I’m not sure when the seeds of this project were planted. It may have been when I first learned nearly four decades ago of the Hayden Divide, between the South Platte and Arkansas River drainages in the mountains west of Colorado Springs. The small town of Divide now sits on this topographic fence. It may have been when I first realized the importance of Ferdinand Vandeveer Hayden in establishing Yellowstone National Park in 1872. It might have been when I first drove through Hayden—a coal-mining and electrical-power-generating community in northwestern Colorado. Or maybe it was when I first saw on a map Hayden Mountain (13,206 ft.), or one of the three Hayden Creeks in the state, or contemplated crossing Hayden Pass, or wondered why there are three different Hayden Peaks (13,561, 12,135, and 12,987 feet) here. 1 Whatever the seed and whenever it was planted, I am grateful because it has prodded me to look at Hayden’s work and his impact on Colorado—my state of choice, where I live and work.

This publication is neither meant to be a comprehensive history of Ferdinand Vandeveer Hayden nor his survey. There are already several excellent books written by real historians on his life and times, especially Mike Foster’s Strange Genius: The Life of Ferdinand Vandeveer Hayden, William Goetzmann’s Army Exploration in the American West, 1803–1863, and James Cassidy’s Ferdinand V. Hayden: Entrepreneur of Science (Foster 1994 ; Goetzmann 1965 ; Cassidy 2000).

I am a geographer, a physical geographer specifically, not a historian. This publication is about place and how we look at it and how we are affected by it. I use the Hayden Survey as a departure point in describing Colorado past and Colorado present. In places I go far beyond the specific survey details and flesh out the landscapes in a more robust way. As a geographer I have studied place in its many guises, in particular I have studied the place we call Colorado. Hayden did his work over much of the West including Nebraska, Wyoming, and parts of Utah, New Mexico, South Dakota, Kansas, and Montana. He did preliminary work in Colorado during several early years, but this project is going to concentrate on his survey’s most prolific work done in Colorado, during 1869 and during 1873 through 1876. The results of this work are thousands of pages of meticulous (and some not very meticulous) research in geography, geology, natural history, paleontology, and topographic mapping. Most of this work was published in Hayden’s Annual Reports (the one consolidating the years 1867–1869 and the four for the years 1873–1876) and in hundreds of miscellaneous papers, journal articles, and bulletins. From my perspective as a geographer the tour de force of his efforts in Colorado is the Geological and Geographical Atlas of Colorado and Portions of Adjacent Territory published in 1877, just in time for the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Although the entire Atlas was not completed in time for the exposition, several of the more impressive map sheets were available (Hayden Survey 1877).

To do justice to this copious body of discovery, description, and knowledge in a single publication is an impossible task. But as I was doing my preliminary research and became engulfed in the mass of work by Hayden and his team of scientists, one aspect of their work kept capturing my attention. Throughout the Annual Reports and especially in the Colorado Atlas are innumerable pen-and-ink sketches of Colorado’s multitude of landscapes. Some are simple line drawings illustrating some point in the text. Others are intricate, often scientific, studies of peculiar or spectacular or beautiful landscape elements. Still others are grand, sweeping panoramas of places that could define the state we call Colorado. I decided that these drawings would be the foundation of this text. This website will show selected examples of these three landscape sketch types from throughout the area surveyed by Hayden in Colorado. The drawings were chosen using several criteria, which follow.

First, I wanted as wide a geographic coverage of Colorado as possible. Hayden divided the people conducting the survey into groups or divisions that were each sent to a specific part of the state each summer. Most of the best drawings were concentrated in the areas of the state covered by the Hayden “division” that included William Henry Holmes. Holmes did not go to all regions of the state. There are some excellent drawings from these other divisions, and they are included, but they are fewer in number than those from the Holmes’s division.

Second, I selected those drawings that I deemed most representative and, in my mind, most artistically elegant. This was, by necessity, a very subjective criterion, and I take full responsibility for the selection.

Third, I needed to be able to pinpoint and access the exact location from where the drawings were done, since I planned to photograph the identical scene in each case.

Fourth, I attempted to select the places for which Hayden gave the most information and, at the same time, that would allow me to provide as broad a geographic distribution of drawings across the state as possible.

Finally, there are drawings I have chosen that have little corresponding discussion in the survey but that I included due to their exceptional quality. Hayden’s coverage of Colorado was not uniform, and parts of the state have great detail and significant information included in his publications, while other areas merely have cursory coverage. In the end I selected twenty-eight photographs covering nineteen places throughout the state.

For each drawing selected, I included repeat photography. In some of these past/present pairings, you will see little change. In some there will be most profound changes as modern human culture and land use overwhelm the landscapes of the past. Through the accompanying text, I explore what Hayden’s men (not surprisingly for that time, they were all men) saw and recorded and how those landscapes have changed or not.

