The first of a two part story about the man who split the second, and saved the evidence.
This is the first part of a story that combines art, technology, industry, science, and horses. In this episode, we take a look at 19th Century America, through the lens of a burgeoning technology. Abby draws together threads from the personal life of Eadweard Muybridge, the early years of the State of California, the construction of the transcontinental railroad, and of course a study of their connection to horses.
The landscape photographer known as Helios was known by many names over time, each one representing a different phase of his life’s adventure: Edward Muggeridge, Ted Muggeridge, Edward Muygridge, Edward Muybridge, “Helios” (the pseudonym with which he signed his photos), and finally, the Anglo-Saxon spelling Eadweard Muybridge. His personal life was not by any means a level path, but he eventually became a household name – more than once.
Our backdrop is the Gilded Age: set in the early years of the western coast of the United States, during a time of rapidly advancing technologies, this story is folded into the construction of the transcontinental railroad, through California Governor Leland Stanford. As President of the Central Pacific Railroad, Stanford was instrumental in the project, which seized the opportunity provided by the Civil War to tie California firmly to the Union states with an iron cord.
Stanford’s prized horse was a world record holder in 1873, but his parents were pretty much unknown, so his time was not recorded in the breed records for the year. His lifetime record is given in several places as 2:16 ¾. Having never made the record books for his race times on the track, Occident was about to trot his way into a different sort of history.
Of course, there is also a study of the connection of these men to our friend the horse – this time, through its gaits and movement. The horses in this story belonged to Leland Stanford. The reason they matter to us now is because of Eadweard Muybridge’s imagination, intelligence, and focus.
Sources for this episode
The opera “The Photographer: a music-drama in three acts” was composed by Philip Glass and is available at Philip Glass’s website
Ball, E. (2013). The Inventor and the Tycoon: a Gilded Age Murder and the Birth of Moving Pictures. New York: Doubleday.
Available from amazon.com in Kindle, Hardcover, Paperback, and Audible audiobook editions.
Documents retrieved from the Internet:
About the Camera Obscura:
Leggat, R. (1995). A History of Photography from its beginnings till the 1920s. Retrieved on March 3, 2017 from
Shimamura, A. P. (2002). Muybridge in Motion: travels in art, psychology, and neurology. History of Photography, 26, 341-350. Retrieved March 4, 2017, from
“The Old Timer”. (1929). Tales of Trotting Champions. Trotter and Pacer Magazine, September 9, 1929. Retrieved March 4, 2017, from
CPRR. (2014). Central Pacific Railroad Photographic History Museum. Retrieved March 4, 2017, from
Ricky Bloxsom, Visual Design and Website Development
Lanin’s Southern Serenaders, “Shake It and Break It”, Antique Phonograph Recording
Christian Gundermann, Show Notes
Beth Linnetz, Quality Review
Content Critique Team: