Hayden Expedition

From Wyoming Tales and Trails

This Page: Ferdinand Hayden, William Henry Jackson, Thomas Moran, Gouverneur K. Warren.

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About This Site

Annie, the first boat on Lake Yellowstone, Hayden Expedition, 1871, Photo by Wm. H. Jackson

Shoshoni encampment, Wind River Basin, photo by Wm. H. Jackson, Library of Congress.

Much has been written of the Hayden Expedition to Yellowstone. It was as a result of the expedition that the area was designated as the world's first national park. Credit belongs not alone to one. Hayden had the foresight to include a photographer to document his findings. Photography in the field was difficult involving literally a wagon load of glass plates, chemicals, and a portable dark room. A photograph could take 45 minutes to take and in some instances all day. Neither Washburn in his earlier expedition, not Powell in his his first expedition down the Green River had included a photographer. The photographs alone would not have been sufficient to convince Congress to designate the park. For while they provide visual proof of the earlier claims of Bridger and Colter, they could not provide all of the splendor of the area. It was Moran armed only with a sketch pad, and his paintings, based on pencil sketches and notes, which provided the visual glory, indeed, to such an extent that Congress paid $10,000 for the first landscape ever to be purchased by Congress. Not to be forgotten either should be Jay Cooke, who provided, in the interests of Northern Pacific, the political and financial wherewithal necessary to obtain approval for the Hayden Expedition, and Congressional approval for the designation of the area as a National Park.

Hayden Expedition, Yellowstone, pencil by Thomas Moran, 1871

William H. Jackson at Mammoth Hot Springs, 1871

Hayden continued his expeditions to the west with another in 1872. In his expedition of 1873-1874 to Colorado, Hayden was the first Anglo-American to observe the Black Canyon of the Gunnison in Western Colorado. He pronounced it inaccessible.

Ferdinand V. Hayden, 1871, Wm. H. Jackson

The 1870 expedition was not Hayden's first trip into Wyoming. Hayden was a part of a scientific contingent under Gouverneur Kemble Warren in the military expedition into the Yellowstone and Powder River Country under the command of then Col. Wm. S. Harney. The expedition was intended to punish the Sioux for the massacre of Lt. John L. Grattan and his Company. Grattan was attempting to punish Indians for the butchering of a cow near Ft. Laramie. Harney, with a force of 600 men, came upon the camp of Chief Little Thunder near what is now Lewellyn, Neb. When the Indians began to flee, Haney deceived Little Thunder with a white flag of truce, then surrounded the camp, killing men, women and children. Warren reported: "The sight . . . was heart-rending--wounded women and children crying and moaning, horribly mangled by the bullets." Two dead women were found clutching their dead children. Thus ended the Battle of Blue Water Creek.

[Writer's note: Punitive expeditions against the Indians were nothing new with Col. Harney. He previously served in the Seminole Wars in Florida. In 1840, he and 32 men were guarding a store at Indian Key. The store was attacked by Chekika and Billy Bowlegs II. Eighteen of the troops were killed. Harney escaped wearing only his underwear. Harney organized a unit of 90 soldiers disguised as Indians and took Chekika and his men by surprise. Harney hanged Chekika and his men. In retaliation, the Miccosukee medicine man Arepeika ordered all white captives burned alive. The army ended its practice of hanging Indians. Arepeika was never captured and died in his 90's in Florida's Big Cypress Swamp.]

Hayden was by professional training a surgeon. His only practice, howver, was during the Civil War for the Union Army.

G. K. Warren

Gouverneur K. Warren graduated second in his class from West Point in 1850 and, thus, escaped from being placed on the faculty. Instead he was assigned to the Corps of Topographical Engineers and in 1854 was given the task of compiling a comprehensive map of the trans-Mississippi West. As a result, Warren made three surveys in Nebraska and Dakota, of which Wyoming was then a part. His 1856 expedition into the Yellowstone and Powder River Country included Ferdinand Hayden, who was a protege of Spencer Baird, a personal friend of Warren's. For his services, Warren offered Hayden either $200 for the expedition plus traveling expenses or or an annual salary of $1000. At the end of the year Hayden wrote an article for the National Intelligencer", to the annoyance of Warren, indicating that Hayden had received the appointment independently of the miltary or Warren.

F. V. Hayden, Raynolds Expedition of 1858

The following year Warren published what is regarded as the first "reasonably accurate map of the American West". The same year, however, on an expedition up the Loup Fork of the Platte a blow-up occurred between the two, with the risk to Hayden that he would be fired. The question of whether Hayden would be allowed to return on the following year's expedition was resolved when Warren's father died and Warren, to be closer to his family, accepted an appointment to the faculty of the Point. Capt. William F. Raynolds was assigned by Congress with a budget, upon the recommendation of Warren, of $60,000 to explore the mythical Upper Yellowstone and locate a suitable wagon road. Hayden remained with the expedition and continued to be an irritant. Raynold's expedition, guided by Jim Bridger, was plagued by snow and a mutiny. Raynold's report, itself, was not published until 1868, but it provided for the first time confirmation of Bridger's earlier claims and provided impetus for further exploration including Washburn's and Hayden's expeditions. Although a specific wagon road route was not located, several suggestions were contained in the report.

Beginning in 1853, proposals for a transcontinental railroad were put before Congress, which, however, was split along regional lines between a northerly route and a southerly route. With the secession of the South, however, the issue was decided with the survey parties of 1867-68 basing much of their work on Warren's map.

At the Battle of Gettysburg, Warren distinquished himself by saving the undefended Little Round Top, thus, turning the battle and ending the Confederate threat to Harrisburg which would, in turn, have made the defense of Washington difficult.

Next page Fort Washakie, Chief Washakie.