Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Yellowstone Tour 1909

From our collection ... views from 1909

Lone Star Geyser
"Most symmetrical and perfect geyser cone
in the Park"
These are "stereoview cards or stereographs" ... approximately 7 inches by 3 1/4 inches. Published by Keystone View Company, 1909. The cards are slightly curved.

The Growler, the Hurricane, and Old Constant Geyser
"Here all is noise, uproar, confusion and surprises."
The cards are intended to be used with a "stereoviewer." Our introduction to stereoviews is in our post of January 8, 2016, here. When viewed through the right viewer the 3D effect is quite amazing.

Queer Old Liberty Cap and
Mammoth Springs Hotel
Each card has a brief description and card number printed on the front at the bottom. A more detailed description is printed on the back ... see example below (near end of post).

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
"You are standing on Inspiration Point looking
directly up the canyon toward Yellowstone Falls."
Most stereoviews published around this time were black and white although there are some "colorized" versions out there.

Yellowstone Lake Paint Pots
"The Paint Pots are like great cauldrons of cooking
pigments, unlimited in quantity and in variety of color."

Obsidian Cliffs
"The material of which this escarpment of volcanic
outpouring consists is a true natural glass."
This set of cards is Volume 1 of a Tour of the World. We do not have any of the other Volumes in the set. Anyone who has the full set in good condition has a real treasure!

Commotion in the Devil's Ink Pot
"Many things about the Yellowstone Park suggest the
'Lower Regions,' that place of torment, prepared for the sinful,
and characterized by great heat and the fumes of burning brimstone."
Regarding the captions, the portions in quotes are taken from the back of the cards. Other parts of the captions are usually from the brief description on the front.

Castle Geyser and Its Indicator in Activity
"The Castle has the largest and highest cone of any geyser
in the park. It is about 30 feet in height and the diameter of
the base is about 100 feet."

Rocky Mountain Divide
"One of the most interesting parts of the coach tour of the Park is
along Isa Lake. When the water is high in this lake it actually flows
out in two directions --- one part going to the Atlantic ocean and
the other to the Pacific ocean."
We wonder how many people viewed these kinds of cards and then decided to see the Park in person. In those days a trip to Yellowstone was quite expensive and a serious journey.

A Beaver Dam
"Here we have true terraced pools, as whe have at the Hot Springs; but
these are much larger, the waters are soft and cold, and the builders of these
dams wer living and intelligent agents instead of unconscious chemical and
physical forces."

Sunset Glory, Lower Basin
Regarding the card above ... it is difficult to experience the glory of a sunset in black and white but they gave it a good try.

Upper Falls
"The Upper Falls of the Yellowstone are interesting not only because
of their rocky setting, which is unusually fine, but because the waters
are so suddenly massed at the summit and so precipitately plunged into
a deep, seething pool 112 feet below."

#13578 -- A Thousand Time Better Than Words ---
Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
"In whatever light and in whatever mood of mind one may
view the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, he finds it
surprising, beautiful, and enchanting."

Summit of the Upper Falls

After Winter's First Visit
"In this view the young lady is standing between the
roadside and the canyon of the Little Gardiner River,
and is helping herself from a drift of freshly fallen snow."

Gardiner and National Park Entrance
"This view shows: The Gardiner Railway Station and the
Monumental Arch which spans the carriage road as it crosses
the northern boundary line of the Park."

Old Faithful -- Queen of Geysers
"The geyser here seen is perhaps the most famous in the world."

Gateway to the Park
"Visitors to the Yellowstone National Park, on leaving the railway
station at Gardiner, immediately pass through the monumental stone
archway, shown in this view, and thereby enter upon a governmental
reservation that was set aside by Congressional enactment in 1872, 'For
the benefit and enjoyment of the people.'"

Bee Hive Geyser
"The Bee Hive is one of the intensely interesting geysers
of the Upper Basin."
Who was the photographer? ...

Are you wondering who took these photos and who deserves the credit? According to the Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin, "The Keystone View Company was founded in Meadville, Pennsylvania in 1892. By 1905 it was the foremost producer of stereo views in the world. From 1892 to 1963 Keystone produced both educational and comic/sentimental view images using staff photographers whose work was not credited. In 1963 the company was sold and its home-sales stereo view division was closed."

The Noisy Roadside Growler
"The Growler is properly named."

A Little Hot Pot, Crest of Jupiter Terrace
"Watch it Boil!"

Firehole River
"The view on this card is of a spot along the Firehole Rive, but it
is only a sample of hundreds of similar scenes in this wonderland."

Hayden Valley
"On this trip the tourist crosses the celebrated Hayden Valley, which
with its meandering outline of forest border, approximately circular,
has an average diameter of nearly ten miles."

Great Falls and Grand Canyon

Back of card: Great Falls and Grand Canyon and example of
how each card has a description printed on the back.

Looking Down the Grand Canyon from Inspiration Point

Famous Fishpot and Beautiful Yellowstone Lake
We are curious ... 

What do you think about these old photographs? Isn't it interesting to look at the changes in just over 100 years ... and, yet, Yellowstone itself has not really changed that much, has it?

Fascinating story of "one of those places they talk about."
"Catch a trout from the cool waters of the lake and,
without changing your position or taking the fish from the hook,
can drop it in a hot spring and cook it to a finish."

Golden Gate
"The 'Golden Gate,' in the Yellowstone National Park, was so named,
first, because the entrance from below appears like a gateway; and, second,
because the abundance of yellow lichens that flourish on the walls of
the cliffs gives to large patches, aggregating acres of surface, a
decidedly yellow color."

The old container showing its age.
If you are interested in learning more about the Keystone View Company and the full Tour of the World, the University of Texas appears to have the full set here.

Overview of container and cards.
If you have not seen Yellowstone National Park in person we urge you to put it on your list of places to see. It is one of the most fascinating places in the world.


  1. Enjoyed the vintage cards John. I have never been to Yellowstone. Perhaps some day I might be lucky enough to get there. It has always been of interest to me.

  2. thing in my mind...the enjoyment those viewers gave folks way before the machines. ;)

  3. Just out of curiosity, I tried the "magic eye" trick of holding the stereoviewer picture up close and backing it off a little and guess what? I could see the stereo effect, even though I got two pictures! :-)

  4. For the time and technology they took some awesome photos. It's surprising how much tourism there was at that time. I had never heard of stereoviewer.

  5. We are passing through Yellowstone in the summer this year, so looking forward to it. Great photos.

  6. Such a difference in the quality of picture from then till now but they did great with what they had.
    Visiting Yellowstone is something everyone should do if they get the chance.

  7. Fascinating for sure. I guess I'm really thankful that today,we not only have pictures in color,but also digital so they are easily shared.Thanks for sharing these.

  8. Hello John, Yellowstone is one of my favorite parks. So I really enjoyed this post and your collection of cards.

    Happy Friday, enjoy your weekend! Happy Easter to you and your family.

  9. Hi John, just back to wish you a Happy Easter. God bless!

  10. Amazing how the world has changed through time. This photo says a lot about history. I wish I can visit. :)

    Happy Easter (belated), John.

  11. These old postcards from your collection are always so fascinating, John.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Greetings from Turin!

  12. Wonderful retrospect. I actually have two stereoscope I inherited from my paternal grandparents and several boxes of pictures including a few of your collection. My dad was born in 1909 and many of the pictures were from touristy places in Western Europe...:)


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