Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

Hayden Expedition

Dr. Ferdinand V. Hayden, director of the U.S. Geological & Geographical Survey of the Territories, decided to explore the Yellowstone area at the urging of Nathaniel P. Langford and his cohorts. After receiving an appropriation of $40,000, Hayden set forth from Ogden, Utah, with a party of 34 men and seven wagons to explore the region in June of 1871.

The party included a young landscape painter, Thomas Moran, and an Omaha photographer, William Henry Jackson, both of whom became famous for their artistic renditions of national parks. Hayden's decision to include these two men in the party was a good one because Moran's paintings and Jackson's photographs revealed a region of stunning beauty. Their artwork, coupled with a 500-page report, created an impressive document that presented irrefutable evidence to the public and Congress that the thermal features and other natural wonders of the Yellowstone Plateau not only existed, but deserved to be protected. Hayden worked to persuade legislators to set aside the area as a national park. His efforts paid off when Yellowstone became the first national park in the United States on March 1, 1872.