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Images of America: Geyser Basins of…
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Images of America: Geyser Basins of Yellowstone (WY)

by Dr. N. Genean Dunn

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When you purchase one of the Images of America books you know what you are going to get. Usually, it is a labor of love by a fan, aficionado, sometimes a real expert on a particular subject. There will be a lot of pictures and varying degrees of real information. In the past, my experience with these books has varied based on my interest in the area and the knowledge of the writer. Worst case scenarios are those where the writer/compiler is more fan than expert. Again, if I have enough interest in the area, the book might be partially saved by the images. (That, after all, is the name of the series.)

Ultimately, I have learned I better care only about those images. If there is good information associated with it, then that is lagniappe.

In this book on the geyser basins of Yellowstone there are excellent images. The Dunn’s have drawn from a wealth of archives (including their own pictures) to show how different the area looked and, perhaps more startlingly, the access visitors had in the past. The cover photo shows a gentleman standing on the Giant Geyser platform. With the current restrictions in the park, it seems incongruous. And there are many pictures where we are taken aback by this unrestricted access. But this picture also provides insight into what we will experience throughout the book. This image provides real sense for the size of Giant’s cone – a sense we do not really get when we stand on the boardwalks. And that is where these pictures really shine. They provide different perspectives on the features (Fan and Mortar, and Riverside from opposite sides of the river from where they are now viewed, people standing next to features so you can see the true size, looking directly into various vents).

But here’s the one that really caught me by surprise. The book shows what the features looked like without the boardwalks. My entire experience has (of course) been with the current configuration of boardwalks. This causes arbitrary delineations that we just accept as normal. That is, until you see a picture of Excelsior, or Beehive, or Grand, or Daisy and their surrounding area with no constraints. Our current world arbitrarily divides features into right and left of the boardwalk. Lines have been drawn. These pictures remind us that these features were a part of nature that just grew where it decided to grow – with no divisions.

The images are very good.

But there is also the lagniappe. The Dunn’s are quite knowledgeable about the area, they have access to good information, and they are explorers who know the area. Yes, they are fans, but they are fans who know what they are talking about.

If you are just being introduced to the fascinating world of Yellowstone geysers, this isn’t necessarily the place to start. You will gain history, but not insight into how they work or what you should be looking for. But if you are exploring deeper, then this is an excellent book.

And if you just like seeing the way people used to travel in the past – how they experienced the wonders of nature that were being discovered in America – then you will enjoy this glimpse into travelling our first National Park. ( )
  figre | Mar 1, 2016 |
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