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The Grand Canon, Yellowstone...

[Detail] The Grand Canon, Yellowstone...

Early Images of the United States

Choose from the links below to view images recorded by early explorers of the American West. What stories do these pictures tell?

Prints, lithographs and engravings

In the 1850s, prints, lithographs and engravings of American scenery, especially in the West, received wide popular distribution between this decade and the turn of the century, stimulating broad interest in and appreciation for the special qualities of the American landscape, including its wilderness.

Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territories (U.S.)--1870-1880.

Ferdinand Vandeveer Hayden began his first Federally-sponsored Survey of the West in 1870. By the time it ended in 1878, the survey under his leadership had conducted landmark explorations throughout the region and contributed vitally to the scientific, photographic, and artistic representation of the Western landscape.

Henry Jackson was official photographer and Thomas Moran was accompanying artist. Widely-distributed lithographs of Moran's paintings from this expedition helped publicize Yellowstone in the East, while Jackson's 1870-1878 work with the Survey quickly became the most influential photographic representation of the Western landscape and its natural wonders.

William Henry Jackson

Jackson went on from the Geological Survey work to produce additional photographs of the West throughout his life. These were exhibited at major venues, and played a major role in shaping Americans' views of the West.

New Photographic Techniques

As new techniques became available, photographers of the West used them to produce ever-grander images. Panoramic photographs produced particularly striking images of Western landscapes.