This photograph of the City of Rocks area (an area of volcanic rock formations today known as City of Rocks State Park near the Mimbres river in southwest New Mexico) was taken by William Abraham Bell in 1867. The photograph shows a number of different rock formations spread across the landscape, with a wagon and the silhouette of a man standing on a rock visible on the right side of the image.
In 1867-1868, the Kansas Pacific Railway Company (originally known as the Union Pacific Railroad Eastern Division) organized an expedition to survey potential railroad routes from Kansas to California. There were two expedition parties sent through Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and southern California led by General William Jackson Palmer (1836-1909). Doctor and amateur photographer William Abraham Bell (1841-1921) and professional photographer Alexander Gardner (1821-1882) were appointed to photograph the expedition. Bell traveled primarily with the expedition along the 32nd parallel ending in San Diego. After the survey, Bell was a prominent businessman in the United States and Colorado. He built and operated the Denver and Rio Grande Railway with Palmer and was involved in many other coal, mining, and business ventures.
Gift of Estate of William A. Bell