The nostalgia of Haynes Guides to Yellowstone

“Frank Jay Haynes (October 28, 1853 – March 10, 1921), known as F. Jay or the Professor to almost all who knew him, was a professional photographer, publisher, and entrepreneur from Minnesota who played a major role in documenting through photographs the settlement and early history of the great Northwest. He became both the official photographer of the Northern Pacific Railway and of Yellowstone National Park as well as operating early transportation concessions in the park. His photographs were widely published in articles, journals, books and turned into stereographs, and postcards in the late 19th and early 20th century.” – Wikipedia

According to Yellowstone Forever, “In 1884, Haynes opened a photography store and studio at Mammoth Hot Springs. This would be the first of numerous such photo shops to be erected throughout the park. Haynes was, for all intents and purposes, the official photographer of Yellowstone National Park for years to come. His dedication to the park and to photography was carried on by his son, Jack Ellis Haynes. Millions of photographs, postcards, guidebooks, and souvenirs later, the Haynes family came to have a great impact in bringing Yellowstone to the world.”

His prolific output included a yearly Haynes Guide to Yellowstone that, with the later management of his son Jack, was published up until 1966. The heavily illustrated guides included maps, points of interest, and park rules and regulations. You can find a downloadable PDF of the 1916 guide here. These guides come up for sale at online booksellers and eBay from time to time. Many of Haynes’ early popular color photographs were hand-tinted. He also found success with his stereo camera and the resulting stereographs as well as a bulky camera that produced images on 20″ x 24″ glass plate negatives that showed a great deal of detail.

The preface of the 1916 edition shows that Haynes had an extensive vision of what the guides should accomplish: “The purpose of this book is to guide the tourist on his tour of Yellowstone National Park and to make his visit pleasant and interesting. To this end, it names, describes, and pictures all the points of interest in the park and presents in concise and readable form the scientific and historical information necessary to a clear understanding of the various phenomena.”

Haynes served as the official photographer for Yellowstone National Park as well as the Northern Pacific Railway. The railroad, which served the park, had a fair amount of interest in promoting Yellowstone just as the Great Northern Railway was instrumental in the development and promotion of Montana’s Glacier National Park.

Because of his enthusiasm and enormous photographic output, Haynes was well-positioned to provide the stuff of which the park guides were based. Jeff Malcolmson, in “A Photographic Journey to Wonderland” (Montana The Magazine of Western History, Summer 2022) writes that Haynes’ “First journey into Yellowstone would define the trajectory of his career as perhaps the most prominent early photographer of the park.”

In his cutline for the portrait of Haynes, Malcomson says, “Note that he is armed with a revolver and a knife, ready to do battle with any wildlife” Personally, I don’t think either would be very effective against a charging grizzly. I’d rather have bear spray (not pepper spray).

When I was in Yellowstone in 1965, I wish I’d been aware of the guides. I would have purchased a copy of the penultimate edition even if it would be some years before I discovered what a treasure I had.