The Visual Wonders of Yellowstone National Park

While I am usually incapable of picking favorites, I must admit I do have a favorite national park – Yellowstone. I have visited more than twenty times and I never tire of the natural wonders contained in its over 2 million acres. It was the first national park established in the United States, on March 1, 1872 – so today I will belatedly mark its 150th birthday with a historic journey through the park via images in our collections.

William Henry Jackson was one of the most notable early photographers of Yellowstone, as part of the Hayden Geological Survey of 1871. Jackson took this photo entitled “Great Falls of the Yellowstone” while traveling with the survey. These falls are now known as the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River.

Great Falls of the Yellowstone. Photo by William Henry Jackson, 1871. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.68716

By comparison, contemporary photographer Carol M. Highsmith took this photo of the Lower Falls more than a century later in 2015:

The Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River in northwestern Wyoming’s Yellowstone National Park. Photo by Carol M. Highsmith, 2015 Sept. 14. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/highsm.35488

I enjoy studying the older photos we have of the park, predating most modern conveniences- and safety rules! Yellowstone is quite famous for its thermal features like geysers, hot springs, mud pots and steam vents, which can be quite dangerous- and sometimes easily damaged. As you can see, visitors to the park in the late 19th and early 20th century were either unaware or unconcerned:

[A group of tourists explore a geyser in the Upper Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park] Photo by Frances Benjamin Johnston, 1903. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3c36271

The Punch Bowl, Yellowstone National Park, Wyo. Photo copyrighted by Keystone View Company, 1918. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3b43415

Grand Geyser in action, 200 feet high, Upper Basin, Y.N.P. Photo copyrighted by Stereo-Travel Inc., 1912. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3b43416

Enjoy a tour of the sights of Yellowstone through various formats and time periods below:

Sapphire Pool, Yellowstone National Park. Photchrom by Detroit Photographic Co., 1902. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.18055

Riverside Geyser, Yellowstone Park. Photchrom by Detroit Photographic Co., 1905. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.18057

Yellowstone National Park, Ranger Naturalist Service. Poster by C. Don Powell, ca. 1938. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.13399

Yellowstone vista, with Price family members. Photo by Albert M. Price, ca. 1922. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppss.00898

Tower Creek series. Tower Fall, 156 ft. high from above. Photo by Joshua Crissman, 1876. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/stereo.1s01138

The Castle Geyser, Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park. Chromolithograph by L. Prang & Co., 1874. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pga.11937

 

The magnificent new Virginia Canyon Road and Virginia Falls, Yellowstone National Park. Photo copyrighted by T.W. Ingersoll, 1905. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3b43413

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