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Re-photographing William Henry Jackson's images from the 1871 Hayden Survey that helped create the world's first national park.
264 backers pledged $21,585 to help bring this project to life.

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Project Synopsis

Yellowstone National Park: Through The Lens Of Time is an extended visual essay presenting pioneer photographer William Henry Jackson's photographs from the 1871 Hayden Survey to the region that is today Yellowstone National Park paired with contemporary re-photographs of each view. Jackson Hole-based photojournalist Brad Boner, who wrote the text and took the contemporary photographs, is an admiring visionary dedicated to sharing more than 100 "then and now" views with history, extensive notes, personal tales, and a foreword by noted historian and conservation author Robert W. Righter.

As one of the nineteenth century's most celebrated landscape photographers, W.H. Jackson's work, in concert with others, influenced the Unites States Congress to set aside Yellowstone as the nation's first national park less than a year after the survey. This project pays homage to the park's early history and its present state, and offers a glimpse into the future.

Boner has partnered with the University Press of Colorado to produce a large-format, fine-art coffee table book to celebrate this project. While the UPC has committed a sizable sum and resources to the production costs, books of this size and quality are expensive to produce, and this Kickstarter project will contribute to the remaining anticipated costs to make this book a reality.

Several of these photographs will also be included in an exhibit in the summer of 2016 at the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson, Wyoming. This exhibit and two others — featuring the work of Ansel Adams, Georgia O'Keeffe and Thomas Moran — will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. Your support will go a long way toward making this book affordably available to visitors to Yellowstone, readers across Wyoming, and beyond.

A selection of the photographic comparisons are displayed on this page, many of which serve as rewards for supporting this Kickstarter campaign. Please watch the video above for an expanded selection of the images that will appear in the final book.

Rewards are only fulfilled if the campaign is successful. Contributors are not charged if the funding goal is not reached.

No. 214. GROUP OF LOWER BASINS (Mammoth Hot Springs)
No. 214. GROUP OF LOWER BASINS (Mammoth Hot Springs)
Several of Jackson's images at Mammoth Hot Springs, including this of Minerva Terrace, were re-photographed at a wider field of view in order to show almost a century and a half of growth and expansion.
Several of Jackson's images at Mammoth Hot Springs, including this of Minerva Terrace, were re-photographed at a wider field of view in order to show almost a century and a half of growth and expansion.
No. 252. GRAND CAÑON. West side, one mile below the falls, looking down.
No. 252. GRAND CAÑON. West side, one mile below the falls, looking down.
A pine tree bisects the scene from where Jackson made this photograph looking down the Grand Canyon from near the Grand View overlook on the west side of the canyon.
A pine tree bisects the scene from where Jackson made this photograph looking down the Grand Canyon from near the Grand View overlook on the west side of the canyon.

Background

In the summer of 1871, pioneer photographer William Henry Jackson traveled with a U.S. government survey lead by geologist Ferdinand V. Hayden to explore the region that is today Yellowstone National Park. Reports from two smaller, private expeditions to the region in years prior detailed the “wonders of the Yellowstone” with spouting geysers, towering waterfalls and a massive, pristine mountain lake. Their stories of these wonders, however, seemed exaggerated, and many dismissed them as romantic embellishments and fabrications. In 1871, Hayden, who had spent the previous two years leading government surveys to explore and map the American Frontier, was determined to confirm or discount the rumored “wonderland” surrounding the headwaters of the Yellowstone River in the northwestern Wyoming Territory. Their exploration did not disappoint, and Hayden was so enamored by Yellowstone that, upon his return to Washington, D.C., that fall, solicited the help of others and began lobbying members of Congress to set aside the region as a national park. Jackson’s photographs — among of the first ever taken in Yellowstone — served as tangible, indisputable proof of the region’s iconic landmarks. Less than a year after the survey’s exploration, on March 1, 1872, Congress withdrew the Yellowstone region from settlement, creating the world's first national park "for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.”

