Lora Webb Nichols (1883-1962) was born and grew up in the small mining town of Encampment, Wyoming. In 1899 at the age of 16 Lora received her first camera from her future husband Bert Oldman, whom she married in 1900. At that time, her community was experiencing a boom due to the copper industry taking off. She began photographing her family, herself, and the landscapes around Encampment. There were many opportunities to photograph the lifestyles of the miners and the industry that was taking place around her. Nichols began working as a photographer for hire around 1907 through portraiture and industry photography. In 1910 she divorced Bert and married her first cousin Guy Nichols in 1914. By that time, the copper industry had collapsed. Nichols opened Rocky Mountain Studio in Encampment in 1925, which she operated for ten years. Her photography helped supplement the family’s income. During her lifetime she accumulated 24,000 negatives that illustrate the lifestyles of the people living in a frontier area. Her studio became a prominent part of the community throughout the 1920s and 1930s. In 1935, Lora moved to Stockton, California, for health reasons.
Shown are selections of Nichols' photographic work up to 1935 when she ended her commercial photography business in Encampment. Additional photographs in her papers can be found in the American Heritage Center's digital collections.
"Boys in clown suits: McNamara, Tillou, Lordier," ca. 1899
Thanksgiving Masquerade in Encampment, Wyoming.
Ed Wood as a washer-woman, ca. 1899
Thanksgiving Masquerade in Encampment, Wyoming.
Group in costumes, ca. 1899
Thanksgiving Masquerade in Encampment, Wyoming
Carrie Hinman by front door, 1899
Nichols's early portrait work featuring a girl standing in front of a log cabin at Willow Glen. Taken at Willow Glen.
Carrie and Aunt Nan [Hinman] in living room, 1899
Carrie and Aunt Nan [Hinman] sitting in rocking chairs and relaxing in their living room. Carrie is reading a book. Saratoga, Wyoming.
Frank J. Lordier, Druggist, 1899
Lordier was a druggist in Encampment, Wyoming, who filled prescriptions and sold paint and stationery. At the time he was also an assayer. Encampment was a booming center of copper mining and smelting. As an assayer, Lordier would have tested ores and minerals and analyzed them to determine composition and value.
Ashley's Lodging House, 1899
Lodging House in Encampment, Wyoming.
Byron Tillou on horse and J.D. Tillou on sidewalk, 1899
In 1898, J. D. Tillou became secretary and treasurer of the new Grand Encampment Mercantile Company which supplied groceries, tobaccos, tin ware, men’s clothing, and mining supplies. In 1900, he was president and general manager of the Elk Mountain Mining & Milling Company.
"Home Sweet Home," 1900
The Nichols's family site "Willow Glen." This photo features their log cabin with a wagon parked on the left-hand side of the frame. The Snowy Range Mountains are visible in the background.
Family Portrait, January 1, 1900
Uncle Platt, Carrie, [Hinman] Mother, Aunt Nan, Dad [Horace Nichols] posing in front of a log cabin. Snow is visible on the roof. Taken at Willow Glen.
Mother (Sylvia Wilson Nichols) with Mac, 1900
Nichols's mother, Sylvia Wilson Nichols, with dog "Mac," in front of a log cabin. Taken at Willow Glen.
Babies lined up on a burro, 1900
Three babies sitting in a line on a burro/donkey as their parents hold them in place, with a log cabin in the background.
Picnic in the woods, 1900
A young woman and two young men dressed in formal attire lounge in the woods enjoying a picnic. Only the one man seems to have spotted the camera, giving the photo a "caught unawares" feel.
Maggie Nichols on Guy Nichols's pony "Bob," 1900
Lora's cousin Maggie.
Lora Nichols and her cat "Yankee Doodle," February 6, 1900
Taken at Willow Glen.
Henry Herring, Annie Hickok, Lindy Herring, May 10, 1900
A woman helps a baby (Henry Herring) pose for the camera while another woman smiles and watches from behind.
Lora Nichols and Bert Oldman in yard at ranch. May 31, 1900
Bert Oldman and Lora in the yard at Willow Glen. The couple married at her parents’ home on October 15, 1900, a few days before Lora's 17th birthday.
Lora Nichols, June 26, 1900
Lora posing with her Kodak box camera. She captioned this photograph "Snap Shot Sal."
Maggie Nichols, Guy Nichols, Carrie Hinman, July 11, 1900
Lora's cousins Maggie, Guy, and Carrie. Little did Lora know at the time that Guy would become her second husband in 1914.
Charley Fait and horse-drawn wagon - rack, November 3,1900
Charley Fait standing on a wagon being pulled by a freight team of four horses.
Sis (Lizzie Nichols) playing, 1901
Lora's sister Lizzie on the porch at Willow Glen.
"Cosy Cottage," January 27, 1901
Outside view Lora and Bert Oldman's wooden cottage in Encampment not long after their wedding. Lora referred to it as the "Cosy Cottage."
Mrs. Cluff in the dining room of her home in Saratoga, Wyoming, January 3, 1902
Elva with Lora Nichols Oldman, February 1, 1902
Lora Nichols (now going by her married name of Oldman), pictured on the right, is dressed up in a suit belonging to a man named Clark.
Bert in the living room at Cosy Cottage, February 19, 1902
Lora's husband Bert in their home.
Mabel Wilcox and her puppy "Button," March 12, 1902
Lizzie in overalls, March 20, 1902
Lora's sister Lizzie Fait (Fait is her married last name) posing with a chair in overalls and a hat. Taken at Willow Glen.
Bertie asleep in cradle, January 11, 1903
The Oldman's first child Albert Horace was born Nov. 21, 1902. They called him "Bertie."
Bert and Bertie on the front step of their home, June 27, 1903
Bert Oldman with son Bertie.
Fair-View Cottage, or "Tucked Away," June 29, 1903
Exterior shot of Fair-View Cottage, later renamed "Tucked Away."
Horace and Sylvia Nichols in sitting room at Willow Glen, January 31, 1906
"Pap" and "Mama" (Lora's parents Horace and Sylvia Wilson Nichols) reading in their sitting room.
Carrie Hinman, February 3, 1906
Lora Webb Nichols papers, Collection No. 1005, Box 3, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming
Sylvia and Bertie Oldman, June 1, 1906
Lora and Bert Oldman's daughter and son on front step of the cottage Lora called "Tucked Away." Sylvia was born in 1904.
Uncle Billy and Aunt Dede [Wilson], July 18, 1906
Aunt Dede pretending to give Uncle Billy [Wilson] medicine, July 27, 1906
Lora's mother Sylvia Nichols, October 8, 1906
Sylvia Nichols ["Mama"] posing for a portrait with a blanket or cloth serving as the backdrop.
Encampment Mercantile Company with Babe Alfred on front porch, October 16, 1906
Encampment Mercantile Company was owned by L.S. and Babe Alfred.
Grand Encampment Herald newspaper building, October 16, 1906
The Herald was published from 1898 to 1913. Years later the building would go on to house Lora's photography business and the Encampment Echo newspaper.
Wenli-Boardman building - Carrie Hinman in window of telephone office, October 16, 1906
Yula Wood chin on hand, November 3, 1906
Flowered wallpaper serves as the backdrop.
Girls in the phone office at switchboard, November 22, 1906
Yula Wood is on the left, Carrie Hinman is on the right. Taken in Encampment, Wyoming.
Daisy [Maggie Nichols] on arm of settee, Cosy Cottage, November 22, 1906
Maggie Nichols dressed in a hat and coat ["wraps on"] sits on the corner of a settee.
Portrait of Daisy [Maggie Nichols] labeled "good," November 23, 1906
2 Pairs of Old Shoes, February 15, 1907
Lora captioned this photograph, "2 Pair Old Shoes (For Dad, Another Comic)." It's possible the photograph was a gift for Lora's father Horace Nichols, playing on the phrase of calling a person an "old shoe."
Baby Irwin [Fleming] nursing, February 24, 1907
Sylvia Nichols and Mrs. Schafe in a hammock, March 13, 1907
Photograph taken at Willow Glen of Lora's mother Sylvia and a friend.
