An extraordinary group photo by William Henry Jackson of the Hayden U.S. Geologic Survey at Firehole Basin in Yellowstone in 1872. 1. W. Nicholson; 2. T.B. Brown; 3. (Blank); 4. (Blank); 5. S.C. Jones; 6. W.R. Taggart; 7. T.W. Jaycox; 8. Dr. Reagles; 9. J. Curtis; 10. F.H. Bradley; 11. F.V. Hayden; 12. J. Stevenson; 13. Wm. Blackmore; 14. W.H. Holmes; 15. A. Burck; 16. (Blank); 17. (Blank); 18. (Blank); 19. H. Gannett; 20. A.E. Brown; 21. J. Savage; 22. (Blank); 23. (Blank); 24. (Blank); 25. (Blank); 26. (Blank); 27. (Blank); 28. (Blank); 29. (Blank); 30. (Blank); 31. (Blank); 32. C. Carrington; 33. C.H. Merriam; 34. (Blank); 35. W.A. West; 36. C.R. Campbell; 37. (Blank); 38. J.M. Coulter; 39. S. Spencer; 40. P.S. Beveridge; 41. S.F. Hamp; 42. R. Adams; 43. (Blank); 44. (Blank); 45. G.R. Bechler; 46. R. Hering; 47. N.P. Langford; 48. (Blank); 49. (Blank); 50. (Blank); 51. W.B. Logan; 52. W.B. Platt; 53. A.C. Peale; 54. A.E. Bingham; 55. T.O.C. Sloan; 56. E.B. Wakerfield; 57. (Blank); 58. (Blank); 59. (Blank); 60. (Blank); 61. J.S. Negley Blanks are unidentified packers, cooks and others, although in 2019 Yellowstone Park researchers noted: “The men named below were on the [1872] survey, but are not listed in the caption, so it seems likely that they make up some of the unknown men. Jim Alexander, unknown role; Jack Bean, Packer; Boteler, Hunter; Tom Cooper, Chief Packer; Crissman, Photographer; Goodfellow, helper; Bill Hamilton, unknown role; George Mefford, Packer; S.H. Nealy, General Assistant; Joseph E. Smith, unknown role; Dr. Charles S. Turnbull, Surgeon; Ticknor, Packer; “Red” Williams, Cook. The remainder were likely the staff from the other survey, headed up by James Stevenson.” Courtesy USGS

The 150th anniversary of the first national park commemorates the beginning of America’s grand and wonderful national parks and monuments system.

On March 1, 1872, President Ulysses S. Grant signed into law Congressional legislation that created Yellowstone National Park, the first of its kind in the world. As reported in the Helena (Montana) Weekly Herald on March 28, 1872: “Yellowstone,…embracing an area of 575,000 square miles….covers the sources of the Yellowstone and Missouri rivers, together with all the natural wonders and transcendent scenery of that romantic and incomparable locality. It will heretofore be known to the world as Yellowstone National Park, and will be visited in the years to come by thousands of the scientific and the curious, seeking to become acquainted with this unparalleled section of America’s wonder-land.”


Hayden Survey artist Thomas Moran went to great lengths while exploring Yellowstone, as seen here examining the Upper Basins of Soda Springs in 1871, to gain perspective for his influential sketches, watercolors and paintings of the future national park. William Henry Jackson, Courtesy USGS


Just one year earlier, Secretary of State Columbus Delano tapped geologist and Civil War physician Ferdinand Vandeveer Hayden to lead a major geological survey of the headwaters of the Yellowstone River and the Yellowstone region of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho territories. Dr. Hayden, an Army veteran, had had a desire to survey the Yellowstone region since he’d first ventured into the region before the Civil War started.


William Henry Jackson’s large format and stereographic images of Yellowstone’s geologic features, including the Yellowstone River’s Grand Canyon, heavily influenced Congress and President U.S. Grant’s decision to create Yellowstone National Park 150 years ago.
William Henry Jackson, Courtesy USGS


Hayden built a 50-man survey team that included artists Thomas Moran and Henry W. Elliott and adventurous Civil War and landscape photographer William Henry Jackson. Little did Elliott, Jackson or Moran know that their resulting maps, sketches, art and photography of Yellowstone would influence Congress and President Ulysses S. Grant’s decision to create the national park.

In honor of the sesquicentennial of Yellowstone National Park and the beginning of the most influential national park and monument system in the world conservation movement, Yellowstone survey photographs—and Western survey photographs made at many future national parks, monuments and forests created after 1872—illustrate this issue’s Best of the West sections.

Extraordinary efforts by twenty-eight-year-old Hayden Survey photographer William Henry Jackson to photograph Yellowstone with his large-format camera—across hundreds of miles of unsurveyed terrain—helped influence Congress’s creation of the first national park.
William Henry Jackson, Courtesy USGS


Civil War physician and geologist Ferdinand Vandeveer Hayden led the American government’s first geological survey of the Yellowstone region of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho territories. Hayden, who posed with his horse “Patsy” in 1870, had had a desire to survey the Yellowstone region since he’d first ventured into the Yellowstone River Valley in 1860.
William Henry Jackson, Courtesy USGS

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