No. 266. YELLOWSTONE RIVER where it leaves the lake, looking north.
No. 266. YELLOWSTONE RIVER where it leaves the lake, looking north.
Fishing Bridge now spans the Yellowstone River just north of where it exits Yellowstone Lake, and trees and other vegetation line the steep west riverbank in the foreground.
Fishing Bridge now spans the Yellowstone River just north of where it exits Yellowstone Lake, and trees and other vegetation line the steep west riverbank in the foreground.
No. 233. TOWER FALLS, near view from near its base.
No. 233. TOWER FALLS, near view from near its base.
The stones and boulders in Tower Creek as it flows away from Tower Fall have been shifted by decades of spring runoffs. The columns of volcanic breccia, which give the cascade and creek their name, have crumbled over time.
The stones and boulders in Tower Creek as it flows away from Tower Fall have been shifted by decades of spring runoffs. The columns of volcanic breccia, which give the cascade and creek their name, have crumbled over time.

Goals

These photographic comparisons are evidence that the effort to preserve and sustain Yellowstone National Park for future generations has been a success. While roads and bridges traverse a few of the scenes Jackson photographed in 1871, most are virtually unchanged today, save for the slow and subtle work of nature. The great experiment of Yellowstone — which every year captivates millions of visitors from all corners of the globe — has transcended generations, and this project leaves readers with a message that the effort to preserve Yellowstone should be maintained for generations to come.

In re-photographing W.H. Jackson’s images from the 1871 Hayden Survey, this project connects Yellowstone’s past with its present. In doing so, we can catch a glimpse of its future. Yellowstone National Park stands as America’s first and greatest experiment in the preservation of an extraordinary landscape. The contemporary comparisons to Jackson's photographs show just how well that experiment has stood the test of time. 

These photographic comparisons are evidence that the effort to preserve and sustain Yellowstone National Park for future generations has been a success. While roads and bridges traverse a few of the scenes Jackson photographed in 1871, most are virtually unchanged today, save for the slow and subtle work of nature. The great experiment of Yellowstone — which every year captivates millions of visitors from all corners of the globe — has transcended generations, and this project leaves readers with a message that the effort to preserve Yellowstone should be maintained for generations to come.

No. 279. YELLOWSTONE LAKE. This southern view includes the Upper Yellowstone River and the bay in which it empties.
No. 279. YELLOWSTONE LAKE. This southern view includes the Upper Yellowstone River and the bay in which it empties.
This photograph, taken above the east shore of the lake's Southeast Arm, shows rock formations that have changed little after almost a century and a half, and a large tree still stands on the right side of the image.
This photograph, taken above the east shore of the lake's Southeast Arm, shows rock formations that have changed little after almost a century and a half, and a large tree still stands on the right side of the image.
No. 298. THE GROTTO IN ERUPTION, throwing an immense body of water, but not more than forty feet in height. The great amount of steam given off almost entirely conceals the jets of water.
No. 298. THE GROTTO IN ERUPTION, throwing an immense body of water, but not more than forty feet in height. The great amount of steam given off almost entirely conceals the jets of water.
The eruptions of Grotto Geyser can last anywhere from one to 24 hours and can splash water more than 40 feet high. The length of Grotto's eruption will often determine the duration of the nearby Rocket Geyser, seen here in eruption with the Grotto.
The eruptions of Grotto Geyser can last anywhere from one to 24 hours and can splash water more than 40 feet high. The length of Grotto's eruption will often determine the duration of the nearby Rocket Geyser, seen here in eruption with the Grotto.
No. 303. THE UNITED STATES GEOLOGICAL SURVEY, with pack-train, en route upon the trail between the Yellowstone and the East Fork, showing the manner in which all parties traverse these wilds.
No. 303. THE UNITED STATES GEOLOGICAL SURVEY, with pack-train, en route upon the trail between the Yellowstone and the East Fork, showing the manner in which all parties traverse these wilds.
Due to the higher water level at Mirror Lake today, the spot where the Hayden Survey lined up in a pack train along the west shore is now submerged, and fires have swept across the Mirror Plateau.
Due to the higher water level at Mirror Lake today, the spot where the Hayden Survey lined up in a pack train along the west shore is now submerged, and fires have swept across the Mirror Plateau.