High water on Peryam Lane, crib right, June 12, 1907
The North Platte River near Encampment on a high water day. "Crib right" refers to a "crib wall," which is a retaining wall using logs to support/hold up a road. The crib wall in this photo is visible on the right hand side of the photo, but it has been broken by the river water.
Length of pipeline, June 12, 1907
The pipeline was approximately 4 miles long and was 4 feet in diameter. It was responsible for bringing electricity to Encampment beginning in 1902.
Horace Nichols fishing on the North Platte River, June 31, 1907
Horace Nichols ["Pop"] casts a line into the North Platte River. Original caption by Lora Nichols: "Pop After Landing - Hand Out."
Daisy [Maggie Nichols] and Lora Nichols Oldman, July 15, 1907
Shown is Lora (seated) and her sister.
A stagecoach in Encampment, Wyoming, August 15, 1907
A stagecoach pulled by six horses parked next to a meat market. Stagecoaches were sometimes referred to as "the stage," and transported people on a "stage line" between towns before a railroad line was developed. To the right in the background is a building labeled "The Wyoming."
Interior of the post office - Jenny, Hank, Carl Ashley, August 15, 1907
Inside the post office showing the three service windows. From left to right: Jenny (in window), Hank, and Carl Ashley. Encampment, Wyoming.
Pipeline dam from above, August 16, 1907
Showing the bridge above and all inner workings surrounding dam on the Encampment River.
Pipeline dam from below, August 16, 1907
A closer view of the dam showing water underneath the bridge.
Lora Nichols Oldman eating at a hutch, August 16, 1907
Lora captioned this photograph: "I Eat My Meals on the Mantel Piece."
Street in Battle, Wyoming, August 27, 1907
The town of Battle was located at 10,000 feet making for heavy winters. It was located 14 miles from Lora's hometown of Encampment and was near the Rudefeha Mine. Copper ore from the mine was taken by wagon and later by tramway to the smelter in Riverside, which was about five miles from Encampment.
Stage and hotel in Battle, Wyoming, August 27, 1907
Bunk house at Standard Mine, August 27, 1907
Standard was another copper mine in the area.
Powerhouse and tunnel, Itmay Mine, August 27, 1907
Another copper mine in the area. Mining would have been done underground.
Mr. Bile and Bert Oldman looking at Itmay Mine ore, August 28, 1907
Lora's husband Bert Oldman was a copper miner.
Three copper miners in a mine cart, August 30, 1907
Lora titled this photograph "Lower Away." Miners would have been lowered underground in the cart.
The copper smelter at Riverside, September 11, 1907
Photos of mining and smelting properties were some of Lora's first paid work.
Tension tower on tram, September 11, 1907
The 16-mile-long aerial tramway, the longest in the world at the time, was considered an engineering marvel. It carried 840 buckets that held as much as 700 pounds of ore each from the mountains to the smelter.
Picnic at Brush Creek, July 4, 1908
Lora labeled this photograph "In the thick of it at the Brush Creek picnic."
Picnic at Brush Creek with the cook in the foreground, July 4, 1908
Sylvia with American flag, July 1908
Lora's daughter Sylvia holding an American flag.
Kinsella Hotel, Encampment, August 9, 1908
"Mrs. K" on the lower front porch.
Bohn Hotel and view of businesses in Encampment, August 9, 1908
Businesses L to R: The L.S. Alfred Hardware Store, Davis and Ashley Real Estate, Bohn Hotel, Shorty Anderson's, and part of John Cluff's saloon.
View down Winchell Avenue, Encampment, August 9, 1908
Lambert house (later Shorty Anderson's), Eberhart and Kyner houses.
View down Freeman Avenue, Encampment, August 9, 1908
United Stores Company (formerly Encampment Mercantile Co.,) on corner, then Economy Drug Co., and Plummer Café have visible signs down this street. Plummer Café was the original Bohn Hotel building before the New Bohn Hotel opened.
Horse carriages and trains at the depot in Encampment, August 13, 1908
Horse carriages known as "hacks" stand in the foreground with train cars labeled "Northern Pacific" and "Encampment RW Co." in the background at the train depot.
"Doings at the Double O," Encampment, August 13, 1908
Half mile horse race, Encampment, August 13, 1908
Lora indicated in her caption that the race was a "free for all."
Chamber of Commerce exhibits, Encampment, August 14, 1908
A view of the exhibits inside the Chamber of Commerce: minerals, vegetables, grains, and grasses, and taxidermy are on tables and cover the wall.
Bucking contest with Frank Wilcox riding, Encampment, August 14, 1908
"Putting Worms on Hook:" Maggie Nichols, Mrs. Gus Rieck, Mrs. Lon Chase, May 9, 1909
Fourth of July table at "Tucked Away," July 4, 1909
Sylvia Nichols ["Mom"] and Lizzie Fait ["Sis"] seen in the background.
Lora Nichols Oldman with developing tank, July 1909
Lora Nichols holding up a photographic negative, July 1909
Cart with hay, 1909
A horse drawn cart loaded with hay. Lora's caption: "Al and Mary Anderson/South Fork Ranch, now Harden's: 54 LH."
Branding cattle at Terwilligers, May 9, 1910
Names presumably from left to right: Frank Huston, P.A. Ralli, Charlie Terwilliger (with Len Huston behind him at the fence) and young Art Crow.
Tie hacks, June 1910
"Tie hacking" was the act of cutting timber to create railroad ties, and the men doing the job were called "tie hacks."
Typesetting equipment in the Grand Encampment Herald building, June 1, 1910
Typesetting equipment was used for printing.
Members of Lora's family eating lunch, June 19, 1910
Lizzie Fait ["Sis"], Ira [Wolfard], Horace Nichols ["Dad"], and Lora's children Bert and Sylvia.
Crowd at Saratoga Fair, September 20, 1910
Members of Saratoga Hot Springs Brass Band, September 22, 1910
Unknown man and Ed Gould at the fair in Saratoga. Note the dolls on each of the men's instruments.
Team horse race at Saratoga Fair, September 1910
"Team" in this case meant a team of horses.
The Ashley family in the Encampment post office, December 1910
From left to right: Beth, Hank, Jen, Mrs. Ashley.
Guy Nichols and Hank Beecher in mine tunnel at Two Toms Claim, January 22, 1911
Mary Anderson showing her long hair, February 10, 1911
Interior of Parkison's Store, Encampment, February 26, 1911
Bolts of cloth shown on shelves.
Louis Martin and Dave Nichols playing the banjo and guitar, March 1911
Alva Martin, Dave Nichols, Louis Martin, March 1911
Bert hanging on fence at Faits' [Spring Ranch], March 19, 1911
Lora's son Bert shown playing on a fence.
"At sale, Sowder's horse," Rankin Livery, Encampment, September 9, 1911
A bucket from the Ferris-Haggarty Tramway can be seen on the right in the distance. From 1902 to 1908 the tram carried copper ore from the Sierra Madre mountains to the smelter in Riverside located near Encampment.
Bridge Street, Saratoga, Wyoming, December 1911
Lora's photographs show the changes over time to towns such as Saratoga. Bridge Street (now Bridge Avenue) is still a main thoroughfare through Saratoga.
Lora's son Bert dressed a girl for a church play, December 24, 1911
Lora's daughter Sylvia looking at a book, December 27, 1911
"Bert's gang playing marbles," Encampment, March 30, 1912
Lora's son Bert and his friends playing with marbles.
"Blowing bubbles, young Zack, George Martin and me," 1912
Lora's friends blowing soap bubbles.
Frances Heaton, Mr. Pankey, Helene Wolfard, Vivian Ledbetter (operating switchboard) in Encampment's phone office, June 1912
Guy Nichols and Lora Nichols, Encampment, August 4, 1912
Lora's first cousin Guy was courting her at this time. They married in 1914.
Girls on Nida Deal's pack trip, August 1913
Nida Deal's pack trip includes Sis Heaton, Ruth Dunbar, Nina Platt.
