Yellowstone, then and now Pioneer photographer William Henry Jackson took this photograph of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River during the 1871 United States Geological Survey of the Territories, lead by Ferdiand Hayden, in the region that would become Yellowstone National Park. (William Henry Jackson/National Archives And Records Administration via AP/Bradly J. Boner/Jackson Hole News & Guide via AP)
Yellowstone, then and now
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Boulders shift. Canyons erode. Old trees fall. New ones grow. And tourists crowd Yellowstone National Park. The length of their vacations is barely any time at all in the stream of history.
 
A century and a half is nothing in the eons of often violent geology that made Yellowstone. Even so, an exhausting project by a Jackson, Wyoming, photographer shows how an ecosystem protected for that long can change. It can occur in ways obvious and subtle.
 
Brad Boner visited dozens of sites in the park photographed by William Henry Jackson in 1871. That was the year before Congress made Yellowstone the world's first national park. Boner painstakingly replicated in color more than 100 of Jackson's black-and-white photographs.
 
This summer, 40 of Boner's images go on display. They will be next to Jackson's originals at the National Museum of Wildlife Art. It is in Jackson Hole, Wyo.  During the centennial year for the National Park Service, the exhibit testifies to the success of the world's first national park, Boner said.
 
"The whole point of creating Yellowstone was to give future generations an opportunity to experience these special places," he said. "When I look at these pictures, I take a great deal of comfort in knowing that my kids are going to be able to go to a lot of these places and see the same thing."
 
The images show what can change, too. Rock pinnacles at Tower Fall crumble and alter the flow of Tower Creek, the shoreline of Yellowstone Lake erodes dozens of feet in places and the edge of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, where Jackson once stood, collapses into the chasm.
 
Boner took several trips to Yellowstone over the summers of 2011-2014. He spent much time wandering with Jackson's photographs held up to the horizon.
 
"Things would just sort of click and fall into place. All of a sudden, you're looking at the landscape that is in the photograph that I was holding, that Jackson took," Boner said. "There were definitely times I got goosebumps."
 
Jackson traveled Yellowstone as part of a federally funded expedition. He went to explore and document the area. He carried his photography gear on mules. Taking a photo back then involved exposing images on an 8-by-10-inch glass plate. Then he developed the negative on the spot.
 
"Basically he had to set up his little darkroom every time he wanted to take a picture," Boner said.
 
Boner had modern digital camera gear. But a couple of his trips were plenty ambitious. With a friend, he paddled around the edge of Yellowstone Lake in a canoe. It was about 60 miles. Another trip took him, his wife and a friend more than 30 miles over the rugged and remote Mirror Plateau.
 
"We saw bears where we didn't think we would see bears. We got snowed on in July," Boner said.
 
Other times his targets, especially grand vistas and thermal features, were heavily traveled.
 
"I'd be standing shoulder to shoulder with a whole bunch of tourists because Jackson had this knack for a picking out the best spot," said Boner.
 
Boner is a staff photographer for the Jackson Hole News & Guide. He plans to publish the images in a book later this year.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why can't we compare photos of Yellowstone today and 1,000 years ago?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (57)
  • kayleeu-2-bar
    6/07/2016 - 08:44 p.m.

    We cannot compare photos of Yellowstone today and Yellowstone 1,00 years ago because we had not invented photography yet so there was not any way to take evidence of Yellowstone. 1,000 years ago all we had for photos were art pieces, so the only way to take down what the national park looked like was to draw it.

    My opinion on this article is that I have never been to Yellowstone and that I hope one day I will be able to go!

  • colek-1-bar
    6/07/2016 - 09:16 p.m.

    We can't compare photos of Yellowstone today and 1,000 years ago because geography changes slowly over time. Since Yellowstone is a natural, beautiful landmark to see,"tourists crowd Yellowstone National Park. The length of their vacations is barely any time at all in the stream of history." (paragraph 1). Even a whole year spent at Yellowstone is not enough to see a major geographical change. It takes many thousands of years to truly see any change at all in the land formations. That is why we can't compare photos of Yellowstone today and 1,000 years ago. I thought this article was interesting and found that Brad Boner can replicate photos taken 2,000 years ago almost perfectly surprising.

