HAYNES, Frank Jay (1853-1921) - YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK. Fine Photograph of "Excelsior Geyser". .
Fine albumen print, mounted on archival matt (5 x8 inches; 11 x 14 inches), of the Excelsior Geyser, number 22 pencilled lower left-hand corner of the matt.
Provenance: from the library of William E. Hofman, his sale Christie's 3rd December, 2010, lot 343
A magnificent view of the crater of celebrated Excelsior Geyser in Yellowstone National Park, by official Yellowstone Park photographer Frank Jay Haynes. "Excelsior was once the largest geyser In the world. However, the last known major eruptions occurred during the 1880s, when there were numerous eruptions up to 300 feet. The violent eruptions of the 1880s may have caused damage to the siliceous sinter lining, allowing gas leakage and the loss of thermal energy. No observed eruptions were known until 1985 when it erupted for two days. However, it only obtained a height of 20-80 feet. Since its eruptive activity in the 1880s, Excelsior is now a productive thermal spring, presently discharging 4050 gallons per minute. Numerous vents boil and churn the water within the crater, covering it in a dense layer of steam." (Yellowstone National Park online).
Yellowstone, was the world's first national park, and "is situated mainly in Wyoming and extends into Montana and Idaho. It was established in 1872 by Congress, primarily because of its geysers, but also because of its remarkable assemblage of wildlife and unusual natural features. The "national park idea" pioneered at Yellowstone eventually spread worldwide. In the United States, Mackinac Island National Park (now a Michigan state park) was established in 1875 and Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks in 1890. (Yosemite had been a California state park since 1864.) Yellowstone remains the "mother park" in the U.S. national park system, which by the 1990s included 376 sites.
The celebrated photographer Haynes was first hired as the official photographer of the Northern Pacific Railroad and "given his own travelling studio in a converted rail car, Haynesproduced numerous famous images of the railroad's construction projects and of sites along its route. He held that position for nearly three decades. He also was appointed in 1884 as Yellowston's official photographer and sold materials from a store in the park itself. He retired in 1916. His images of Yellowstone are among his more important and dramatic imagery" (see Dorothy Sloan, Western Americana,10/18/2006, lot 254).
"Boasting about three-quarters of the world's geysers (of which Old Faithful is the most famous) and over half of the thermal features, it also has one of the globe's most spectacular canyons, one of North America's most celebrated waterfalls, and more than 225 permanent waterfalls higher than fifteen feet. It has the premier wildlife sanctuary (and the top three trout-fishing streams) in the continental United States. Unmatched in the variety and number of its megafauna, the park shelters the world's largest concentration of elk and is one of the last remaining strongholds of the grizzly bear in the coterminous states. It is the only site in the United States (and one of only two in the world) where a wild bison herd has survived continuously since ancient times. At the center of the largest relatively intact ecosystem in the North Temperate Zone, its hundreds of lakes, creeks, mountains, and valleys survive in essentially pristine condition. As in all major parks, Yellowstone's administrators debate the appropriate forms of intervention to protect this delicate ecosystem and strive to balance the competing claims of public access and wilderness preservation" (see Aubrey L. Haines, The Yellowstone Story, 1996; James Pritchard, Preserving Yellowstone's Natural Conditions: Science and the Perception of Nature, 1999). Catalogued by Kate Hunter