Mr. Pankey and his baby, 1912
Lora took many photographs of mothers with their babies. Here is a photo of a father with his baby.
Cousins Maude and Ruth Platt playfully eating, 1912
Maude and Ruth playfully sharing a bite to eat.
Alkali Ike, 1912
Alkali Ike was a well-known character (and drinker) in Encampment. According to the book Dreamers & Schemers: Profiles from Carbon County, Wyoming's Past (1999) Alkali Ike said that alcohol moved him "close to the spirit realm."
"Daisy" (Maggie Nichols Martin), December 1913
Lora's cousin Maggie shown pregnant in a casual dress.
Bert, Ez, and Sylvia in snow at Willow Glen, 1916
Lora's son Bert and daughter Sylvia with her first born child, Ezra, with husband Guy Nichols. They are visiting Lora's parents at the family home, Willow Glen.
Armistice Day Parade in Encampment, 1918
Armistice Day was first commemorated November 11, 1918, to mark the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany for ending cessation of hostilities on the Western Front during World War I. Today in the United States it is celebrated as Veterans Day.
Guy after the flu, January 24, 1919
Lora's husband Guy shown recovering from the flu at the Fait's Spring Ranch.
Billie Walker in bed in tent house with active tuberculosis, September 27, 1924
Shown in tent house to isolate her since she is infectious.
Billie Walker, out of doors for the first time, Encampment, November 4, 1924
Grandma, Ez, Bert, Frank, Cliff, Guy, Sylvia, and Dick by Christmas tree, December 25, 1924
Lora's mother, children, and husband Guy. In addition to Lora's older children Bert and Sylvia, shown are Ezra (b. 1915), Clifford (b. 1917), Frank (b. 1919), and Dick (b. 1921).
Sylvia at the University of Wyoming, 1924
Lora's daughter Sylvia on the University of Wyoming campus.
Irene Little, December 18, 1924
Through the 1920s Lora continued to supplement the family income through her photography business.
Alma Holland, February 9, 1925
Over the years, Lora photographed families as more children were born and grew up in the Encampment area. Photos of the Holland family are an example.
Loading railroad ties to ship, Encampment, January 23, 1925
The tie industry near Encampment began with the construction of the Union Pacific Railroad 50 miles north. Tie camps were situated along the various tributaries of the Encampment River. In the winter, ties were shaped and stacked. After the spring thaw, the ties were floated down the river to the North Platte. On the North Platte the ties were floated northward to Fort Steele to be loaded on trains for shipment to a tie treatment plant in Laramie.
Sylvia in bathing suit, August 6, 1925
Lora's daughter shown in a bathing suit style fashionable in the 1920s.
"Elephants (Circus Day)," Rawlins, Wyoming, September 2, 1925
Rocky Mountain Studio, Encampment, October 17, 1925
Lora operated her Rocky Mountain Studio mostly during the decade from 1925 through 1935, taking photographs and printing them.
Dale Null's leg, January 14, 1926
One of three medical photos of Dale Null's leg sent to Shriner's Hospital in Denver, Colorado. Travel to Denver would have been a long journey, so the photograph would have assisted doctors in assessing the child's condition.
Lora Nichols in the doorway of the Encampment Echo, June 1, 1927
Lora was editor and publisher of the Encampment Echo newspaper from 1925 to 1930. It was housed in the same building as her photography studio.
"Grandma" at Willow Glen, June 12, 1927
Sylvia was a frequent photographic subject for Lora.
"Howdy" Stop service station, Saratoga, July 10, 1927
This service station would have assisted the new automobile traffic in town.
Albia on running board of automobile, July 31, 1927
A young woman shown lying down on an automobile running board during picnic trip to Battle Lake.
Miners Exchange at G. Baker Saloon, Dillon, Wyoming, 1904
In addition to her own photography, Lora collected "scenes,” as she referred to them, that were held by others. She paid for them and used them in her postcard business. The town of Dillon was located near the Rudefeha Mine by the Sierra Madre mountain range. The town was formed when alcohol was banned in the company town of Rudefeha. By 1907 both Dillon and Rudefeha were ghost towns.
