“Clear Lake Main Street on the Fourth 1885” [Clear Lake, Dakota Territory Town View Albumen].

Taken on the Fourth of July, Independence Day


Rare Clear Lake, Dakota Territory 1885 albumen photograph showing main street in Clear Lake on Independence Day, likely the earliest known photograph of this small community, now in South Dakota. ¹

Approximately twelve buildings are seen, the full extent of the town’s center. Most prominent is Dean & Hamlin’s Hardware store. One building seems to have signage for furniture.

Under loupe magnification, one sees in the far background—floating—a large wreath “Welcome” decoration, likely suspended on wire across opposite buildings. In the spirit of the patriotic occasion, over six American flags are seen.  The townsfolk are seen milling about, many on a lengthy wooden platform “sidewalk.” Various agrarian tools and wagon wheels are also seen.

Clear Lake, Dakota Territory became the county seat of Deuel County in South Dakota. In 2010 it had a little over 1200 souls residing within.


Description: “Clear Lake Main Street on the Fourth 1885” [Clear Lake, Dakota Territory Town View Albumen].

Watertown, D.[akota] T.[erritory]. [1885]. Staley… Rooms over Ousley Bro’s Store. Cabinet card, landscape format, 5½ x 8½ inches. Contemporary manuscript caption to verso. Mount with soil; photo with general soiling; some lightening; good.

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1. According to the June 2011 Gary Interstate newspaper, another July 4th, 1885 albumen photographing the first “Clear Lake, Dakota Territory Band on Main Street” is the “earliest known photograph taken in Clear Lake, Dakota Territory, and depicts the buildings on the east side of main street.” (This photograph marginally shows the town’s buildings.) Ref. Gary Inter State accessed online March 19, 2013.


Price: $150.00

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