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Bearfoot Travel Guides Report: The Newly Invented Kodak Cameras Documented The Alaska Gold Rush

The Kodak "Brownie" camera was just coming on the scene in the Gold Rush.
We know what the Gold Rush looked like, partly because the small, hand-held film camera had just been invented. This allowed ordinary people, like miners and trappers, traipsing around the Alaska wilderness, to take photos and bring them back home. It was revolutionary, having a little camera like that. Something like the invention of the iPhone.

In 1885, George Eastman invented the flexible roll of film. This had replaced cumbersome, easy to break glass plates that required careful handling, and large cameras. The large cameras gave excellent quality photographs, and we know it mainly because it was first used extensively "in the field" to document the Civil War.

Miners in the 1898 Gold Rush.
By 1888, the first Kodak camera was invented by Eastman. And the first Brownie camera (a little snap-and-shoot) was invented by 1900, as the Gold Rush was still in full swing in Alaska. The camera cost $1.

We who followed the Gold Rush have benefited greatly from the invention of those little cameras. Many of the photographs we now have available to us, documenting the Gold Rush, were taken on the fly, by the miners themselves.

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