Images of Other Lost US Camera Obscuras in Our Collection


Angel's Flight Incline Railroad and Camera Obscura, Los Angeles, California

Another reference to a "lost" camera obscura is the advertising card on the right for the Angel's Flight incline railroad in Los Angeles. Below is the text from the back of the card. Before we found this card on eBay we had seen no reference to a camera obscura at this location. It was located on the observation tower seen at the top of the incline. The card is not dated but seems to be from near the 1901 opening of this attraction. We have since discovered that after being closed in the1960s the incline was relocated and opened again in 1996.

Below are two postcards of the incline with the tower at the top. On the vertical card below the camera obscura building can be clearly seen on the platform. A close up of this area is below it. The horizontal card shows the addition of metal arches over the tracks as on the advertising card on the right and a more elaborate planting of the area next to the railway.

Any contemporaneous references to this camera obscura would be welcome.

Two Lost Camera Obscuras by Floyd Jennings
The Giant Camera in San Francisco was the second camera obscura we visited. We learned that Floyd Jennings, the designer of that venerable insturment built two other camera obscuras in the United States. An information filled page is hosted by the San Francisco area Western Neighborhood Project on the Giant Camera. It has the most information we have found on the camera obscuras by Floyd Jennings and his assistant, Gene Turtle at the Garden of the Gods in Colorado, and Lookout Mountain, Tennessee. Unfortunately they are both now gone but, as the memorabilia below shows, not forgotten.
Garden of the Gods Camera Obscura, Colorado

When we created this site in 1997 we received many emails from people telling us that there was a camera obscura in the Garden of the Gods park in Colorado. We knew about its existence because we were given the brochure on the right several years ago by a friend who had visited it. It was on our "must see" list until we learned it had been closed in the 1980s. We have not found any information on the final resting place of the optics and mechanism.

The brochure states that the lens has a thirteen-foot focal length and projects a 360° panoramic view of the Garden of the Gods and the Pikes Peak region.

We have since found two postcards that show the building at High Point with the camera obscura turret on the roof. They show the building from two sides. The card on the left below shows a sign reading "CAMERA OBSCURA" and the card on the right reads "Giant Viewer" on the smaller sign.

The link above to the Western Neighborhood Project page states that is opened in 1955 and quotes an interview with Gene Turtle that the same casts were used to mold the mounting and other components of the both the Garden of the Gods and the Lookout Mountain instruments.

Rock City Camera Obscura, Lookout Mountain, Tennessee

We were able to locate a copy of the April 25, 1960 Life magazine mentioned by Turtle. A foldout cover shows a group at Rock City on Lookout Mountain. In the background can be seen the roof and cupola of the camera obscura. We were delighted to find it but were somewhat disappointed that the article did not have any mention of the camera obscura.

Recently on eBay we found a large lot of advertising material. Among the numerous items we noticed a black and white brochure on the Rock City camera obscura. Eureka!

The undated brochure is a 8 1/2 X 11 1/2 inch folded sheet that discusses the history and development of the camera obscura. It was written by E. Y. Chapin, III.

The back of the brochure is called "Technical Talk" and discusses the lens (150 inch focal length), the viewing table (6 feet 9 inches across), and other technical details about the camera.

The Western Neighborhood site (from the link above on this page) states that the Rock City camera obscura was dismantled and given to Covenant College in Tennessee some time in the early 1970s. We plan to contact the present owner of Rock City and the college in the search of additional material.



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What is a camera obscura?

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Frequently Asked Questions about the Camera Obscura (please check this page before sending email questions)

Links and a Bibliography about the camera obscura

Map and illustrated diary of
our visits to
US camera obscuras

Map and illustrated diary of
our 1996 trip to
Great Britain camera obscuras

Images of camera obscuras from our collection.

Some Images from our collection
The Camera Obscura at War
Advertising flyer for a Camera Obscura
Trade Cards with Camera Obscuras
Lost UK Seaside Camera Obscuras
Other Lost UK Camera Obscuras
Lost US Seaside Camera Obscura
Lost US Park Camera Obscuras
Other Lost US Camera Obscuras < You are here
Melville Garden Camera Obscura
Lost European Camera Obscuras
No, it's not a camera obscura

Portable and box camera obscuras from our collection.
Wooden Camera Obscuras
Metal Camera Obscuras
Camera Obscuras with the Lens at the Top
Cardboard Camera Obscuras
A French Artist's Camera with supplies
Vermeer's Camera, a 1934 teaching camera
Camera Obscura Publications

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Modified 8/2004