Where Exactly Was Mark Twain Photographed?

This historic photograph shows a young Mark Twain in top hat signing autographs at Piedmont White Sulphur Springs in 1867. We're asking readers to help us pinpoint exactly where it was taken. Do you know?

In 1867, famous English photographer Eadweard Muybridge photographed famous American writer Mark Twain at "Piedmont White Sulphur Springs."

The photo, from the Joseph R. Knowland collection of the Oakland History Room at the Oakland Public Library, shows Twain in top hat signing autographs. An arrow pointing to Twain was added by graphic artists at the Oakland Tribune, according to library records.

Muybridge is perhaps best remembered for his successive-frame photography capturing human and animal movement, and is credited with proving that a running horse can have all four hooves in the air at once.

We're asking readers to help us pinpoint the exact location of where this photo was taken. If you know or have a good guess, please tell us in comments.

Julie Bartlett February 13, 2013 at 07:26 PM
In the Blue Ridge Mountains, Piedmont North Carolina http://www.whitesulphurspringsnc.com/history/hotel.html
Charles Burress (Editor) February 13, 2013 at 09:06 PM
Well, it's true that there is a White Sulphur Springs there, but the "Piedmont White Sulphur Springs" of this photo was in Oakland, according to the records at the Oakland Public Library. The photo was taken before our Piedmont existed as a city. (It was formed in 1907.)
Sandy Margolin February 13, 2013 at 10:08 PM
It looks to me like the bottom of Piedmont Park.
Warren Crandall February 13, 2013 at 10:44 PM
Yes, it's at the bottom of the trail at Piedmont Park, right where the Wildwood Playground now is.
Steve Berl February 13, 2013 at 10:52 PM
Are there any other old pictures that might include that gazebo in the collection? That would be helpful.
Tom Gandesbery February 14, 2013 at 01:47 AM
While it is assumed it was in what we now call Piedmont Park (where the little grotto was reconstructed perhaps?), I have also seen reference to a resort and springs that existed somewhere in the drainage below what is now Coaches' Field.
Jim Baack February 14, 2013 at 05:12 AM
Here is a link to a better version of the image http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/FindingAids/dynaweb/calher/muyfind/figures/I0022778A.jpg
Charles Burress (Editor) February 16, 2013 at 08:06 PM
That's a much better version! Thanks for posting that.
Charles Burress (Editor) February 16, 2013 at 08:11 PM
The Smithsonian catalog lists a slide of 1900 postcard showing the grotto, though I did not see an image of it: http://collections.si.edu/search/results.htm?q=record_ID:siris_arc_201208. And former Piedmont City Clerk Ann Swift says it can be seen "on the front cover of the original 1878 prospectus for lots in Piedmont Park, the original city subdivision."
Warren Crandall February 19, 2013 at 02:28 AM
Steve Berl I have in fact seen other photos that include the trellis/gazebo in this picture. The exact spot is still identifiable today if you go there and look around for a few minutes.
JayR February 22, 2013 at 07:03 PM
Though it doesn't pinpoint the spot, this 1877 map of the Oakland area does show the White Sulfur Springs (if you zoom in, there appears to be a short dashed line directly left of the lettering, which presumably is the actual "sulfur springs") http://imgzoom.cdlib.org/Fullscreen.ics?ark=ark:/13030/kt9g5028qh/z1&&brand=calisphere
JayR February 22, 2013 at 07:19 PM
This georeferenced version would place it in Piedmont Park, above the field. http://teczno.com/old-oakland/


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