Ferdinand Vandeveer Hayden was born September 7, 1829 in Westfield, Massachusetts.
As a young boy he was fascinated with nature and wildlife, which led him into the field of medicine.
Ferdinand graduated from Oberlin College in 1850 and from the Albany Medical College in 1853, where he attracted the notice of Professor James Hall, state geologist of New York, through whose influence he was induced to join in an exploration of Nebraska Territory, with Fielding B. Meek to study geology and collect fossils.
After this expedition, Ferdinand spent the remainder of the 1850’s on various expeditions in the northern Missouri River areas sponsored in part by the Smithsonian Institution.
As a result, he published his “Geological Report of the Exploration of the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers in 1859–1860.”
Then when the American Civil War broke out, Ferdinand became an Army Surgeon.
After the war, he once more led geographic and geologic surveys of the Western Territories for the United States Government resulting in his 1867 appointment as geologist-in-charge of the United States Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territories.
In 1869, Ferdinand led an expedition along the Front Range to Denver and Sante Fe.
Then in 1870, he received an $25,000 governmental grant to lead a 20-man expedition to South Pass, Fort Bridger, Henry’s Fork, and back to Cheyenne.
About this time, he also became associated with the Megatherium Club at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.
In order to measure distances during their journeys into the western frontier, Ferdinand Hayden employed the use of an odometer, a device used by mappers to estimate distances traveled. The device was mounted on a mule-drawn cart that measured distances as the cart wheels rolled along. Because of rough terrain the device was only accurate to within about 3%.
Then in 1871, Ferdinand Hayden led a geological survey into the Yellowstone region of northwestern Wyoming.
The survey consisted of some 50 men which included painter Thomas Moran, and the famous frontier/Civil War photographer William Henry Jackson.
The following year Ferdinand published his Preliminary Report of the United States Geological Survey of Montana and Portions of Adjacent Territories; Being a Fifth Annual Report of Progress.
This comprehensive report on Yellowstone included large-format photographs by William Henry Jackson as well as paintings by Thomas Moran.
Ferdinand Hayden’s report became instrumental in convincing Congress to establish Yellowstone as the first U.S. National Park.
Yellowstone National Park
On March 1, 1872, President Ulysses S. Grant signed The Act of Dedication law that created Yellowstone National Park.
Ferdinand then went back to work as professor of geology at the University of Pennsylvania.
In 1879, when the United States Geological Survey was established, Ferdinand became one of the member geologists.
Then on December 22, 1887, Ferdinand Hayden died in Philadelphia.
Today, Hayden Valley in Yellowstone is named after him.
The town of Hayden, Colorado, located in the Yampa River valley, is named for him.
Many mountain peaks have been named after Ferdinand Hayden as well.
Ferdinand’s publications also encouraged the westward expansion of the United States.
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