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Harrison Crandall

Harrison R. Crandall – The Park’s First Official Photographer

“Crandall became the early park’s greatest publicist; he was to the Teton Range and Jackson Hole what the Hayneses were to Yellowstone”. This quote comes from the National Park Service’s web site. Harrison Crandall is most noted for his remarkable photography of the Jackson Hole valley and the Grand Teton mountain range. He spent most of his adult life in the valley, fulfilling a childhood dream of living in the shadows of the mountain range.

Whether you are a photographer, historian, or just a big fan of Grand Teton National Park, I believe you will enjoy this post!

Harrison Crandall and Studio

Harrison Crandall in front of his snowbound studio in Grand Teton National Park. The Crandall Studio was located near the Cathedral Group pullout on the way into String Lake. 

Harrison CrandallIn 1923, Harrison and his wife, Hiltegard, took the gamble to move to the area to homestead some land not far from String Lake. In the early years, they built a dance pavilion and photo studio. Harrison, or Hank as he preferred to be called, played in the orchestra. During the long winters, he cut ice on Jackson Lake to pay bills. In the summers, he photographed the scenery and wildlife and sold prints and postcards in his studio.

Harrison was a “Jack of All Trades”. To make a living in the harsh Jackson Hole valley in the early ‘20s, he’d need many skills. In short, he was a homesteader, rancher, builder, designer, entertainer, artist, photographer, pictorial artist, sign painter, businessman, naturalist, and visionary.

Hank’s daughter, Quita, explained how Harrison would cross country ski across frozen Jackson Lake to get supplies at the town of Moran. Only a few foundations still stand where Moran once stood. If you look you can find them along the north side of the Snake River and East of the Jackson Lake Dam. She said Hank had a warming hut near Spaulding Bay in case the weather got too bad.

Painted Photo at Dornans

This image is hanging on the East wall of the Dornan’s store at Moose. It’s an example of the hand tinted photos Harrison produced.

As the area developed, Harrison Crandall saw the need to preserve the land for future generations. He was one of the first to sell his holdings to the Snake River Land Company. The land company later donated their purchases to the government to become Grand Teton National Park. Hank negotiated a deal to stay on his place with a 20 year concessionaire’s license, allowing him to continue to sell his cards and prints and help promote the park. Grand Teton National Park gave him the title: “The Official Park Photographer”. After the contract, the Crandalls moved their operation to a new location on Antelope Flats Road, the park service moved Hank’s studio to the Jenny Lake area and converted it to a visitor’s center—still in use today.

Crandall Original Studio

Crandall’s Original Log Studio: This building was moved to the Jenny Lake visitor’s center and is now on the registry of National Historic Places.

JennyLakeHistoricDistrict

Source: GTNP Jenny Lake Historic District – Grand Teton National Park

Inside Crandall Studio

Prints and Postcards were sold at his original Studio.Harrison was also credited with being the first business to sell souvenirs to tourists coming to Grand Teton National Park.

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The Crandall Studio after being moved to the Jenny Lake area.

Web_JennyLakeNationalRegister_May10Web_JennyLakeHistoricSign_May10Web_JennyLakeHarrisonDudeSign_May10

Signs and Plaques near the entrance at the Jenny Lake Visitors Center. Click any of the thumbnails to view it much larger.

A Few Harrison Crandall Postcards: Click one to view a slide show.

Sign and Pictorial Shop

Besides photography, Harrison Crandall was also a pictorial painter and fine art painter. He also supplemented his income painting signs and show cards.

Pictures Film and Books

One of Crandall’s own signs advertising his products.

1942BrochureCoverThis 1942 Official Park booklet lists Harrison R. Crandall as the source for photography, with rates approved by the Secretary of the Interior as explained in the scanned image below. Most of the photos in the booklet were taken by Harrison Crandall.

 

1942GTNPBrochure

Page from the interior of the Park Booklet. Click the image to see it much larger.

Tetons In Pictures TetonsInPictures_orangeHarrison produced at least two books containing his photos. There were also two editions of each. I couldn’t find a date on either version, but the photos appear to be circa 1941. Terry Winchell at Fighting Bear Antiques suggests the orange one was produced a couple of years prior to the green one. The images are printed in sepia tones.

