The Apex of 19th-Century Mapping of Jackson Hole.
Fantastic large-format map of northwestern Wyoming, centered on Jackson Hole and showing the Teton Range, Jackson's Lake, and the rest of this marvelous alpine country. The map extends as far as Gray's Lake in the southwest and the Wind River Range in the southeast.
The detail on the map is remarkable. Contour lines are shown, important peaks are named and given altitude readings. The map follows the Snake River through Jackson Hole and so includes detailed treatments of Jackson's Lake, Leigh's Lake, Jenny's Lake, Taggart's Lake, and many other bodies of water. Upper Gros Ventre Butte is denoted, which now keeps the town of Jackson in its shadow. Fighting Bear Creek (today's Fish Creek?) is labeled as are the creeks to the east of the Snake River.
This map was published as part of a work that represents the sum-total of knowledge produced during the Hayden Survey's many years in the west as part of the government-sponsored Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territories. It appeared in 1878 as one of ten maps in the Survey's addendum to the Twelfth Annual Report of United States Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territories, the final report he produced.
Hayden, who for many years had access to an enormous amount of resources, decided to focus several of his field seasons in the area around northwestern Wyoming. It would be here that, in the years 1871 to 1872, Hayden spent his time in an area in which westward expansion had passed by. The USGS, in 1973, reflecting on the Hayden survey noted that "[the] Yellowstone area was almost the last unexplored area within the conterminous United States." Hayden's survey represents the first organized exploration of this part of the country, which had until then been only sporadically frequented by trappers and hunters, and it is to this survey that we can credit the founding of Yellowstone National Park.
This map appeared alongside a colored geological map of the same area.
Jackson Hole in 1878
Prior to the Hayden Survey, Jackson Hole was solely the realm of trappers and hunters. This valley, nestled between the Grand Tetons and the Gros Ventre Range, is believed to have been inhabited a number of Native American tribes since the last glacial period. The first Anglo-American to visit the area was likely John Colter in 1808, a hunter who had previously served as a guide to Lewis and Clark, although this is disputed.
The region was occasionally frequented during the next several decades during the boom of the beaver-trapping economy, but the end of the fur trade in the 1840s limited the settlement of this area. Little records exist of visits to the valley between 1840 and 1860, when the Raynolds Expedition, a precursor to the four great surveys, in which a young Ferdinand Hayden served, visited the valley during its exploration of the Yellowstone.
The Hayden Survey completed the first detailed mapping of the valley, which was published in full in their 1878 report. Shortly after, in 1884, the first settlers to the valley would arrive and the cattle-industry period would commence.
The Hayden Survey -- The Greatest of the Four Great Surveys
The late 1860s and early 1870s saw four great surveys of the American West: the King Survey, which mapped the region around the 40th parallel; the Wheeler Survey, which attempted (unsuccessfully) to map the whole of the territories and western states at a moderate scale; the Powell Survey, which focused on the southwest and the Grand Canyon region; and finally the Hayden survey, which surveyed the territory of Colorado as well as the last great unmapped region of the Lower Forty-Eight: the Yellowstone Basin.
The Hayden Survey's most prolific years were 1871-72, which were dedicated to northwestern Wyoming. Up until then, the Yellowstone had been briefly explored by two previous surveys, including the Folsom-Cook and the Washburn-Langford-Doane expeditions of 1869 and 1870 respectively. However, these surveys lacked the resources of the Hayden Surveys: full government support, tens of thousands of dollars, and over sixty men. The Hayden Survey relentlessly worked on the territory, and its reports--most notably in the photos published which were taken by William H. Jackson--were the reason why the senate approved Yellowstone as the nation's first national park in 1871.
The area shown in the presented map was surveyed primarily in the summer of 1872. In that year, the expedition split up between a group dedicated to the Yellowstone, led by Hayden, and one dedicated to the Snake River area, led by James Stevenson. The latter group primarily spent the majority of the summer focused on the Tetons and Jackson's Hole. During this part of the survey, William Jackson took the first photos of the Tetons, and James Stevenson and his colleague N. P. Langford became the first Anglo-Americans to climb Grand Teton.
The Hayden Survey would return to the Jackson Hole area in 1877 and 1878, however, the bulk of the mapping had been conducted in 1872. 1878 was the final field year for all the four great surveys, after which the federal government, wary of the often conflicting politics of the parties, founded the USGS to consolidate the surveying exercise. These Great Surveys represented the last triumph of the age of discovery in the American West.