These two photographs came to me separately and so long ago I can’t remember the source. They both show tourists posed in front of Balanced Rock, in the Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs, Colorado. Both photos are 4.5 by 7.5 inches in size and mounted on cardboard backgrounds.
The photograph with the ladies (and two gentlemen) has printed on the cardboard mounting: “Balanced Rock, Garden of the Gods. Weight, 600 tons.” But someone has written in pencil below that “California, 1883”. The “California” part is wrong, so the date may be as well.
The second photograph-- of three men on donkeys-- has printed in the photograph “Balanced Rock, May 8th, 1903”, so I suspect that date is correct. The second photograph is numbered 3450 and the first one 208.
I love how serious the ladies are, standing without fear that the huge rock would decide to topple over on them. I especially like the elderly lady cuddling the baby donkey. The woman perched sidesaddle in the foreground does not have a divided skirt for riding, but someone has suggested to me that a lady in the back row does. It’s hard to tell. I love all their flowered hats as well.
The three men in the second photo all have dapper mustaches and seem quite pleased with themselves as they pose for the photographer.
On the back of the second photo is printed “Paul Goerke & Son Photographers at the Balanced Rock, Rainbow Falls and Manitou Ave.
Office next to Barker Hotel. Manitou, Colorado
Duplicates of this picture can be had at any time. Price 25 cents each postpaid. Order by the number on the picture.
Prices for Bromide Enlargement given on Application.”
Professional photographers setting up their large cameras on tripods could make a good living photographing tourists at sites like this in the days before cameras and photography were available to amateurs.
Niagara Falls was especially popular with tourists and professional photographers at the dawn of photography-- in the 1840’s and 1850’s. If you find in your attic a full-plate daguerreotype of your great-great grandparents posed in front of Niagara Falls on their honeymoon, you can probably sell it for a small fortune.