While Wallace Nutting was busy photographing the relatively tame back roads of New England, F. Jay Haynes (1853-1921) was just as busy photographing the considerably less-tamed Western American Frontier. With a photographic career beginning in the mid-1870’s, the Haynes photographic tradition was passed along to his son, Jack Ellis Haynes, who continued the Haynes family photography business until the 1950’s. Both father and son probably contributed more to popularizing Yellowstone National Park than anyone else and the results of their work is being actively collected today by a growing number of collectors.
Born in Saline, Michigan, Frank Jay Haynes began his photographic career around 1874 in Michigan and Wisconsin, In 1876 he opened his own studio in Moorhead, Minnesota and in 1879, when it became obvious that Fargo, North Dakota was becoming a major city, the 26-year old Haynes shifted his main studio there. His earliest photographic commissions were primarily portrait views. This portion of his business proved to be an immediate success and at the height of his early career he had two employees in his Fargo establishment whose sole job was making portraits.
Up to the 1870’s the Railroads usually employed skilled artists who painted or sketched the spectacular western views in order to glamorize the scenery offered by their respective railway routes. Wet plate photography was the standard photographic process at this time. This typically involved a bulky camera, heavy glass plate negatives, and portable darkrooms necessary for developing sensitized negatives almost immediately upon their initial photographic exposure and the difficulty of utilizing this process in the harsh western U.S. environments should be apparent.
Haynes career took a major turn in the late 1870’s when the Northern Pacific Railroad hired him to become their “Official Photographer“. In addition to a fair salary, Haynes was given a rebuilt Pullman railroad car that became his personal rolling photographic studio. His job was to thoroughly photograph the railroad’s facilities such as stations, bridges, rail yards, rolling cars and stock, and company buildings. Haynes also photographed the beautiful countryside wherever the railroad’s tracks went…horses, wild animals, stagecoaches, military forts, trading posts, Indians, tepees, river boats, etc. The Northern Pacific then used Haynes’ photographs in their advertising and travel brochures, hoping to attract more commercial and passenger business for the railroad.
Haynes also promoted his personal photography business while traveling on railroad business. Recognizing the need for a professional photographer among the increasing volume of settlers moving west, Haynes would advertise in local papers along the Northern Pacific route that the Haynes Palace Studio Car would be in town on a particular day and that his photographic services would be available in towns having no permanent professional photographer. This advanced notice enabled families to travel to town in the family wagon, dressed in their Sunday best, for the annual family photogravure. Businesses, merchants, and anyone needing photographic services could take advantage of his availability. Haynes would then perform his developing and processing right there in his rolling studio car, thereby earning both private commissions and railroad pay. Haynes traveled through the Dakotas, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Oregon and Washington for the Northern Pacific and to Yellowstone in the 1882-1883, taking a large number of views wherever he went.
He continued to operate the Haynes Studio railroad car gallery from 1885-1905. He moved his studio to St. Paul, Minnesota in 1889 and traveled throughout the West and Alaska earning the reputation as one of the West’s finest early photographers.
F Jay Haynes also covered many special events during his career. For example, in 1883 President Chester A. Arthur, along with a party that included a Lt. General, the Secretary of War, and a US Senator, traveled by horse back touring Ft. Washakie, The Tetons, and Yellowstone Park. With fresh horses pre-positioned every 20 miles to provide the traveling party with communication with the outside world, F Jay Haynes traveled along with that party as its official photographer
Because of his familiarity with the photographic requirements needed to popularize a railroad Haynes was also hired by the Canadian Pacific Railroad in 1881 as their first official photographer as well. While working for the Canadian Pacific Haynes utilized a stereo camera and sold stereo cards glamorizing the Canadian Pacific route and was rewarded with a free unlimited-use railway pass in honor of his services.
But it was the beauty of Yellowstone Park that would capture most of Haynes’ life. Haynes work at Yellowstone began in the early 1880’s and in 1884 he became Yellowstone’s first Official Photographer. Yellowstone was the first National Park ever designated by the Federal Government and F Jay Haynes obtained the first federally-issued license to operate a photographic concession in Yellowstone at Mammoth Hot Springs. Haynes opened The Log Cabin Studio, which served Yellowstone for many years selling photos to visiting tourists.
Photography wasn’t Haynes only business venture at Yellowstone. The Northern Pacific used Haynes photography to lure tourists to visit Yellowstone and the Western U.S. but, once they arrived, someone had to transport them from the railroad station to their lodgings and throughout Yellowstone Park. Again enter F Jay Haynes. His short-lived Yellowstone National Park Transportation Company was later replaced by the Monida and Yellowstone Stage Line which became the principal carrier of passengers entering through Yellowstone’s western park entrance. At its peak Haynes’ stage line had 18 stagecoaches and surreys and was responsible for transporting nearly 40% of all of Yellowstone’s annual visitors. However in 1916 control of the newly founded national park was turned over to the National Park Service which terminated Haynes transportation contract and replaced it with a motorized transportation company under their direct control.
Partly due to the closing of his transportation business, and partly due to his age, Haynes retired in 1916, turning control of the photography business to his son…Jack Ellis Haynes. F Jay Haynes died in 1921.
