How Has Colorado’s Landscape Changed Since 1873?

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Photo: LaPlatas From Hesperus Sketch
The La Plata Mountains as seen from Mt. Hesperus during the Hayden Survey.
Photo: LaPlatas From Hesperus Photo
The La Plata mountains as seen from Mt. Hesperus.

Do you ever imagine what Colorado looked like before millions of people moved here? A new website lets you compare what parts of Colorado looked like in the 1870s with what they look like today. University of Colorado Colorado Springs geographer Tom Huber searched out the locations where artists sketched landscapes in 1873 for the Hayden Geological Survey. His photos and the drawings are placed side by side online at Hayden's Landscapes Revisited.

The Hayden Survey, along with others, eventually became part of the United States Geological Survey.

Huber says some of the landscapes have changed quite a bit and others hardly at all. He also says that the artists of the Hayden survey often took license with their subjects, as in Thomas Moran's drawing of Mt. Holy Cross, seen below. Huber says Moran added features and changed the perspective when he sketched the iconic peak.

Photo: Mt Holy Cross Sketch
Mt. Holy Cross as drawn by Thomas Moran for the Hayden Survey.
Photo: Mt Holy Cross
Mt. Holy Cross