William Henry Jackson’s history-making photos

See these rare color photographs of the early West.

  • From left: Index Peak in Yellowstone National Park and Dogwood blossoms.

    William Henry Jackson
  • From left: Yamapi, a runner for Chief Ouray, and the Grand Canyon from Hance Trail.

    William Henry Jackson
  • Mesa Encantada, New Mexico

    William Henry Jackson


On U.S. Geological Survey expeditions through the American West in the 1870s, William Henry Jackson took the first photographs of the Yellowstone region’s thermal springs, craters and geysers. Those images helped persuade Congress to protect Yellowstone as a national park — America’s first — in 1872. Jackson also took early pictures of Yosemite in California and Wyoming’s Devils Tower, and was the first to photograph the ancient cliff dwellings at Colorado’s Mesa Verde, decades before it became a national park. Long before color film was available, he used the photochromic process to colorize black-and-white photos, which he sold as postcards. To celebrate the National Park Service’s 100th birthday this month and Jackson’s role in its history, his rare photographs will be displayed at the FAD Gallery in Mancos, Colorado, until the end of September. The exhibit showcases 10 original black-and-white postcards of Mesa Verde and over a dozen vivid color photos of other Western landmarks.

William Henry Jackson Photos, Exhibit of rare, original photochromes and cabinet cards at FAD (Furniture, Art & Design) Gallery, 107 Grand Ave., Mancos, CO