Charles Belden Photographs Digitized

Charles Belden holding camera

Charles Belden holding camera

The American Heritage Center has completed a project to digitize the Charles Belden photographs, one of the AHC’s more prominent collections of photographs and negatives.

Most of the photographs in the collection were take in the 1920s and 1930s on the legendary Pitchfork Ranch near Meeteetse, Wyoming. Located at the base of the Absaroka Mountains, the 250,000-acre ranch provided fertile ground for Belden’s photography. By photographing cowboys and cattle against the dramatic backdrop of the Rocky Mountains, he created some of the classic images of the American West. These photographs depict everyday life on the Pitchfork Ranch, Yellowstone National Park, raising antelope, dude ranching, rodeo, and landscapes of Wyoming and the American West.

While interest in (and digitization of) this collection has in the past focused on Belden’s Western images, the collection also contains photographs from Belden’s many travels including trips to Europe, Northern California, and Panama. Belden’s European photographs capture city scenes and landscapes from Germany, Russia, Belgium, and Switzerland, among many other countries. Of particular note in Belden’s photographs from Panama are images of the construction of the Panama Canal.

The collection also contains pleasant surprises, such as photographs of the German zeppelin Hindenberg, which transported antelope from Wyoming to zoos worldwide.

Links to digitized photographs can be found in the online inventory for the collection at: To browse and search the collection in full, please access the digital collection at:

The digitization of this collection was partially funded by the Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund, which in 2010 awarded the AHC a $10,000 to digitize over 7,000 images from six of its premier photographic collections. The Charles Belden photographs were the first of the collections scanned from this grant.

–Ben Goldman, Digital Programs Manager

This entry was posted in grants, newly digitized collections, Wyoming history. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Charles Belden Photographs Digitized

  1. Shirleen Lane says:

    I have an original Charles Belden Wyoming ranch 11 x 14 photograph that needs just a little restoration. Any advice?

    • mmarcusse says:

      Shirleen, Thanks for the question. What a treasure to have! I am sending you a follow-up email with a bit more information about finding a conservator to restore the photo, but I always recommend using a professional organization to find services like this. In this case, the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works will be a great place to find a quality conservator. Conservators can be searched by location and specialty through this link:

  2. Melissa says:

    I have a couple of Charles Belden photos most likely from the 1950s. They are of the Florida sunshine girls and marked on the back. These photos belonged to his neighbors & I believe he probably gave them out as a gift. He is in one of the photos and it’s a great contrast of western and beach. They are slightly larger than 8 x 10. I don’t really know too much about them other than this. I have no idea what their value is either. I love the photos though! Did Mr. Belden have a nickname? They are also marked taken by a word I can’t decipher & Charlie

    • ahcadmin says:

      Melissa, that is really cool that you have those photos. If you are ever interested in learning the value of the photos, a professional appraiser can be found through the Appraisers Association of America at this link: Let me look into the Belden collection here and see if I can find out anything about a nickname that he might have had and how Belden signed his photos. I will reply again once I have an answer for you.

    • ahcadmin says:

      Hello again Melissa. My research has turned up that Charles Belden was known as “Charley” to people that knew him. I found this in a thesis written by a UW student in 1984 that focused on Belden and also in the winter 2001 newsletter “The Yellowstone Postcard Exchange.” I have not found any reference to other nicknames that may have Belden used. I hope that this answers your question!

    • Kathy Abarr says:

      Charles J Belden was known as Antelope Charlie in Wyoming and changed it to Seahorse Charlie when he moved to Florida. Kathy Abarr – Granddaughter. His daughter Annice is my mother.

      • ahcadmin says:

        Thanks, Kathy. The Belden photographs are a real favorite with patrons at the American Heritage Center. We’re honored to house them.

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