yellowstone history

Recent Posts

Happy Birthday to Yellowstone Park

oldyellowstonemap

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 →

Filed under: , , ,

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 →

Filed under: , , , , ,

Author wins national award for book about women in Yellowstone

women-wonderland

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 →

Filed under: , , , , ,

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 →

Filed under: , , ,

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

elk-skulls-loughry-c1889-pmb

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 →

Filed under: , , , , ,

An October blizzard complicates an 1880 visit to Yellowstone’s Upper Falls

Carrie Strahorn was an adventurous woman who insisted on traveling with her husband Robert (she called him "Pard") as he traveled the country searching for destinations for the Union Pacific Railroad. Carrie wrote newspaper columns about her adventures and eventually collected them in a book, Fifteen Thousand Miles by Stage. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , ,

The first written description of Yellowstone geysers in 1827

A postcard of Cliff Spring from 1928 based on a photo by Asahel Curtis. (NPS image)

By the early 1800s, trappers were scouring the Rocky Mountains for beaver. Evidence of their travel is sketchy, but we know that trapper brigades reached the Yellowstone plateau by 1826. An anonymous account of a trapper’s adventures in what is now Yellowstone National Park was published in The Philadelphia Gazette and Advertiser. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , ,

Diverse range of historic vehicles have traveled roads of Yellowstone Park

Park County Travel Council Marketing Director Claudia Wade, right, chats with visitors to the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyo. about a refurbished 1936 tour bus that is used for commercial tours in Yellowstone National Park. (Yellowstone Gate file photo/Ruffin Prevost)

How visitors have traveled in Yellowstone and other national parks has tended to reflect the culture and technology of the times. The National Park Service's collection of historic vehicles in Gardiner, Mont. includes 30 vehicles, ranging from stagecoaches to buses to trucks and even a fire engine. The collection, believed to be one of the largest of any National Park Service Unit, is not available for viewing by the general public, although the Park Service plans to someday exhibit the collection if funding becomes available. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , ,

An 1880s tale of catching and cooking a fish on same line in Yellowstone

Fishing Cone in Yellowstone National Park.

Many Yellowstone Park tourists have described places where an angler can catch a fish and cook it in a nearby hot spring without taking it off the hook, but few report actually doing it. Henry J. Winser described performing the feat in his 1883 guide for tourists. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,