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
Lexile

Boulders shift, canyons erode, old trees fall, new ones grow and tourists crowd Yellowstone National Park, the length of their vacations 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 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 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.

Filed Under:  
Assigned 13 times
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 (18)
  • alexandrias-2-bar
    6/06/2016 - 03:15 p.m.

    We can't compare photos of Yellowstone today and 1,000 years ago because we were not taking photos at that time. We as humans did not create photography until very recently in our timeline, making it impossible for us to have taken photos 1,000 years ago. I chose this article because I found it interesting and I have never been before.

  • angelinat-3-bar
    6/06/2016 - 07:55 p.m.

    We can't compare the photos of Yellowstone now and 1,000 years ago because we didn't have cameras that long ago. The article says, "Boner had modern digital camera gear." This shows that the photographer had modern gear, but people 1,000 years ago did not. I was not interested in this article because I have never been to Yellowstone and I don't have anything to compare the photographs too. I was not surprised by this article because I know that people 1,000 years ago did not have cameras.

  • mayaw-6-bar
    6/06/2016 - 09:26 p.m.

    We can't compare photos of Yellowstone today and 1,000 years ago because we were not taking photos a thousand years ago. Some of the first pictures taken of Yellowstone are by William Henry Jackson, this is proven in paragraph two, "Brad Boner visited dozens of sites in the park photographed by William Henry Jackson in 1871." Therefore, we can't compare photos of Yellowstone today and 1,000 years ago because no one was taking photos a thousand years ago. I enjoyed this article because I have been to Yellowstone, and I would have liked to see how much it has changed in a thousand years.

  • collinf-2-bar
    6/06/2016 - 10:30 p.m.

    We can't compare photos of Yellowstone today to 1,000 years ago because there was no photography 1,000 years ago. Photography was only invented recently.

    I chose this article because I have never been to Yellowstone, and I would like to go there and take pictures.

  • williamb-4-bar
    6/07/2016 - 05:11 p.m.

    we cant compare them because the land has changed so much from like hurricanes, rain and erosion.

  • carlosp-6-bar
    6/07/2016 - 11:53 p.m.

    We can not compare photos of Yellowstone today and 1,000 years ago because there wasn't cameras that far back in time and we couldn't look at what it would be like that long ago. The only thing that we could know back them is from archeology. This is all stated in paragraph three. "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 shows that there wasn't photography back then because the first photos of the park was in 1871 by Brad Boner and that wasn't 1,000 years ago.
    I think this article is cool because its amazing that even though this park has been there for so long it has hardly changed at all over these thousands of years.

  • kieranw-3-bar
    6/08/2016 - 09:02 p.m.

    We can't compare photo's of Yellowstone from today and from 1,000 years ago because a lot has changed. Trees have grown and trees have died, trails have formed, water levels have differed and the population has changed. These differences would all change the picture in a certain way. I find this article very interesting because it showed me Boner's great wanting to compare his pictures to Jackson's from hundreds of years ago and show them to the people of Yellowstone.

  • sebastianr-6-bar
    6/09/2016 - 01:24 a.m.

    We can't compare photos of Yellowstone today and 1,000 years ago because 1,000 years ago there wasn't any cameras so no one could take any photos of this amazing place. I think this is unfortunate because I'm sure a lot of people out there would like to see what Yellowstone looked liked so long ago. If we would have had photos from so long ago I think it would benefit because if we could see Yellowstone unharmed by humans and looking spotless then we would always have something great to strive for as far as cleanliness.

  • oscarb-1-bar
    6/09/2016 - 12:02 p.m.

    We can not compare photos of Yellowstone today and 1000 years ago because the park will take much longer than that to show signs of change. The article states, "A century and a half is nothing in the eons of often violent geology that made Yellowstone." This shows how that it takes a very long time for the park to move when there are no sighs at all with in 150 years. I thought the article was cool because it shows how slowly Earth is moving.

  • lucasl-3-bar
    6/09/2016 - 01:23 p.m.

    As people living 1000 years ago obviously had no cameras or any other technology, we cannot compare current photos with those nonexistent photos from that time period. As a result, we must look for other ways to find out what Yellowstone looked like then, such as studying ancient paintings or the rock layers and how they have changed. It is quite interesting how long Yellowstone has been constantly changing and shifting, and because of that, it is very important that we protect the ecosystem.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT