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  Allen G. Wallihan, Photographer

Allen Grant Wallihan was born to Pierce and Lucy L. Flower Wallihan in Fortville, Wisconsin on June 15, 1859. His farmer father supplemented his meager income as a tailor, and his young son only received a rudimentary formal education. He was more self-taught through reading and his own life experiences. His family relocated from Wisconsin into the Colorado Territory in 1870, but returned to Wisconsin shortly thereafter. Young Allen worked for several years as a farmhand before returning to the Colorado wilderness he had loved as a child. Settling first in Leadville, Mr. Wallihan had a brief and unsuccessful career as a miner and prospector. In 1880, he moved first to Colorado Springs, and then onto Alpine, where he fared little better in mining and prospecting. The following year, he went to Routt County, where he lived on a ranch and raised horses.

While traveling through Colorado, Mr. Wallihan became acquainted with Mrs. (Mary) Augusta Higgins Farnham, who was either a widow or divorcee depending upon historical account. Twenty-two years his senior, Mrs. Farnham was also a Wisconsin native and lover of the outdoors. The couple married on April 11, 1885, and settled in Lay, Colorado, the place they would call home for the rest of their lives. Mr. Wallihan engaged in homesteading and became known for the next two decades as Lay's postmaster. He also invested in a tract of land that was rich in bituminous coal. The Wallihans were attracted to the region's ample wildlife, and began photographing animals in 1889. They ventured as close as they could to photograph the animals moving comfortably within their own habitat. Together, they learned various photographic and platemaking techniques. Mr. Wallihan published two compilations of his wildlife photographs - Hoofs, Claws and Antlers of the Rocky Mountains (1894) and Camera Shots at Big Game (1901). They proved to be more than rank amateurs when they displayed their photographs at the Paris World Exposition in 1900. Their images of Northwest Colorado were awarded a diploma as the finest photographic collection ever exhibited. They received a bronze medal for their photographs exhibited at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair.

Photo courtesy of Museum of Northwest Colorado: Augusta, A.G. Wallihan and an unknown woman, in front of the Lay Colorado Post Office

The Wallihans were avid hunters, but were acutely aware of the need for game management enforcement by the county and federal government. They often wrote columns that were published in local newspapers and national sporting magazines decrying the damage to elk and deer populations caused by excessive hunting. Mrs. Wallihan suffered a paralyzing stroke in 1922, and died a few months later. Her husband remained in Lay and remarried shortly before he died on December 14, 1935. He was buried next to his first wife and photographic partner. In his introduction to Allen Grant and Augusta Wallihan's book, Camera Shots at Big Game, Theodore Roosevelt wrote, "Mr. Wallihan is not only a good photographer, but a lover of nature and of the wild life of the wilderness. His pictures and his descriptions are good in themselves as records of a fascinating form of life which is passing away."

1901 Camera Shots at Big Game (New York: Doubleday, Page & Co.), pp. 11,

2011 Developing Animals: Wildlife and Early American Photography (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press), pp. 54-58.

1894 Hoofs, Claws and Antlers of the Rocky Mountains (Denver: Frank S. Thayer), pp. 12-14.

1907 Los Angeles Herald (URL:

2009 Moffat County History: Augusta Wallihan - A Lady of the West (URL:

2009 Moffat County History: Town of Lay Faded into History (URL:

1905 Progressive Men of Western Colorado (Chicago: A. W. Bowen and Company), pp. 137-138.

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2014-04-26 06:39:07

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