Wyoming Woman Photographs Life in the Mining Town of Encampment, 1889 – 1962
A Wyoming woman photographed and collected about 24,000 negatives showing her lifetime in the mining town of Encampment and other travels from 1889 to 1962.
Lora Webb Nichols lived most of her life in Encampment where she worked in the local post office, owned and published the Encampent newspaper, and other business ventures.
In 1935, she moved to Stockton, California, but returned to Encampment after retiring.
It was then that she wrote her unfinished memoirs, "I Remember : A Girl's Eye View of Early Days in the Rocky Mountains."
The entire Lora Webb Nichols photography collection is housed at the American Heritage Center (AHC) of the University of Wyoming in Laramie.
"Nichols received her first camera in 1899 at the age of 16, coinciding with the rise of the region's copper mining boom. The earliest photographs are of her immediate family, self-portraits, and landscape images of the cultivation of the region surrounding the town of Encampment. In addition to the personal imagery, the young Nichols photographed miners, industrial infrastructure, and a small town’s adjustment to a sudden, but ultimately fleeting, population increase."
Early Images 1899-1924
1925 - 1935
The Nichols family committed to staying in Encampment after the last mining and railroad work left town, started a business known as the Rocky Mountain Studio.
Above is a photograph of young men from the Civilian Conservation Corp that came to the small town in 1933.
When her youngest child reached 4 years of age and the Nichols family committed to remaining in Encampment after the last of the mining and railroad work left town. Lora Webb Nichols purchased a storefront and established the Rocky Mountain Studio in the center of Encampment, WY.
Below is a photo from another of their business ventures, a Soda Shop Fountain.
"As early as 1906, Nichols was working for hire as a photographer for industrial documentation and family portraits, developing and printing from a darkroom she fashioned in the home she shared with her husband and their children. After the collapse of the copper industry, Nichols remained in Encampment and established the Rocky Mountain Studio, a photography and photofinishing service, to help support her family. Her commercial studio was a focal point of the town throughout the 1920s and 1930s."