From 1903 to 1906, Tacoma artist Abby Williams Hill (1861-1943) painted the Pacific Northwest landscape and Yellowstone National Park for the Great Northern and Northern Pacific railroads. She was the first woman artist (and one of only a few) hired by these railroad companies. Her images were used for promotional campaigns encouraging railroad travel to the West for tourism or settlement.
Both artist and adventurer, the intrepid Hill spent months at a time camping and painting in the wilderness with her four children, wrestling with weather, animals, and other challenges to create her works. She asked to be paid in train tickets rather than cash so that she and her family could travel and she could pursue the social causes that she was passionate about.
Through a selection of paintings, sketches, and archival materials, come explore the impact that the railroad commissions had on Hill’s work. Find out how her romanticized views of uninhabited wilderness helped the railroads to shape public opinions about the West and western expansion.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website