Southern Methodist University

On the Kansas Pacific Railway

A Guide to the Collection



Overview

Creator: Benecke, Robert
Title: On the Kansas Pacific Railway
Inclusive Dates: 1873
Abstract: On the Kansas Pacific Railway, consists of a series of photographs by Robert Benecke (1835-1903), taken along the Kansas Pacific line for the railroad company. Included are views of Kansas, Colorado, and Missouri of railroads, depots, machine shops, roundhouses, locomotive with snow plow, bridges, towns, landscapes, buffalo hunters, cattle, horse race track, the University of Kansas, and a Kansas Pacific Railway "buffalo head" advertising photograph. Also, includes a posed studio self-portrait of photographer Robert Benecke holding a rifle.
Accession No: Vault Ag1982.0086
Extent: 2 boxes; 62 photographic prints; 1 album cover
Language: Material is in English
Repository DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University

Biographical Note

Robert Benecke

Robert Benecke (1835-1903) was born in Stiege, Germany. He attended the gymnasium in Blankenburg and volunteered for the army, 1854-55. While he was enlisted, he saw a display of daguerreotypes and ambrotypes that piqued his interest. Later, he briefly became a government forester, but immigrated to the United States with his family in 1856, and settled in Brunswick, Missouri. There he worked at a variety of jobs: farmer, cooper, piano tuner, and also taught languages at a local seminary. He then formed a partnership with Joseph Keyte who was a landscape painter, and E. Meier, a traveling daguerreotypist. After joining the firm, Benecke learned to make daguerreotypes and contributed articles to Henry Hunt Snelling’s Fine Art Journal. Benecke and Keyte advertised making ambrotypes and photographs, 1858-1859. When the partnership was dissolved, Snelling found Benecke a position as a daguerreotypist in Knoxville, Tennessee, where he lived for two years, but by 1860, Benecke was working in St. Louis. When the Civil War broke out, Benecke joined the 18th Regiment, Missouri Volunteers. After less than a year’s service, he sustained an eye injury and was discharged. He returned to St. Louis late in 1861, and soon after formed a partnership with Hermann E. Hoelke. They bought the Enoch Long Gallery on the southeast corner of Fourth and Market Streets, where they were known for "portraiture and viewing." Benecke married Mary Koenig in November, 1865. At the St. Louis Fairs in 1867 and 1868, the partners won first prize for the best stereographs and best photographic views. Their partnership was dissolved around 1869.

In late October 1873, Benecke traveled from Kansas City to Denver, commissioned by the Kansas Pacific Railway to photograph sites of interest for the company’s promotional use. He arrived in Denver mid-November having made approximately 100 negatives of towns, depots, landscapes, and rivers. These prints make up the bulk of the DeGolyer Library set of plates.

In 1870s Benecke became interested in photomechanical printing. In 1872, he began making artotypes and collotypes. In Germany in 1883, he learned zinc etching and photogravure. He also began to make his own photographic dry plates for use in his studio. Gustav Cramer, a St. Louis dry plate manufacturer, offered him a job as chemist and plant superintendent in 1886 where he served for many years. Benecke died November 3, 1903. He was survived by his widow, Mary Koenig Benecke and four children.

Sources:

Benecke Family Papers, 1816-1989, n.d. (C3825), Western Historical Manuscript Collection – Columbia. http://whmc.umsystem.edu/invent/desc-german.html

Palmquist, Peter E. and Thomas R. Kailbourn, "Benecke, Robert (135-1903)," Pioneer Photographers from the Mississippi to the Continental Divide, a Biographical Dictionary, 1839-1865. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2005, pp. 102-104.

Van Raveswaay, Charles, "Checklist of St. Louis Photographers, 1841-1865," Bulletin Missouri Historical Society, v. 10, October, 1953, pp. 52-53.

Philadelphia Photographer, v. 11, May 1874, p. 160, mentions some of Benecke’s 8 x 10-inch photographs for the Kansas Pacific Railway were received there.

"Photographic dry plate testing, Mr. Robert Benecke," Science, v. 11, Jan.-June, 1900, p. 352.

"Spec.," Line etchings : a trip from the Missouri River to the Rocky Mountains, via the Kansas Pacific Railway. Saint Louis: Woodward, Tiernan & Hale, 1875.

St. Louis Photographer v. 1 no. 1 (Jan. 1883), frontispiece artotype portrait of John H. Fitzgibbon by Benecke.


Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Robert Benecke album was purchased by Everett L. DeGolyer, Jr. in 1969. The album was not in its original binding but had been rebound in buckram in the twentieth century. Because the album cover was not original, and the materials had conservation issues, the album was dis-bound. There are 62 plates in the Benecke set with the series title, On the Kansas Pacific Railway. All photographs are albumen prints mounted back to back and measure 8 x 10-inches. They are housed in sequential order from plate number 1 to 64. Plates 31, 46, and 48 are missing. Also included is an unnumbered studio self-portrait of Benecke holding a rifle. The photographs are promotional views commissioned by the Kansas Pacific Railway on a trip in the fall of 1873. The photographs start in Kansas City, Missouri at the company headquarters and end in Denver, Colorado. Included are topographical views, cityscapes, and landscapes.


 

Arrangement of the Collection

The collection is organized into 1 series:
Series 1: Series I: Photographic prints
Album Cover

Restrictions

Access to Collection:

Collection is open for research use.

Publication Rights:

Permission to publish materials must be obtained from the Director of the DeGolyer Library.

Copyright Statement:

It is the responsibility of the user to obtain copyright authorization.


Access Terms

This collection is indexed under the following terms in the Southern Methodist University Libraries' online catalog. Researchers desiring related materials may search the catalog using these terms.
Benecke, Robert.
Photography of railroads -- West (U.S.)
Railroads -- West (U.S.) -- Photographs.
U.S. (West) -- Photographs.
Photographs.
Albumen prints.
Kansas Pacific Railway Company.

Related Material

Benecke, Robert and Benecke & Holke. Stereographs of Missouri and Mississippi. Ag2006.0004.

Gardner, Alexander. Across the continent on the Kansas Pacific Railroad : route of the 35th parallel. 1867-1868. Vault Ag1982.0214x.

Select images have been digitized here.


Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

On the Kansas Pacific Railway, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University.

Acquisition Information

Purchase, 1969.

Processing Information

The collection was received in an album rebound in buckram in the 20th century. The photographs had been numbered in their album order at a later date in pencil on the lower left corner of the mount. For conservation reasons, the album was subsequently dis-bound. The order of the photographs in the rebound album did not correspond with the caption numbers on the prints. The prints were reorganized in the photographer’s print number sequence on the photographs which also reflects the order in which the photographer made the images during the trip for the railroad in 1873 going from Kansas City, Missouri to Denver, Colorado.

Finding aid written by

Anne E. Peterson, 2010.

Encoded by

Lara Corazalla, 2010.


Detailed Description of the Collection

 

