BRIEF MOMENT IN HISTORY
Thanks to the local paper in Palo Alto we know what Arthur C. Pillsbury took with him on his three week jaunt into the Yosemite in 1895; that information had not made it into the family stories.
24 May, Friday - Palo Alto News - ``Next Wednesday, A.C. Pillsbury and Frank Watson, `95. Will leave for Yosemite and Kings River Valley on their wheels. They will carry with them their camping outfits, consisting of aluminum cooking utensils, 32 caliber rifle and shotgun combined, blanket, camera and fishing tackle, whole outfit weighing about ten pounds apiece. They expect to be gone about three weeks and anticipate a pleasant trip. Mr. Pillsbury will ride a 16 Lb. Rambler.
The paper evidently left out AC's cousin, Bernard Lane, who accompanied them. We all know journalists don't necessarily get the details straight.
Standing in meadows waist-deep in wild flowers Pillsbury immediately began photographing. He arranged to buy a studio in 1897 with Julius T. Boysen, selling his share when his then wife left him because "he wanted to spend summers in the wilderness."
AC had been busy at Stanford. Along with building a temporary dark room into the then unfinished rafters of Encinas Hall, he had built the first motorcycle in California, which according to him, "broke up classes," as he roared onto campus. ( Photo Tour)
Pillsbury's interest in photography led him to design and build the first circuit panoramic camera as his senior project for a degree in Mechanical Engineering. It was this camera he then took to the Gold Rush in the Yukon, capturing the images which still move us today. His journey from the headwaters of the Yukon River to the ocean was through 3,000 miles of frigid but beautiful land and waterways. ( On to the Yukon) Only a panoramic camera could capture the immensity of Alaska. Gold miners bought his photos for ten dollars each, paid in gold dust. It was just before his solitary journey from the headwaters of the Yukon River to Nome. Pillsbury photographed John Muir, then on the Harrison Cruise. Both men loved Yosemite. Muir chose Pillsbury in 1911 to supply the photos for the last book he wrote during his lifetime, "The Yosemite."
Back in Anchorage, A.C.'s father, Dr. Harlin Henry Pillsbury, recovered from the ship wreck they survived on their way north, was busy playing chess and practicing medicine, in equal proportions. The next Christmas saw the two back in San Francisco celebrating the season with family and friends. A.C.'s father stayed home the next year when AC returned to Alaska for another season of photography.