We had come to this dry area . . . and we had paused in it and built our houses and we were slowly creating the legend of our life. We were digging for water and we were leading streams through the dry land. We were planting and ploughing and standing in the midst of the garden that we were making.

~ William Saroyan

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A. W. Peters Collection of Fresno County

  • <b>Title:</b> A Mono mother with her two children posed for a Peters’ photo, 1896.<br/><b>Caption:</b> A.W. Peters Photograph Collection,  Fresno Historical Society Archives. <br/>
  • <b>Title:</b>  View looking down Mariposa Street in Fresno, 1894. Note the Fresno County Court House with its copper dome, that was erected on the expanded building in 1893 and destroyed in a spectacular night fire in July, 1895.<br/>
  • <b>Title:</b> The City of Fresno experienced several major floods during the1880s. This scene captures the extent of the flooding in 1884. <br/>
  • <b>Title:</b> Interior of Fresno’s San Joaquin Ice Company. Opened in 1898, the plant produced 36 tons of ice daily and could house 2,000 tons of agricultural produce in cold storage.<br/>
  • <b>Title:</b> One of Peters’ many images of the wheat harvest in Fresno County, 1880s. <br/>
  • <b>Title:</b> Peach-drying yard on a Fresno County farm, 1880s.<br/>
  • <b>Title:</b> View of the San Joaquin Electric Company’s powerhouse construction site, 1896.<br/>
  • <b>Title:</b> Workers on guy wires of the San Joaquin Power Company, circa 1900.<br/>
  • <b>Title:</b> A Mono (Monache) Indian stood for this portrait photo for Peters in 1896.<br/>
  • <b>Title:</b> Bark dwelling with Mono boy and man, captured by Peters in 1896.<br/>
  • <b>Title:</b> Lone Star School in Fresno County, 1898.<br/>
  • <b>Title:</b> A snapshot of the Peters family in their strawberry field. A. W. Peters stands on the right.<br/>

A self-taught photographer, A. W. Peters (1866-1959) produced a remarkable body of images throughout his lifetime. The glass negative collection numbering over 900 plates was donated by Peters’ son and reproduced in its entirety (archival research prints) in 1979 by Theodoratus Cultural Research. There are two subject areas that are particularly significant in documenting regional history and represent a unique primary resource: a series of images recording the construction of the San Joaquin Electric Company’s first hydroelectric power plant and a group of photographs showing the Mono (Monache) Indians during the same time period.

  • In 1895-96, Peters was hired by engineer John Eastwood to photograph the power plant’s construction near the North Fork of the San Joaquin River. He carried his camera everywhere documenting all aspects of the development from the beginning of the ditch/flume system to the holding reservoir and the powerhouse itself to the 34 miles of transmission lines.
  • During these months in the Sierra mountains, Peters made friends with the Mono (Monache) Indians and, because of these friendships, he was able to record a series of images detailing their lifestyle during a period of transition. Of particular note are the bark and grass dwellings, basketry, and individual/group portraits.

Other subject categories in the collection include Peters’ views of Fresno City, agriculture, Fresno County schools and class portraits, mountain scenes, logging, and family photos.

Last Updated Sunday, February 16, 2020 - 06:05 PM.