Series 1:
On the Kansas Pacific Railway
2 Boxes

Box 1: 62 photographic prints (numbers in parentheses at the end of entries below indicate arrangement number in the rebound album)
Benecke_No.
1 General Offices of the Kansas Pacific Railway corner Fifth Street and Broadway, Kansas City, Mo. (59)
Benecke_No.
2 Taxidermist’s Department of the Kansas Pacific Railway.
Buffalo Heads used for advertising Purposes. (60)
Benecke_No.
3 General view of Kansas City, Mo., from corner of Tenth Street and Broadway. (61)
Benecke_No.
4 Railway Bridge over the Missouri River at Kansas City, Mo. (62)
Benecke_No.
5 Railway Bridge over the Kansas River near Kansas City, Missouri. (55)
Benecke_No.
6 General view of the Kansas Pacific Railway. (56)
Benecke_No.
7 Machine Shops at Armstrong, Kansas. (57)
Benecke_No.
8 Roundhouse at Armstrong, Kansas. (58)
Benecke_No.
9 General view Lawrence, Kansas. (51)
Benecke_No.
10 State University of Kansas, on Mount Oread, Lawrence, Kansas. (52)
Benecke_No.
11 Stud Farm and Race Track, Lawrence, Kansas. (53)
Benecke_No.
12 Passenger Bridge over the Kansas River and Waterworks Dam in course of construction, Lawrence, Kansas. (54)
Benecke_No.
13 Hotel and railway station Topeka, Kansas. (47)
Benecke_No.
14 Passenger Bridge over the Kansas River, Topeka, Kansas. (48)
Benecke_No.
15 The Mid-day Rest. Quail shooting at S. George. (49)
Benecke_No.
16 The Valley of the Kansas River looking East from St. George, Kansas. (50)
Benecke_No.
17 The Kansas River, looking West from St. George. (43)
Benecke_No.
18 Manhattan, Kansas. Taken from the summit of Mount Prospect. (44)
Benecke_No.
19 Bridge over the Blue River, Manhattan, Kansas. (45)
Benecke_No.
20 Kansas River and Passenger Bridge looking west, Manhattan, Kansas. (46)
Benecke_No.
21 Valley of the Kansas River from Mount Prospect, Manhattan, Kansas. (39)
Benecke_No.
22 The Texas Cattle Trade. Train of Empty Stock Cars at Junction City, Kansas. (40)
Benecke_No.
23 Freight Engine number 22. (41)
Benecke_No.
24 Railway and Passenger Bridge over the Republican River, Junction City, Kansas. (42)
Benecke_No.
25 Junction of the Kansas Pacific and Junction City and Fort Kearney Railways Junction City, Kansas. (35)
Benecke_No.
26 Grist Mill at Solomon City, Kansas. (36)
Benecke_No.
27 Falls of the Solomon River at Solomon City Kansas. (37)
Benecke_No.
28 Salt Works at Solomon City, Kansas. (38)
Benecke_No.
29 Brookville, Kansas. (31)
Benecke_No.
30 Kansas Pacific Railway Roundhouse and Company’s Buildings at Brookville, Kansas. (32)
Benecke_No.
32 Mushroom Rocks at Elm Creek. (34)
Benecke_No.
33 Ellsworth, the great shipping point for Texas Cattle. (27)
Benecke_No.
34 Stock Yards and Shuts for loading cattle at Ellsworth, Kansas. (28)
Benecke_No.
35 Frouher Settlements. No. 1 Wilson, 240 Miles west of the Missouri River. (29)
Benecke_No.
36 Arboriculture on the prairie - 2 ½ years from the Seed at Wilson, Kansas. (30)
Benecke_No.
37 View on the Smoky Hill River at Wilson, Captain Matthew’s House and Coal Mine Bluff. (23)
Benecke_No.
38 Coal Canon at Wilson, Kansas. (24)
Benecke_No.
39 Frontier Settlements, Bunker Hill. (25)
Benecke_No.
40 Valley of Cedar Creek, Bunker Hill, Kansas. (26)
Benecke_No.
41 The "Burnt City" near Bunker Hill, Kansas. (19)
Benecke_No.
42 Valley of the Saline River and old Buffalo Trails near Bunker Hill, Kansas. (20)
Benecke_No.
43 No. 3, Russell, Kansas. (21)
Benecke_No.
44 View on Big Creek, Russell, Kansas. (22)
Benecke_No.
45 Duck Shooting on Big Creek, Russell, Kansas. (33)
Benecke_No.
47 General view of Victoria Railway Bridge over North Fork of Victoria River. (15)
Benecke_No.
49 Railway Hotel at Ellis, built of stone from the Ellis Quarry. (13)
Benecke_No.
50 Quarry of White Magnesium Limestone at Ellis, Kansas. (16)
Benecke_No.
51 The "Hog Back" at Ellis, Kansas. (17)
Benecke_No.
52 Kansas Pacific Railway Roundhouse at Ellis, Kansas (14)
Benecke_No.
53 Main Street of Ellis, Kansas. (11)
Benecke_No.
54 The Kansas Pacific Railway Photograph car at Ellis, Kansas. (18)
Benecke_No.
55 In Case of Emergency. Snow Plow. (9)
Benecke_No.
56 Buffalo Hunters’ Home at Sheridan, Kas. (12)
Benecke_No.
57 Wallace Station and Railway Hotel 400 miles west of the Mississippi River. (7)
Benecke_No.
58 Carson, the Northern Terminus of the Arkansas Valley R.W. (10)
Benecke_No.
59 Railway Hotel and Station at Hugo, Colorado. (5)
Benecke_No.
60 Kansas Pacific Railway Depot at Denver, Colorado. (8)
Benecke_No.
61 General View of Denver looking North-west. (1)
Benecke_No.
62 Highland View Hotel and Denver looking East. (6)
Benecke_No.
63 Kansas Pacific Railway machine shops at Denver. (3)
Benecke_No.
64 Wild Buffalo in Colorado. (4)
Benecke_No.
[none] Benecke, Robert – studio self-portrait with rifle. (2)
Box 2: Album cover