All my life the only name I heard in relation to old landscape work and Yosemite in particular was of course Ansel Adams. Watkins predated him by decades first doing work in Yosemite and then in the Columbia River gorge. While Watkins claims the title of the original artist, Adams due to the improved technologies, certainly claims more viewable photos. Thanks for posting this nice history lesson.
These early large format, wet plate landscape photographers were fascinating. There is a great description of the process here. When you tripped the shutter...you had to mean it!