Tetons In Color Cover

Tetons in Color: 1953. Most of the photos in this book were taken by Harrison Crandall. Some were photographed in black and white, then hand tinted.

Tetons In Color Inside Cover1953

Comments from the Superintendent: I included this page from the book to illustrate Crandall’s apparent skills of negotiating a deal and success in self promotion. Click the image to see it much larger.

Tetons In Color 1955_600“The Tetons in Color” was printed again in 1955. It had the same inner cover page seen above. Besides the change to the cover, quite a few of the images on the inside were updated.

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Harrison’s Second Studio and House:

Paintbrush Point 2009

Paintbrush Point: This is Harrison’s second house located on Antelope Flats Road. I took this image in 2009. The house, studio, and other outbuildings were recently torn down by the new owner.

Second Studio

Crandall’s second studio on Antelope Flats Road. There was a large darkroom in the back where Harrison and Herb Pownall projected the large images.

Web_PaintbrushPoint_May10

Paint Brush Point: State of the progress on the new house at Crandall’s last house.

Harrison’s books, photos and postcards are quite collectible! Crandall Post Cards on eBay. Click the links here to see a lot of his post cards and photos available to eBay right now! Harrison Crandall on eBay.

HarrisonCrandallRecently, Kenneth A. Barrick published a book called, “Harrison R. Crandall – Creating a Vision of Grand Teton National Park”. Publisher: Gibbs Smith (September 1, 2013)

This is my favorite book about this area! It is a MUST HAVE for anyone interested in Grand Teton National Park, photography, and the history of the park. I like this kind of book because you can open it up to any page and begin reading something interesting or view Harrison’s impressive photos of the time. I’ve only scratched the surface in this post. Pick up a book at any of these sources for much more information about Harrison Crandall.

Amazon:  |  Abe Books  |  Fighting Bear Antiques

Herb & Quita

Special thanks to Quita and Herb Pownall for information and photos. Quita is Harrison’s daughter and Herb worked in the photo studio for many years. Herb married boss’ daughter. A couple of years ago, they sold the Crandall house and studio on Antelope Flats road. Herb and Quita currently live in Laramie, WY.

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Comments (10)

  1. Don George

    Mike,
    Excellent post! Didn’t realize that the place I’ve gone past many times over the years was the second Crandall studio. I noticed the construction going on and was wondering what was happening. You certainly cleared up a lot of questions that have been going through my mind. Hope someone at least kept the Crandall Studio sign that was in the window. History marches on.

  2. John, I spoke with Terry Winchell at Fighting Bear Antiques today. He said the family kept the signs.

  3. John Kester

    My family has a copy of the Denver Post rotogravure section of the paper with a photograph made by Crandall from 1939. The full page photo shows a young lady in western attire riding a horse in front of the Tetons. The photo is of my mother-in-law, Carol Kester. Carol is 94 years old and remembers her experiences in the Tetons very well. If you are interested I can forward a copy of the Denver Post cover story.
    John Kester

  4. Heck Yes! I’d love to see it! MJ

  5. Margaux Christensen

    John do you still have a copy of this story? I am one of the great grand children of Harrison Crandall.

  6. Robert Kohn

    Hi Mike,
    I have an amazing picture of my grandfather who worked in Camp Prentice in Moran for the CCC that I am sure was taken by Harrison. I also just received an amazing treasure trove of letters that my grandfather Alexander had sent back to his family. In it he mentions that he was doing bookkeeping for the “photographer” which is why he was able to send back so many pictures of the camp and himself. Some have been lost, but others I am now searching for with my uncle. However, I am hoping that you might be able to help me locate the negatives or prints of these pictures. He was part of the very first group that arrive in the Summer of 1933. Any assistance on where I could search and/or obtain them would be appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Robert

  7. Robert, You might try contacting Kenneth Barrick. He wrote the Harrison Crandall book and seems to know all the players. That’s the best I can offer. MJ

  8. Robert Kohn

    Do you have his contact information?
    Thanks!

  9. No…sorry. If I were looking for Kenneth Barrick, I’d do a Google search. I am sure his name will be associated with the book along with the college he works as a professor. Somewhere along the way, you should find all of his contact info.

  10. Dan balluff

    Thanks for the great detail. I bought a pile of photos in the 80’s at an antique store in Boise. Included a copyrighted Roosevelt portrait. They are so nice.

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