Although Jack Ellis Haynes continued to sell hand-colored photographs made from his father’s negatives, most of his work consisted of machined-produced prints of his father’s works, including postcards, travel brochures, Yellowstone Travel Books, etc. The pictures of Jack Ellis Haynes are generally not as collectible as those of his father. Jack ran the family business until the 1950’s. He had hoped that his daughter would become the 3rd generation to carry on the family’s Yellowstone Park business but his only child, Lida Haynes, died in an automobile accident in 1952 at the age of 20. Jack Ellis Haynes died in 1964.
The volume of Haynes work was tremendous. In addition to 2,400 Stereoviews, Haynes produced thousands of Cabinet Cards, thousands of individual and family portraits, and tens of thousands of hand-colored photographs. Today more than 24,000 glass and film negatives from the Haynes Collection reside at the Montana Historical Society. These include Haynes pictures from Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Washington, Idaho, Alaska, many of his Northern Pacific Railroad pictures, and of course, his Yellowstone Park images.
What types of Haynes Memorabilia are being collected today? Probably a lot more than you would think.
Views of Yellowstone Park: Probably the Holy Grail of F Jay Haynes collecting is a presentation portfolio of early Yellowstone pictures titled “Views of Yellowstone Park“. Henry Vihlein (1844-1922), a nephew of Joseph Schlitz (founder & owner of Milwaukee’s Schlitz Brewery) commissioned Haynes to take a series of 12 Yellowstone hand painted pictures which were then bound in a high quality leather-bound book and given to a very limited number of his friends and associates. We have only personally seen one of these complete books and they are considered extremely rare and desirable among Haynes collectors.
Photographs and Stereocards: Haynes Cabinet Cards, Carte-de-Visites, Portraits, and Stereo Cards are highly sought-after by photography collectors. Subject matter and condition will generally determine value.
Hand-Colored Photographs: Haynes hand tinted photographs are highly sought-after by collectors of early 20th c. hand-colored photography. Pretty much the only hand-colored Haynes views that you will find are from Yellowstone Park and usually include Old Faithful, other geysers, Animals, Great Falls, Lower Falls, and other magnificent views throughout the park. These pictures were hand colored in oils in the Haynes Studio and typically sold to Yellowstone visitors and tourists, with some being much rarer than others.
The most desirable are Haynes earliest hand-colored albumen prints which are often unsigned or unmarked in any way. Those earlier hand-colored pictures issued by F Jay Haynes himself are generally more desirable than those later pictures issued by his son.
More often than not Haynes pictures were impressed with the “Haynes” name rather than signed in pencil or pen. Usually “Haynes, Yellowstone Park” or “Haynes Studio, St Paul” will be impressed in small letters, either into the image itself, or into the matting. Usually no more than 30+ commercial Yellowstone titled were sold, yet these came in a multitude of sizes (2.5×5″ to 24×36″) and in several different formats (matted & close-framed; rectangular & round frames; etc). Round frames and larger sizes are fairly unusual.
Books: Although not an author himself several books have been written about F Jay Haynes including “Following the Frontier” (Freeman Tilden) and “F Jay Haynes, Photographer” (Montana Historical Society). Each of these books include significant Haynes biographical information and reproductions of many of his photographs.
Yellowstone Park Guides: The Haynes Guide was published and updated nearly every year between 1890-1966. These were widely regarded as the best Yellowstone Guidebooks in print and included facts and trivia about Yellowstone Park along with, of course, many Haynes Yellowstone pictures. Most Haynes’ Guides were from the later Jack Ellis Haynes years.
Machine-Produced Prints: As time and technology progressed, Haynes’ hand-colored pictures were replaced by less expensive machine-produced color litho prints. These prints were sold both individually and in packaged portfolios. Machine-produced prints are from the later Jack Ellis Haynes years and are not nearly as collectible as Haynes’ hand-colored pictures.
Postcards, Postcard Folders & Photo Packs: Haynes Yellowstone pictures were widely sold through various individual postcards, souvenir postcard folders, and smaller photo packs. These were sold both by Haynes and through other Yellowstone vendors. Most were from the later Jack Ellis Haynes years.
Yellowstone Souvenir Booklets: Over the years the Haynes Studio either issued their own souvenir photo albums, or had some of their Haynes Yellowstone pictures appear in Yellowstone photo albums and booklets issued by others. We have seen at least six such albums and most likely there are many others. Most of these were from the later Jack Ellis Haynes years.
Miscellaneous Yellowstone Memorabilia: We have also seen other non-Haynes items sold with the “Haynes” name attached. For example we have seen an “Old Faithful” etching that carried both the original artist’s name alongside the “Haynes” name. We have seen an R Atkinson Fox Yellowstone print that carried both the “Fox” name on the print and the “Haynes” name impressed into the matting. We have seen governmental Yellowstone publications that featured Haynes pictures. And we have even seen a hand-colored framed window glass designed to attract sunlight through Old Faithful.
So, the next time you hear the name “F Jay Haynes“, Yellowstone Park and Western US should immediately come to mind.