The Center for Land Use Interpretation Newsletter

Kodachrome Park

Kodak Park
Kodak Park, New York, where Kodachrome came from . . .
Kodachrome Basin Park, Utah
. . . and Kodachrome Basin Park, Utah, where Kodachrome pictures were taken. CLUI photo

PHOTOGRAPHY AND LANDSCAPE ARE UNIQUELY fused at Kodachrome Basin State Park, in Utah. In 1948 the National Geographic Society explored and photographed this area east of Bryce Canyon, hoping to find “unexplored and unnamed” geographical oddities. An account of the expedition, titled “First Motor Sortie Into Escalante Land,” appeared in the September 1949 issue of National Geographic magazine. The article depicts an area the writers named “Kodachrome Flat,” after the film famous for its color saturation, which had been invented in 1935, and was often used and promoted by the Society. (The article also had a photograph of a natural arch which they named after the President of the Society, Gilbert Grosvenor, though the picture of the arch was shot with Ektachrome, not Kodachrome film).

“Kodachrome Flat” became a state park in 1962, but fearing retribution from Kodak, the state named it Chimney Rock State Park. The company later approved renaming it back to Kodachrome Basin, and it remains one of the few, if not the only, State Parks named after a trademarked product. Kodachrome itself has not fared so well. Kodak ceased production of the fabled film in 2009. The last certified processor of it, Dwayne’s Photo in Parsons, Kansas, will cease production at the end of 2010. The last few rolls of film off the assembly line at Kodak Park were donated to the archives and museum at the George Eastman House in Rochester. Steve McCurry, the National Geographic photographer who shot the magazine’s most famous cover (June 1985’s “Afghan girl”) will be taking pictures with some of these last rolls of Kodachrome, and will donate them to the George Eastman House archive.