On January 5th 1887, photographer Frank J. Haynes struck out from Mammoth,Wyoming on an expedition through Yellowstone National Park. The 22 images he produced along the way were some of the first photographs ever taken of the park in mid-winter.
The expedition was not without incident. Members of the exploring party nearly lost their lives in the course of covering some 200 miles of rugged terrain on skis.The group was first led by famous Arctic explorer Lt. Frederick Schwatka, who spent nearly a year trekking across 2,000 miles of the Arctic in 1880. But just four days into the Yellowstone expedition, south of Norris, Schwatka mysteriously collpased on the trail. He abandoned the expedition to recover. Haynes, however, decided to carry on with three others.
Throughout the trip Haynes captured famous monuments of Yellowstone shrouded in snow and ice. The expedition initially took them from Mammoth to Norris. After a detour south to photograph Old Faithful, they resumed their circuit northeast toward the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, and eventually back to Mammoth. The group stayed mostly in hotels and other remote outposts along their route.
On January 23rd, leaving Canyon, they decided to head to Yancey's, an isolated hotel run by "Uncle" John Yancey. What they had expected to be a day's ski became a life-threatening situation when a blizzard hit. Having left most of their gear behind in an act of overconfidence, the expedition members spent two sleepless nights wandering blindly in the snow seeking some semblance of shelter. The weather finally cleared on the second morning and they reached Yancey's, where the men recovered for a day before returning to Mammoth, concluding their expedition on January 27th.
As the official photographer for not only Yellowstone National Park, but also the Northern Pacific Railroad, Haynes was at the forefront of documenting westward expansion. When he started shooting for the railroad, the tracks only went as far as Bismark, North Dakota, and his mobile photography studio was a converted Pullman train car. The four photographs displayed here were very likely taken either during this expedition, or a similar subsequent expedition seven years later.
All images are from the Yellowstone Gateway Museum of Park County and were scanned, restored, printed and framed by Park Photo. Prints are available for purchase. Proceeds from sales support the ongoing preservation of history at the Yellowstone Gateway Museum of Park County.
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