Developing the Pacific Northwest: The Life and Work of Asahel Curtis (Paperback)
Asahel Curtis arrived on the Puget Sound in 1888. The teenager labored on farms and later in his brother Edward's successful Seattle photography studio. By 1895 his extended family resided together in the city. With their support, Asahel set out for Skagway, Alaska, in 1897. Armed with a box camera, he captured numerous images of the Klondike gold rush, recording the trail, miners, gold creeks, and Dawson City. After he returned home in 1899 he found himself at odds with Edward over those very photographs, leading to a lifelong estrangement.
Asahel formed a studio with William P. Romans, and in time opened the Asahel Curtis Photo Co. Although he earned his living as a commercial photographer, his major focus was outside the camera. He married Florence Etta Carney and in 1907 purchased a small, irrigated Yakima Valley farm. Asahel did not drive, but he became a dedicated good roads movement member. With a goal of economic development and increased Washington tourism, he battled issues surrounding highway beautification, crumbling roads caused by a burgeoning trucking industry, an international highway connecting Puget Sound with Alaska, and Yellowstone Trail Association activities. Asahel held an enduring passion for Mount Rainier, and climbed its spectacular heights on multiple occasions. A founder of the Seattle Mountaineers Club, he also chaired the Mount Rainier Advisory Board, vigorously fighting for the advancement of Mount Rainier National Park.
Developing the Pacific Northwest is the first full-length biography of the photographer/booster/mountaineer. Along with comparisons to work by his brother and other contemporaries, the author devotes attention to Asahel's earlier years, his family and business relationships, his involvement with irrigation and cooperative marketing in eastern Washington, and his beliefs about resource development. Together, they provide a comprehensive study of this premier Pacific Northwest photographer.