Summary

The purpose of this project is to instill an appreciation for the preservation and stewardship of special places like Yellowstone, and garner a deeper understanding of, and support for, the general mission of the National Park Service, being that these special places should be preserved in perpetuity for everyone to enjoy. My wife and I had our first child — a little girl — in December 2013, and our son only recently in February 2016. I am comforted to know that my kids, my grandkids, and beyond will have the opportunity to see a Yellowstone that is more-or-less unchanged from when I first experienced it as a child, and from when Jackson first photographed it almost a century and a half earlier. This is the lesson these contemporary comparisons to Jackson's 1871 photographs can teach us: Because of the vision of a few people in the winter of 1871-72, the feelings evoked by the wonders of the Yellowstone have transcended generations. In that regard, we've been given a gift, but it is also a reminder that Yellowstone doesn't really belong to us. It always belongs to future generations, and we are merely stewards of the world's first national park. Yellowstone, with all its rivers, canyons, geysers, mountains, and lakes, has been here for millions of years before we came along. It will remain for millions more when we are gone. But while we are here, it is ours to care for. 

—Bradly J. Boner

Risks and challenges

The photographic work and the manuscript are already complete. A key partner for this book project is the University Press of Colorado, a 501(c)3 nonprofit whose members include eight institutions of higher education in the state of Colorado, as well as Utah State University. Over the years, the University Press of Colorado has published a number of titles on the history and natural history of Wyoming.

The most significant cost for this project and the one that we most need support with is the production cost. While the UPC has committed substantial funds and resources for production, marketing and distribution, full-color, fine art publications are expensive to produce. Thus, funds raised through this campaign will directly contribute to the book's production costs. Your support will go a long way toward making this book affordably available to visitors to Yellowstone, readers across Wyoming, and beyond.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    4x6 photo pair of W.H. Jackson's No. 233 with contemporary comparison (images of Tower Fall on this page).

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    5x7 photo pair of W.H. Jackson's No. 214 with contemporary comparison (images of Mammoth Hot Springs on this page).

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    Signed, hard-cover copy of the book.

    All backers at this level and above will be listed in the credits in the book.

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    Signed, hard-cover copy of the book and prints from $10 and $25 reward levels.

    Name listed in the credits in the book.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Two signed, hard-cover copies of the book and prints from $10 and $25 reward levels.

    Name listed in the credits in the book.

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    Three signed, hard-cover copies of the book.

    Name listed in the credits in the book.

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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    Three signed, hard-cover copies of the book and prints from $10 and $25 reward levels, plus an 8x10 photo pair of W.H. Jackson's No. 252 with contemporary comparison (images of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone on this page).

    Name listed in the credits in the book.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    Three signed, hard-cover copies of the book and prints from $10, $25 and $250 reward levels, plus a LIMITED EDITION* (1/500) 8x10 photo pair of W.H. Jackson's No. 298 (Grotto Geyser in Eruption) with contemporary comparison.

    Name listed in the credits in the book.

    Because Grotto Geyser erupts only about every eight hours, it can be difficult to photograph in action.

    *Limited Edition is for contemporary photograph ONLY, but BOTH Jackson's photograph and the contemporary comparison are included.

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    Four signed, hard-cover copies of the book and prints from $10 and $25 reward levels, plus a LIMITED EDITION* (1/100) 8x10 photo pair of W.H. Jackson's No. 303 (Pack train at Mirror Lake) with contemporary comparison.

    Name listed in the credits in the book.

    Due to its extremely remote location on the Mirror Plateau — about 3½ miles from an established trail and more than 9 miles from the nearest trailhead in Lamar Valley — very few photographs of Mirror Lake exist.

    *Limited Edition is for contemporary photograph ONLY, but BOTH Jackson's photograph and the contemporary comparison are included.

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Funding period

- (37 days)