MacDonald Construction Co., the Arch’s prime contractor, tapped Arteaga Photos Ltd. to chronicle project progress through a camera lens. Robert Arteaga spent so much time onsite recording construction for posterity, going above and beyond what photos were required, that he was named Honorary Project Manager by MacDonald Construction.
“They said, ‘We don’t need any more than (the required photos),’” says Robert’s son Eldon, who joined Dad in capturing the Arch on film. “My dad replied, ‘Oh yeah? This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing.’ So he took pictures on his own for the benefit of future generations.”
The Arteagas’ top photo prints fill seven binders, with a archive of over 12,000 photo negatives, that details the Arch’s construction, and the family has made its extensive collection available to the National Park Service.
“It makes you feel like you did something right in your life,” says Eldon, describing how people often ask for his recollections of the project.
Eldon was on top of the Arch the day the final section was hoisted into place, and remembers the people and the bands, and all of the attention and notoriety the Arch has gotten since that historic moment– locally, nationally and worldwide.
“Someone once said that the Arch was like a great big magnet turned over and slammed into the ground, with everything drawing toward it,” Eldon explains. “And he was right… he really was.”