Our Historical Markers across Nebraska highlight fascinating moments and places in our state’s past. Today we focus on William Henry Jackson, a photographer and explorer of the Old West whose photos of Yellowstone helped give us our first national park.
1401-1499 Douglas St, Omaha, Douglas County, Nebraska
View this marker’s location 41.258536, -95.93473
From 1867 to 1869 the first photography studio of William Henry Jackson, renowned photographer, artist, and explorer of the Old West, stood on the northwest corner of this block. His autobiography, Time Exposure, reports that in 1869 Omaha had the vitality of “a boom town.” Jackson first crossed Nebraska in 1866 on the Oregon Trail, working as a bullwhacker with a freighting outfit. His sketches of the trip vividly depicted the trail experience. In 1870 he joined the Hayden Geological Survey, which took him and artist Thomas Moran to Wyoming’s Yellowstone region. By revealing Yellowstone’s wonders, Jackson’s photographs and Moran’s paintings contributed to the establishment of our first national park. Jackson’s camera also focused on the infant towns along the Union Pacific Railroad, Nebraska’s Pawnee Indians, the cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde, and the Mountain of the Holy Cross in Colorado, which inspired a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. In 1898 Jackson captured scenes of Omaha’s Trans-Mississippi Exposition. Although his life spanned nearly a century, Jackson’s photographs and sketches of the glorious landscapes of the nineteenth-century West are his enduring legacy.