Carleton E. Watkins was born on November 11, 1829, the eldest of eight children. At the age of 22, Watkins moved to San Franciso and discovered his love of photography. Ten years later, Watkins made a decision that not only changed his career, but perhaps the whole future of the the American wilderness.
Traveling to Yosemite with a plate camera that shot massive 18″x22″ glass plates, and a stereoscopic camera, Watkins produced some of the first photographs of Yosemite to be seen in the Eastern USA. Some of those photographs made their way past the eyes of Abraham Lincoln, who consequently signed the Yosemite Grant Act, regarded by many to be the birth of the National Parks system.