Lora Nichols cooking at the A Bar A Ranch, March 20, 1928
Lora worked hard to supplement her family's income. That included cooking at the A Bar A dude ranch in Wyoming's Medicine Bow Mountains. She also did photography for the ranch.
"'Ma' and Sylvia at Walcott," June 16, 1929
Lora and her daughter Sylvia at Walcott, Wyoming. Note Lora carrying her camera.
"Skyliners with fish caught at Hog Park," July 1928
Lora also added to her income by photographing for the Skyline Ranch for Boys near Encampment.
Skyline Ranch wagon stuck in the mud, July 1928
Skyline Ranch Assistant Director Edward D. "Ted" Higby digs the wagon out of the mud.
Doorway of Lora Nichols' Rocky Mountain Studio, June 4, 1929
Skyline Ranch Assistant Director Ted Higby underneath sign he made for Lora's photographic studio.
Assistant inside Rocky Mountain Studio, June 1930
An assistant behind the counter at Lora's photography business.
Regna "Toby" Simms and Franklyn Cook, June 28, 1929
"The Publicans," July 9, 1929
According to Lora's caption, she led this group which had a paper badge shaped like a brief case and had the motto "For more influence in the home, more activity out of it." Lora is shown in pants in the middle of the group.
Patsy and Bonnie Kaufman at C and I, Encampment, August 5, 1932
Wilbur Scafe's pack trip, September 9, 1932
Two couples - the Scafes and the Meekers - in bed during their pack trip.
Mrs. Martin and Irene, Encampment, August 28, 1932
Irene is the daughter of Lora's cousin Maggie. Mrs. Martin is Irene's grandmother.
Civilian Conservation Corps men in Encampment, May 28, 1933
Lora captioned this photograph of Civilian Conservation Corps men: "Crap game (Day the first C.C.C. boys arrived)." Craps was a dice game in which wagers were placed on the roll of the dice.
"2 CCC boys," June 3, 1933
Lora took many photographs of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in Encampment. The CCC was a voluntary public works relief program that operated from 1933 to 1942 in the U.S. for unemployed, unmarried men ages 18–25, and eventually expanded to ages 17–28. The CCC was a major part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal that provided manual labor jobs related to the conservation and development of natural resources in rural lands owned by federal, state, and local governments.
James C. Rice (Co C 20 Inf.) and George A. Holland (Co K 1st Inf.), Encampment, June 10, 1933
CCC members posing by their government-issued vehicle. Lora's studio is in the background.
Two CCC men at a soda fountain pretending to be at a bar, Encampment, June 11, 1933
Group outside "APO" tent at CCC Bottle Creek Camp, June 12, 1933
This image is an example of a photograph from Lora's photofinishing business that was actually taken by someone else and acquired by Lora for possible use as a postcard. The photograph was taken by CCC member Evie Williams
Boxing match at CCC French Creek Camp #849, July 7, 1933
CCC employees Dow Lunn and Charles Shewey in the boxing ring.
J.B. Treat of Civilian Conservation Corps, Encampment, 1933
Treat is shown formally dressed and holding Lora's guitar for a photographic portrait taken at her Rocky Mountain Studio.
CCC men working on Snowy Range Road in the Medicine Bow Mountains, August 13, 1933
Photo of men of CCC 849 Camp taken by J. B. Treat.
2 CCC boys, C Winters [right] and McCarthy at soda fountain, Encampment, August 20, 1933
Pat Irving "up a tree," September 20, 1933
One of the CCC men at work. This is another photograph Lora acquired from a customer through her photofinishing business.
CCC men hand sawing a large log, September 1933
Photograph taken by Harold Buckles of the CCC.
CCC Camp Sandstone (Camp 857), September 1933
CCC employees stayed in camps such as this while on the job. Photo by J. B. Bodiford of the CCC.
Member of girls basketball team, Encampment High School, May 1935
Roberta Simms is shown.
Member of boys basketball team, Encampment High School, May 1935
Vaughn Roberts is shown.
Lora Nichols at picnic, Stockton, California, 1936
Lora shown after her move to Stockton, California.