Miners using a sluice box at Auburn Ravine<br /> in Placer County, c. 1852.
Miners using a sluice box at Auburn Ravine in Placer County, c. 1852.

The iconic Gold Rush photographs of Joseph B. Starkweather (1822-1904) can be found in many history books. Traveling through Placer and Nevada counties, Starkweather photographed Gold Country settlements and miners hard at work. This series of images provides unique insight into the daily lives of “Forty-Niners” and won him a silver medal at the Fifteenth Industrial Exhibition of the Mechanics’ Institute of San Francisco in 1880.

Born in New York, Starkweather permanently relocated to California in 1867. He operated the California Photographic Gallery with partner T. C. Lancy for two years before opening a studio with his son, Herbert J. Starkweather, instead. Little else is known about Starkweather’s personal life, and he does not appear in public records after 1904.

Ambrotype Gallery