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November 22 , 2010

She Rode The Rails


"She has gained a very flattering reputation as one of the finest artists in the county and her business is increasing to such an extent that the car is insufficient for her extensive work."-March 1, 1887, Nebraska Nugget

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She Rode The Rails is based on the true life of traveling photographer, Mrs. Mary Jane Wyatt. A contemporary of J. B Silvis of the Union Pacific Railroad and pioneer photographer, Solomon Butcher, she was the only woman to own and operate a traveling photograph car on a Nebraska railroad in the late 1800s. She ran studios in Roseville, IL, and in Nebraska towns for over three decades. Mary Jane took many portraits of early pioneers and western landscapes, some of which are included in this book and published for the first time.

The story unfolds as her son, Charles Sears, remembers her life. He recalls how Mary Jane began as an unwed mother working as a lowly housemaid in Ohio to become a successful traveling photographer in Nebraska. With the support of her husband, sheriff and Burlington Missouri River RR engineer, Andrew A. Wyatt, she operated several galleries in a time when women were expected to stay home.

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