Romanzo Erastus Wood, or R. E. Wood, was born in Springfield, Massachusetts August 10, 1838. In 1859 he came west on the Oregon-California trail arriving in Napa County, California. Wood married Mary Elizabeth Olmstead Wade on October 17, 1864. The couple was joined by Mary's young daughter, Cleo Emma. The Woods moved to Santa Cruz County in 1868 and settled at Troutdale Farm near Bear Creek just above the San Lorenzo River. R. E. Wood supported himself in a variety of ways: as an inventor, farmer, manufacturer, and newspaper reporter. Together with Mary, he traveled around California putting on optical lantern or steroscopticon exhibitions, and offered their services as landscape and portrait photographers. In 1881 they moved to Tahoe City and they continued their photography activities. They divorced in 1891. Wood married again to Phoebe S. Brown in 1892. He died April 1, 1925 in St. Helena, California.
The R. E. Wood Photograph Collection (MSS 174) was donated to Meriam Library, Special Collections in 1991 by Thomas L. Rodgers - Mary Elizabeth Olmstead Wade Wood's great-great grandson. The collection consists of over 400 collodion wet-plate glass negatives and albumen POP photographic prints - many of these images are stereographs - taken during the 1870s and 1880s. The prints were mounted in a "scrapbook" ledger book along with newspaper clippings, advertisements, and articles about and by R. E. Wood. These images contain views of early Santa Cruz, Siskiyou, Placer, Napa, Sonoma, Glenn, Shasta, Lake, and Monterey counties, Lake Tahoe and vicinity, the cities of Bodie, Copper City, Santa Cruz, Capitola, Monterey, Pacific Grove, San Francisco, Sisson, Tahoe City, and Carmel Mission among others.