Exhibit features earliest photographs of Yellowstone National Park and Tetons

A free event Tuesday with historian and author Bob Blair at the Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum will discuss the work of “pioneer photographer” William Henry Jackson.
"Photographing in High Places"
Photographing in High Places, William Henry Jackson, 1872 | “Wiliam Henry Jackson's photographs were the first taken in the Tetons. Jackson captured images of the Tetons using wet-plate photography. As this technique requires near immediate development, Jackson (seated) and his assistant Charles Campbell had to process the fresh plates on treacherous terrain with a portable darkroom.” (Scotts Bluff National Monument, SCBL 841)


Prints of some of the earliest known photographs of the Tetons and the area that would become Yellowstone National Park are currently on display at the Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum (JHHSM).

On Tuesday, July 19, residents and visitors also have the opportunity to learn more about the so-called “pioneer photographer” who captured them in the early 1870s: William Henry Jackson.

“Jackson was the official photographer on the Hayden expedition, which was one of the first surveys to come through this area,” said Morgan Jaouen, executive director of the historical society and museum. “He was accompanied by [painter] Thomas Moran as well as another painter, and it was really on them to help visualize and then share what this place looked like and felt to the rest of the country.”


The images Jackson brought back helped support the congressional action of March 1, 1872, that designated Yellowstone as the country’s first national park. The exhibit of reprints of Jackson’s photos from the Hayden Geological Surveys of 1871 and 1872 is part of the 150th anniversary of Yellowstone National Park being celebrated this year.

Historian and author Bob Blair, who edited a 2005 edition of Jackson’s memoir and researched and wrote the Jackson exhibit, will join fellow historian and JHHSM board member Sherry L. Smith in conversation about Jackson’s life and work at the museum Tuesday starting at 6 p.m. Admission to the museum is free for the event.

Jaouen said the conversation will give Blair an opportunity to share more details about the stories behind Jackson’s iconic images. She also encouraged local residents to explore other activities celebrating the Yellowstone anniversary, which she described as “one of the most defining pieces of our regional history.”

The exhibit “William Henry Jackson: Pioneer Photographer Works from the Tetons & Yellowstone” will be on display through March 2023.

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About Kyle Mackie

Kyle is a multimedia journalist who joined KHOL as news director in January 2021. Prior to moving West, she reported on education, immigration, racial justice and more for WBFO, the NPR affiliate in Buffalo, NY. With a background in international reporting, Kyle has also worked in Israel and the Palestinian territories and the Western Balkans. She holds a bachelor’s degree in international affairs and geography from The George Washington University and master’s degree in journalism from the City University of New York. When not out reporting, Kyle can usually be found trail running, climbing, skiing or grooving to live music.

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