In the 1880s, amateur photography became a popular American pastime. By that time, camera and photographic development technologies had advanced to the point where everyday people could capture images of their surroundings to share with others. Ernest Vickers was an avid local amateur photographer. Born around 1871, Vickers’ photographs span the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His subjects range from family and friends to dramatic outdoor scenes to whimsical vignettes, with compositions both carefree and carefully arranged. No matter what the subject, Vickers’ work conveys the sense of wonder and curiosity that Vickers himself must have felt for these captured moments.
Vickers married Lottie Spaulding and the couple had a son, Lindley, born February 11, 1900. Lindley became the subject of many of Ernest Vickers’ photographs in scenes of family life. Always a lover of the outdoors, Vickers’ photographs of family and friends often featured beautiful natural settings. Lindley adopted his father’s love of nature, and took over as MillCreekPark naturalist in 1947 upon Ernest Vickers’ retirement. One of Vickers’ friends was MillCreekPark founder Volney Rogers, who appears in some of Vickers’ photographs. Vickers also documented local events and the everyday activities of people in his community.
Apart from being a talented photographer, Ernest Vickers was also a botanist, and took keen interest in the woods of MillCreekPark. In 1929, Ernest Vickers was employed as the Park’s naturalist. As naturalist, Vickers led groups of people on nature hikes through the park beginning in the 1930s. Vickers also took advantage of his surroundings for photographic inspiration. He captured breathtaking images of well-known park landmarks along with more obscure scenes of nature, showcasing the serenity and awe-inspiring beauty of park landscapes.
Here is a slideshow of more images from the Vickers collection. Additional images are available in the MVHS Archives Library, which is open Tuesday-Saturday from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m.