Crédit Mobilier was an American finance and construction company established to build the Union Pacific Railroad. It was embroiled in scandal, however, when a corrupt deal between the company and members of Congress was exposed in 1872. The company had received the lucrative railroad contract after selling shares far below market value to Congressional Republicans.
The exploration and settlement of the American West coincided with the development of the medium of photography. Photographic images, reproduced in books and newspapers and available for purchase on their own, helped shape Americans’ perceptions of the West by reinforcing ideas about the region as a pristine wilderness of spectacular natural wonders; as a symbol of the future and the realization of manifest destiny; and as a land of economic opportunity, where fortunes could be made by extracting natural resources.