Originally a studio photographer from the North Dakota Territory, Haynes spent most of his career documenting in pictures the development of the western territories. Commissioned in 1876 to make views along the route of the Northern Pacific Railroad, he traveled through the West until 1905, working in a railroad car equipped as both gallery and darkroom. Besides photographing spectacular views of natural scenery, Haynes produced an extensive record of the modification of the landscape by raliroad and industry.
On an 1881 trip to the newly created Yellowstone Park, via the new line of his railroad company employer, Haynes decided to pursue a commercial concession as park photographer. In 1884 he opened a studio and photography gallery in Yellowstone, selling to tourists prints of the park's natural wonders, such as the Lone Star Geyser Cone. For more than thirty years Haynes served as the official photographer of Yellowstone National Park.
Merry A. Foresta American Photographs: The First Century (Washington, D.C.: National Museum of American Art with the Smithsonian Institution Press, 1996)