Now and then: John Fielder has recreated dozens of historical photos around Colorado

screen-shot-2016-11-16-at-1-27-12-pm

John Fielder is best known for his original compositions of Colorado’s fantastic landscapes, which you may have seen at his gallery on Santa Fe —  but he’s not afraid to follow in the footsteps of giants too.

In the late 1990s, the photographer and naturalist drove thousands of miles and hiked hundreds around Colorado as he reconstructed hundreds of photos by William H. Jackson. The following photos are excerpted from his Colorado: 1870-2000 books, which contain hundreds of these pairs. Together, they show how fast Colorado’s cities have changed and how its landscapes have endured.

Downtown Denver:

A view of the Brown Palace at the intersection of 17th Street and Broadway.


Fielder had already published 20 photography and guide books about Colorado by 1998. People had suggested by then that he try to replicate some of the work of Enos Mills, a photographer who worked in Colorado through the late 1800s and early 1900s.

“I always said, ‘No, why would I want to copy someone else?’” he recalls. But he eventually reconsidered, selecting 300 of the most images from History Colorado’s collection of work by William H. Jackson. It paid off: His comparison photos became one of the best-selling books about the region ever published, he says.

Douglas County:

Arrowhead Golf Club in Douglas County.

This was no small undertaking. “In 1998, I drove 25,000 miles and backpacked another 500 in order to stand exactly where Jackson stood. From 300 different vantage points, I pointed my camera in exactly the same direction as Jackson once had in order to reveal the changes in the Colorado landscape that have occurred over more than a century,” he writes.

Central City:


Fielder initially published 156 pairs of photos in Colorado 1870-2000. Now in its second edition, it also features commentary by historian Tom Noel. There’s also a second volume with hundreds more photos.

The Broadmoor Casino in Colorado Springs:


“From Denver to Georgetown and Aspen to Mesa Verde, the difference in Colorado’s historic towns and settlements is often remarkable and in some cases shocking. On the other hand, many of Jackson’s original venues look much as they did a hundred years ago,” he writes.

The boulder field below Longs Peak:


If you end up purchasing a book, Fielder will be touring Barnes & Nobles stores on the Front Range in the first couple weeks of December 2016. More details at JohnFielder.com.

A cattle ranch transforms into the U.S. 50 along the Cimarron River:

The rising water beneath Chipeta Falls at Morrow Point Reservoir in Black Canyon of the Gunnison:

From the city of Creede:

The taming of Glenwood Canyon:

Rails to roads near Telluride at Lizard Head Pass:

But the mountains prevail:

Maroon Bells

Mount of the Holy Cross

And so does Mesa Verde:

Lastly, the photographers:

Andrew Kenney

Author: Andrew Kenney

Andrew Kenney writes about public spaces, Denver phenomena and whatever else. He previously worked for six years as a reporter at The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C. His most prized possession is his collection of bizarre voicemail. Leave him one at 303-502-2803, or email akenney@denverite.com.