Learn about the history of Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks.

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Happy Birthday to Yellowstone Park


President Ulysses S. Grant signed the bill that created Yellowstone National Park on March 1, 1872. The act put the federal government in the business of managing public land for recreation and marked the culmination of the national park idea that had been percolating for some time. There were several rationales for setting aside the area surrounding the headwaters of the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers “for the benefit and instruction of the people.” First was the determination that the area wasn’t good for anything else. The U.S. Geological Survey lead by Ferdinand V. Hayden in the summer of 1871 had determined that the area was not fit for agriculture and it was not likely that there were any mineral deposits worth mining there. Setting the area aside, proponents of the bill said, “would take nothing from the value of the public domain.” Continue Reading →

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Historic Yellowstone novel offers romantic view of park from bygone era

Visitors take in the view from atop the Old Faithful Inn in this undated Yellowstone National Park archival photo, likely from around 1910.

You don't have to go far in Yellowstone National Park to find a romantic spot that would be the perfect setting for an epic love story. From sweeping overlooks to hot springs and waterfalls to historic hotels and cabins, the park is full of beautiful places that would inspire passion in even the coldest heart. So it should come as no surprise that Yellowstone has been a popular place not only for marriage proposals and weddings, but also for many fictional romance tales, ranging from a contemporary series of popular stories to a florid yarn published more than a century ago. In fact, there have been at least three or four series of Yellowstone romance novels published over the years, along with many standalone stories. Continue Reading →

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Yellowstone history presentation in Cooke City on July 12

The Miner's Saloon is a popular watering hole in Cooke City, Mont., at the northeast border of Yellowstone National Park.

I love Montana’s many small museums and it looks like I’ll get to preview a brand new one next week in Cooke City, at the northeastern edge of Yellowstone National Park. I’ll be presenting my Humanities Montana Program, “Sidesaddles and Geysers,” on Saturday, July 12, at 7:30 p.m. at Joe’s Campfire next to the Cooke City Community Center. Joe’s Campfire is part of the new Cooke City Museum and honors a park ranger who used to lecture there on nature and history. I’m thrilled to be carrying on Joe’s legacy. Continue Reading →

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An optimistic prospector questions 1863 mining ‘laws’ in Yellowstone country

Walter Delacy (NPS image)

After gold was discovered near Bannack, Montana, in 1862, prospectors scoured every gully and creek searching for the next bonanza. In 1863, Walter Washington DeLacy led a 40-man expedition that explored the Snake River to its source. The party didn’t find enough “color” for a paying proposition, but they did bring back a wealth of information about the Yellowstone Plateau. DeLacy included that information in his famous 1865 map of the Montana territory. Continue Reading →

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Author wins national award for book about women in Yellowstone


Elizabeth Watry, author of "Women in Wonderland: Lives, Legacies and Legends of Yellowstone National Park," has been honored with an award for profiles of women who were influential in the park's early days. The WILLA award, named in honor of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Willa Cather, is sponsored by Women Writing the West. The award represents the best of published literature for women's or girls' stories set in the North American West. Continue Reading →

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Rediscovered manuscript describes 1869 Yellowstone expedition

David Folsom YDSF

Historians generally credit the Folsom-Cook-Peterson expedition as the first serious effort to explore and document the wonders of the upper Yellowstone. Trappers and prospectors had been telling stories for decades about fountains of boiling water, canyons a thousand feet deep, and mountains of glass. At first people discounted such reports as tall tales, but by the late 1860s, it became obvious that there really were wonders in the area. Continue Reading →

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A ‘Dark and Stormy Night’ in Yellowstone Park from 1874


Early Yellowstone National Park visitor the Earl of Dunraven shares a scary tale of a dark and stormy night in 1874, in which "the Demon of the Tempest was abroad in his anger, yelling down the valley, dashing out the water-floods with his hands, laying waste the forest, and filling with dread the hearts of man and beast and every living thing." Continue Reading →

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C-SPAN explores ‘Adventures in Yellowstone’ with Montana author

A screen capture shows Montana author M. Mark Miller speaking during a September interview in Bozeman that aired this month on the C-SPAN cable network.

Montana author M. Mark Miller was featured on C-SPAN over the weekend discussing his book, Adventures in Yellowstone, on the cable channel's Book TV. Miller, who regularly contributes historic tales of early travel in Yellowstone National Park to Yellowstone Gate, reports that he saw a bump in book sales after the show aired. Continue Reading →

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Program to highlight work of first official Grand Teton photographer

Harrison R. Crandall was the first official Grand Teton National Park photographer and served as a resident artist from the 1920s until the 1960s. Professor and author Kenneth A. Barrick will provide insight into Crandall’s art and tenure as park photographer during a public event on Thursday, Sept. 5 at 5 p.m. in the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center auditorium. Continue Reading →

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