USGS Photographic Archive Rules Your Eyes

Massive free collection gives a peek into the past

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

I’ve often cruised across the vast open spaces of the west, wondering what it looked like without roads and before most of the people got there. Luckily, the U.S. Geological Survey gives me a peek into that past with their online archive.

The USGS Photographic Collection features over 38,000 photos dating from the 1870s on; some were taken by legends like W.H. Jackson, J.K. Hillers, and T. Moran. They’ll continue scanning their archives and adding on to these moments in time captured from an Old West long forgotten.

You’ve got plenty of soaring mountains and obscure passes, but the archives also feature some of the first recorded photos of places like Mount Rainier, Yellowstone, and other national parks. You’ll also be able to check out natives hunting caribou, homesteaders eking out a living from the land, and numerous hidden geological formations.

Best of all, the archive is keyword searchable, available at high resolutions, and totally free. If there’s a high schooler working on a history project about the Old West or geology, this’ll practically guarantee a better grade score. You’re welcome.

— Ted Alvarez

USGS Photographic Library

Via The Goat

Trending on Backpacker