Celebrating Yellowstone National Park's 150 Years

Mar 16, 2023 by Tempe Javitz
Celebrating Yellowstone National Park's 150 Years

My grandmother Jessamine never missed an opportunity 
to escape the house and take a ride.  That “ride” might
be herding cattle, rounding up horses, or driving to 
town for groceries and taking in a movie.  In September
of 1927 Jessamine drove her daughter Phyllis to 
Bozeman, Montana for college.  Why not leave a few days
early and take in Yellowstone National Park?  Indeed, 
why not.  

Yellowstone then was rarely visited.  In 1919, only 
62,261 visitors managed to see the lakes, canyons and 
geysers.  By 1927 according to the National Park’s 
statistics, Jessamine and Phyllis were two of the 
200,825 people traveling by car or train to the park.  
This was the first time Jessamine had seen “Wonderland.”  
Wait until you see what the park looked like then!

Their first stop was the northern entrance to the park, the 
portal near the town of Gallatin Gateway.  Phyllis is 
standing to the right side of this amazing arch.  A 
wonderful piece of history was captured.  Unfortunately, 
this enormous log structure, a testament to the local
logging industry, has not stood the test of time.

One of the first sights as you enter the park from the 
north is the Norris Geyser Basin.  In 1927 notice the lack
of boardwalks, handrails, or any other safety measures.  
There’s a sign out in the middle of this area where steam
is rising from natural springs, and there probably is a geyser
nearby.  This gives me the shivers.  Occasionally, even
today, people step beyond the boardwalk and fall into the 
hot springs.

Jessamine didn’t skip a beat, as they say.  She captured 
the folks wandering around taking in the sites.  Again
you might ask, “Where the heck are the boardwalks and
the guard rails?”  Oh well, it’s just 1927.

Heading south into the park you pass the magnificent
Gibbon Falls.  Beautiful then and gorgeous today.

They would see bears, elk, bison, and fish in the streams. 
Jessamine seemed to concentrate on the scenery.  Next up, 
Old Faithful, of course.  It was more faithful in those days
and erupted almost on the hour.  Nowadays it’s inconsistent 
due to the earthquake of 1959.  Prior to then it erupted 21 
times a day like clockwork, now about 20 times.  On the
evening of Feb 23, 2023 it was predicted to erupt at 6:15
p.m., give or take 10 minutes.  

The loop drive takes you east from Old Faithful around 
to Yellowstone Lake.  It’s difficult to take a good photo
of a lake in black and white.  We are so lucky today with
our fancy cameras that due a creditable job of revealing
the beautiful variations in the colorful water of a lake.  
Jessamine didn’t do so bad zooming in on the small hot
springs at lakeside, and the view across the water to the
mountains beyond.

A trip to Yellowstone would not be perfect without a view of
the Yellowstone River Canyon.  Spectacular in color, but still
amazing in black and white.  It’s just up the road driving north
from the lake.

At 109 feet tall, the Upper Falls is spectacular, especially if 
you climb down to the brink and watch the water cascade below 
your feet.  At 308 feet the lower falls is two times the height
of Niagara Falls.  It's  a wonder to see, especially from further
down the river where you can view the fabulous canyon 
walls with the falls in the distance.

I hope that you too can sometime visit this “wonderland” as it
is often called.  Just watch out for the wildlife!

Cowboy Jargon:

Yarn:  A tall tale, often an adventure story or a wild tale.
“A Montana newspaper editor missed an international
scoop by refusing to report the existence of the fabulous
Yellowstone region—he didn’t want to get caught printing
old Jim Bridger’s lies.”  This is a quote directly from
"Dictionary of the American West,” by Win Blevins.  
(My bible of the old west.)

Stuffing Dudes:  The time-honored practice of telling tall
tales to innocent visitors to the west.  Believe it or not, 
according to author Win Blevins “a tall tale is sometimes
referred to as corral dust, a windy, a stringer and in the
Pacific Northwest a NORTHWESTER.  To tell one is to
string a whizzer, stretch the blanket, and among loggers
build a high line.”  Sounds to me like someone who is
full of hot air.