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A Dramatic Topographical Image of Yellowstone National Park

Rare topographical map of the Yellowstone National Park, drawn by John H. Renshawe of the United States Geological Survey.

Renshawe, a long time employee of the United States Geographical Survey and accomplished landscape artist, provides a dramatic depiction of the park's topography.  The map is part of an iconic series of 6 :panoramic views" of the western National Parks produced by Renshawe in 1914-1915, which include:

  • Panoramic View of the Yosemite National Park, California
  • Panoramic View of the Glacier National Park, Montana
  • Panoramic View of Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado
  • Panoramic View of the Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
  • Panoramic View of the Crater Lake (Oregon)
  • Panoramic View of the Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming-Montana-Idaho

As noted in Mapping of America,  to illustrate the topographical contours of the parks, Renshawe selected an innovative method of graduated shaded relief which was unusual for maps produced by the US Geological Survey.  The technique added light and life to the dramatic topography of the parks, highlighting the drama of their landscapes.  As noted by in Stanford's  on line exhibition:  Views: Portraying Place and Space

One immediately gets a sense of the three dimensional nature of the landscape allowing the viewer to see the topography, drainage patterns, vegetation, snow cover, and the beauty inherent in these parks. Renshawe’s technique would later be used by the Survey for the state map series as well.

Renshawe's maps are among the most dramatic and impactful illustrations of the National Parks at a time when most were still quite remote and only accessible via the transatlantic railroad connections from the east and midwest.  These images unquestionably helped to popularize the western National Parks (and benefit rail tourism in the early 20th Century), setting the stage for an even greater boom in National Park tourism in the coming decades as the automobile began to supplement the train as the primary means of tourist travel.

Condition Description
Flattend and archivally mounted on modern poster linen. Upper right corner with a small piece of blank paper reinstated, well outside the printed image and a triangular area of paper added below the word Idaho along the bottom right margin.
Views: Portraying Place and Space: 2nd Exhibit from the David Rumsey Map Center, January 22 - August 31, 2017: