes, main streets and factories. Stimson had a sharp eye for composition—even such shots as one of a huge air compressor take on an abstract, designed quality. His photographs are also a testament to the elegance of simplicity, from a vista in the Grand Tetons to a plain dirt street—the street—in Sedgewick, Colo. in 1909. Junge, a Wyoming state historian, chose the photographs and provides biographical details. (University of Nebraska, $29.95)

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