  • Eric0221-YYCA
    6/08/2016 - 01:02 a.m.

    The Yellowstone National Park then and now are much different but people aren't able to compare photos of Yellowstone today and 1,000 years ago but people can be a able to see the photograph 1,000 years ago and today. The photograph that was taken by William Henry Jackson in which people aren't able to know which photograph is different from Jackson's photo to today's photo. The photograph from 1871 is different from today's photograph of Yellowstone National Park which people still aren't able to compare the two photos that was taken in 1871 and today.
    Critical Thinking Question: Why can't we compare photos of Yellowstone today and 1,000 years ago?
    Answer: I know that we can't compare photos of Yellowstone today and 1,000 years ago because the the photo that had been taken 1,000 years ago looks alike when shown next to the background and people can't tell the difference between the two photographs that had been taken in Yellowstone.

  • simonak-3-bar
    6/08/2016 - 09:21 a.m.

    We cannot compare photos of Yellowstone today and 1,000 years ago because they didn't have photography back then. Photography hasn't developed since, somewhat, recently. 1,000 years ago, if they could not photograph Yellowstone, we do not expect for there to be photographs, since it was impossible. Therefore we cannot compare photos of Yellowstone and 1,000 years ago.
    My opinion on this article is that it is interesting.

  • virginiam-2-bar
    6/08/2016 - 05:40 p.m.

    We can not compare a photo from that long ago to a photo of it now because the park is constantly changing. Due to erosion, rocks my look different and that can compare how the whole park looks. Also, plants in the park will grow and die which also effects how that park looks.

    I found this artical intresting beach use I have visited Yellow Stone before and I just figured it had always look that way.

  • dianner-2-bar
    6/08/2016 - 07:39 p.m.

    We can't compare photos of Yellowstone today and 1,000 years ago because 1,000 years ago there were no cameras to take photos. I really like this article because even from recent images there are dramatic changes.A it said Boner had to "set up his little darkroom every time he wanted to take a picture,". My opinion about this article is that it is important because new things come and old things go and as the article said "Rock pinnacles at Tower Fall crumble and alter the flow of Tower Creek, the shoreline of Yellowstone Lake erodes dozens of feet in places and the edge of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, where Jackson once stood, collapses into the chasm." Things come and go and when it is about nature it is talking about life because things change and referring to it when your young and when you are older it is amazing.

  • ramon-wil
    6/08/2016 - 09:27 p.m.

    We cannot compere photos of Yellowstone today and 1,000 years ago because everything in earth, changes. The field erodes!

  • douglash-kut
    6/09/2016 - 07:54 a.m.

    We can not compare photos of Yellowstone today and 1,000 years ago because we did not have cameras then. 1,000 years ago Yellowstone looked very different because "Boulders shift. Canyons erode. Old trees fall. New ones grow. " this means that over time things grow older or new things appear. Also, "A century and a half is nothing in the eons of often violent geology that made Yellowstone." This means that to the earth, not much has changed at all. Humans react differently.

  • ethang-1-bar
    6/09/2016 - 11:53 a.m.

    We can't compare the photos now and then because the climate is constantly changing.As the article states up above,"Boulders shift. Canyons erode. Old tree's fall. New one's grow."This shows that the climate never will stay the same. I found this article very interesting because it shows that not only humans change constantly but also the planet we live on too.

  • rorys-1-bar
    6/09/2016 - 12:01 p.m.

    We can't compare photos of Yellowstone today and 1,000 years ago because there were no cameras to take pictures with. Another reason is that the environment always changes just how the article states "Boulders shift. Canyons erode. Old trees fall. New ones grow." Due to these changes many of what has happened 1,000 years ago is changed due to effect of natural disasters.

    Opinion: I thought this article was cool because I have always wanted to go to Yellowstone but I thought the question was weird because it was very basic.

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