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Fort Yellowstone, a century later.

Fort Yellowstone, a century later

Fort Yellowstone offers a glimpse of a past little known to visitors to the great national park. The 40 structures here-- today used for the park headquarters, housing, and a museum--first served as home to the U.S. Cavalry during a 30-year occupation. Now nominated for the National Register of Historic Places, the site makes an interesting stroll for visitors to the Mammoth Hot Springs area. (For more on how to get around the park in winter, see the January 1985 Sunset, pages 54 and 56.)

Established in 1872, Yellowstone National Park quickly found itself under siege on several fronts. Fires were set to make the park superintendent look bad. The Nez Perce Indians captured several tourists-- killing two in 1877. Poachers and even park personnel hunted protected animals --especially the rapidly vanishing bison --for trophies. Miners hacked up rock formations, and many of the park's natural wonders suffered from vandalism, graft, and greed.

By 1886, the U.S. Cavalry had to be called in to administer and protect Yellowstone. During its stay, roads and amenities were expanded, and sanity emerged in park management.

A century later: the cavalry is gone, but the fort still functions

Located near the Gardiner, Montana, entrance and adjacent to Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, the fort's buildings include one-story clapboard and two-story stone structures. The smaller wood buildings behind the stables were called "soapsuds row' because laundry done by enlisted men's wives for the troopers often decorated the clotheslines here. You'll also see a jail, a chapel, and the old blacksmith area, all still finding uses today.

The Albright Visitor Center devotes two floors to history exhibits; you can also pick up a free walking-tour guide to the fort. Winter hours are 8:30 to 5 daily; admission is free.

A two-volume history titled The Yellowstone Story, by Aubrey L. Haines (Yellowstone Library and Museum Association, 1977), documents the wild doings in this territory from the time the Lewis and Clark party first explored it in 1808 until the National Park Service took over park management in 1916. You can buy the book at the visitor center, or write to the association, Yellowstone National Park, Wyo. 82190. Volume One costs $5.95, Volume Two $7.95--both in paperback. Add $1.50 for postage and handling for one book, $2.50 for both.

Photo: Visitor center in 1909 Bachelor Officer Quarters forms part of Fort Yellowstone complex. Below, life-size photograph of a Blackfoot Indian stands amid elaborately beaded Indian bags in museum display

Photo: Photographs and text pay tribute to 1871 explorers of the Yellowstone area in the Ferdinand Hayden party
COPYRIGHT 1986 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Date:Feb 1, 1986
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