Lyman Byxbe

1886 – 1980

Born in Ilinois, Lyman Byxbe became a commercial artist. While working in Omaha, Nebraska about 1926, he became acquainted with Mark Levings, an architect who taught Byxbe the etching process. According to a story in The Prints of Lyman Byxbe by R. Crump, Byxbe’s daughter, Alice, stated that his first etching was so good technically that Levings told him to go home. He didn’t need any help. Possibly Levings’ more profound influence on Byxbee was in telling him about the beauty of Colorado. Levings was a frequent visitor to the Estes Park area and Byxbe and his wife made their first visit in 1922.

Initially Byxbe and his wife went to Estes Park each summer but, by 1930, he had such a successful business making etchings for residents and tourists that he moved there permanently in 1934. His etchings were mostly small and, in accord with his philosophy (” I have set my prices according to their pocketbooks”), allowed almost anyone to have an original Lyman Byxbe print of one of the scenic vistas of the Rocky Mountain National Park area.

He began to get national recognition for his work by the mid- 1930’s. He was invited to join the Chicago Society of Etchers. He was invited to exhibit his work in a one-man show at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Some of his prints were purchased by the Congressional Library. He work was reproduced in newspapers and magazines. An exhibition of his work was hung at the Joslyn Memorial Art Museum in Omaha.

The “Lone Pine” tree was a famous landmark. It was a ponderosa pine that grew from a small crevice in solid rock. Twisted into an “s” shape, it had struggled to survive. Growing along the road, its picturesqueness guaranteed it would become legendary as the most photographed tree in the world. It was only about 8 feet high and was known to the earliest Estes Park travelers. In the late 1940’s it began to die, possibly from tourists picking its needles and bark for souvenirs. By 1949 it had decayed to a dead stump. In 1954 a small seedling ponderosa found growing in the area was transplanted into the lone pine crevice by Dr. and Mrs. George Hoffmeister of Hastings, Nebraska. Dr. Hoffmeister was the son of the Hoffmeisters that had owned the Lone Pine Lodge located directly across from the tree during the 1940’s. This tree has survived but it grows straight and tall without the character possessed by the original “Lone Pine” seen in Byxbe’s etching.

Lone Pine
signed in pencil in the margin
image size 5 x 7