As a youth Charles W. Dahlgreen left school to support his family. He spent years doing sign painting, decorating, etching swords, working in foundries, and prospecting in the Klondike. He also managed some art studies including three years in Dusseldorf, Germany in the 1880s and in 1906 at The Art Institute of Chicago. Dahlgreen painted in Arizona, painting the Grand Canyon in the early 1920s. Later he was in Yosemite. Nine of his etchings are in the Library of Congress. Three of those are from his Yosemite series.