33 – Yampa Valley’s First Photo

By Museum of Northwest Colorado

This photo may look faded and unassuming, but don’t let it fool you. Taken c. 1877 it is the earliest known photograph captured of the Yampa Valley!
The 140+ year old picture depicts the first permanent structure of what would soon become the town of Hayden. It is the residence Major J.B. Thompson located just north of the current town site of Hayden near the banks of the Yampa River.
While the exact story of how Mr. Thompson made his way into the Yampa Valley is somewhat muddled, what is known is that he
arrived in 1876 not long after the Smart family. Together, the Thompsons and Smarts are considered the co-founders of the town of Hayden. The Smarts even operated the first post office in Northwest Colorado out of their house beginning on November 15, 1875.
In 1877 Thompson became Routt County’s first Clerk & Recorder and Smart was named as one of first 3 county commissioners. With mounting fear of the impending Ute uprising, both the Thompsons and Smarts moved their families from the Yampa Valley in 1879.