At this point let me interject some technical explanation for the repeat photography. If one is to repeat an older photo taken of a landscape, it is not too difficult to find the exact spot from which it was taken and use exactly the same lenses and camera settings to get a perfect match. The principles of optics define what can and cannot be photographed from a single viewpoint. This has been done routinely many times. In this publication, however, I am attempting to do “repeat” photography of a landscape drawing—a very different creature from a photo. Landscape drawings can be done over time (most are) and space. The artist can stop drawing at some point, move to a better vantage point, and then continue with the same landscape view, adding detail or perspective not available at the original viewing site. One cannot do that with a photo.

Some of the repeat photos on this site, therefore, are not from an “exact” repeat location, because there was no one exact location. The photo taken was the best compromise from the closest viewing point possible. This was a value judgment on my part. I used a digital camera (the Olympus E-410®) for the repeat photos. The capabilities of this camera allowed me to be as true as possible to the original drawings. But often it took me several digital shots for a single photo, which was then “stitched” together electronically to duplicate the landscape as drawn. This was especially true for the panorama landscapes. Lastly, quite often the artist took “artistic” license with the scene on the ground. Certain landscape elements may have been exaggerated or eliminated for dramatic effect. Repeating something that is not there is difficult! Some of Hayden’s crew were more apt to change things for these dramatic effects than others. Thomas Moran, for example, seemingly never met a landscape he thought he could not make better.

The introduction will give a shortened history about the Hayden Survey in the context of the other three major concurrent geologic surveys of the West. Hayden himself is also in need of explanation and description. He was truly an enigma—a dedicated scientist, a highly polished lobbyist, an inveterate self-promoter, a self-made man, a manipulator of friend and foe, and nearly always an outsider in the eastern scientific salons.

What this website presents most of all, however, is a version of the story of Colorado’s landscapes as explored and studied by Hayden and his men. Hayden was good at many things, but his most valuable asset was his ability to collect and use some of the best talent available. He employed the venerable tradition of landscape painting by hiring the soon-to-be-famous Thomas Moran. Moran was one of the first to see the impact of the emerging technology of photography, especially through William Henry Jackson’s eye. Hayden and his survey made scientific discoveries through the efforts of such exceptional scientists as Edward Driver Cope, Joseph Leidy, and Leo Lesquereux (all paleontologists of note); C. Hart Merriam (ornithologist); and several of the country’s best geologists and topographers. He attracted people with multiple talents; this was most notable with people such as William Henry Holmes, who was a talented geologist and an exquisite landscape artist. Holmes’s and others’ landscape drawings, called “pictorial sections” in the reports, are the pinnacle of the graphic portrayals chosen for this project.

An interesting point about how Hayden cited the multitude of drawings and photographs needs to be made. He freely acknowledged William Henry Jackson in each of the Annual Reports and lavished praise upon William Henry Holmes—a typical reference to Holmes was made in the report for the season of 1873 published in 1874. Hayden writes, “Mr. W. H. Holmes also made numerous panoramic sketches from the high peaks . . . the value of the report is greatly increased by the beautiful and accurate sketches and sections from the results of his skill” (Hayden 1874, 7). But Hayden barely mentions other artists and even ignores mentioning Moran’s famous sketch of Mount Holy Cross or even that Moran briefly joined the survey that summer season.

Hayden named his survey The United States Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territories. But it was much more than a geological or geographical description of Colorado and the West. He and his scientists and topographers looked at the land in all its varied facets. They described water resources, energy potential, agricultural promise, tourism attraction, and esoteric natural history phenomena. As published in the Annual Reports and various other survey publications, they discovered dozens of species of, as yet, unknown or unnamed animal and plant fossils, coal reserves, and flora and fauna. They mapped the land and gave shape to many a dream. I hope to have captured the spirit of their discoveries and the debt we owe them. This is a publication on Hayden’s Colorado and how we in the twenty-first century view it, use, love, or abuse it.

I hope the website is accessible to all. Hayden fought his own battles with other scientists—they thought he wrote too much for everyone. Foster once wrote about Hayden’s attitude toward other scientists, “A suspicion still existed in the minds of most scientists that anything appealing to the popular mind could not be good science” (Foster 1994, 247). He goes on to state, “the public could understand science if offered the facts in an attractive context.” I offer this online publication as an “attractive context”—I hope I have succeeded.


1. These are three different mountains with three substantially different elevations. There are places within the text where a single mountain may have various elevations measured because of differing altitude measuring methods.[LF1] [LF1]Prologue note. “Note” heading not needed if note links to superscript number in text.