tv Conversation on Yellowstone National Park CSPAN September 1, 2019 6:22pm-6:41pm EDT
escape route for the germans in the south and west of france. the fighting qualities of the soldiers, sailors and airmen of the united nations defeated the enemy in southern france. their valor, stamina and devotion to duty were beyond great. >> you can learn more about the parachute regimental combat team at 517prct.org. you will find a regimental history, photographs, and a collection of soldier stories. you can watch this and all other american history tv programs online at c-span.org. labor day weekend on american history tv. --we take here's the reason program.
>> oldest, largest and one of our most beautiful vacation lands as yellowstone national park. there it is in northwestern wyoming. doesn't it touch your imagination a little? all the flowers and mountains are reserved for you. established in 1872 by the united states congress, yellowstone national park was the first national park encompassing land from three states. the park is an economic driver for towns that surround it. wele in bozeman montana, spoke with former park historian
about his career and the impact the parkas had on the region. us about your first yellowstone experience. >> my first yellowstone experience reaches way back. ite for so many americans, was a vacation. parents taught us, my brother yellowstone from norman oklahoma, our hometown and continued bringing us for many years. we were always interested in not just yellowstone but the whole american west. into that trap of never going east, no matter what mother wanted to do. mostly dad wanted to fish in yellowstone. so we fell in love with region
.arly, had relatives in montana very early experience. brother 1416 and my we vacation here and saw the employees. one of them invited us to a dance. we were too young for the dance, but we got in and saw all the fun they were having. with thed and got jobs concessioner in yellowstone. the jobs with the concessioner's didn't come until a little bit later. route to getew the into the national park service. theidn't have to do concession until later. we went right to the national park service.
did that for a couple of years. and decided the work is not what i want to be doing. and i went to the concessioner with an eye toward the parties. here i am 20 years old interested in the social life. i got hired as a bus to our guide. i thought it was the greatest job i'd ever had. if only there had been a winter season, which there was not. so i left the park for five years and did other things. i had a commercial broadcasting career for good number of years. was a teacher for a while. was a travel agent for a while. and got called back to
yellowstone one day with an old friend, who picked up the phone and offered me a job training his tour guides. with the bus operation. it was a great lucky break. and that sort of put me on the track to knowing that i wanted to learn things about it. and fortunately i had paid a lot of attention in history classes, because a lot of it centered around history. and so the first thing you know i was the trainer for tour bus
drivers. and by that time they had added a winter operation which was snow coaching. and i was in heaven. it was, wow, i get to train these guys to do the tours. so after that i learned that there was a position known as park historian. and i aimed at that. and it took 20 years to get there. eventually i did it. >> when did you begin writing about yellowstone? have any books have you written? >> 15 published and three coming books. when did i begin writing? pretty early, in the 1970's. and i just stumbled into this wonderful project which involved the history of the yellowstone place names. and i was amazed to see that no one had taken that project on. as i got into it, it became apparent why no one had taken that project on, because there were four thousands place names, 2000 active and 2000 obsolete.
and it was just overwhelming. i'm glad i did not know how many there were to begin with. so i worked on that, that book for 15 years. it was published in 1988. by the montana historical society. it was my first book. >> what are some of the topics you cover in your different writings? >> oh my gosh. topics i cover? one that people know about, probably the only one, is all of the people who got killed generally carelessly or negligently in yellowstone. it is a book called, "death in yellowstone". and it deals with a great number of cases of very sad deaths. including reaching way back into a few indian battles that occurred in the park. and then i had it divided into death by human causes and death by nature, natural causes.
and the natural causes really, i think are more interesting. a lot of national parks have hidden dangers. you know like the grand canyon you can fall into the big call. yellowstone has that too in its canyon. in a lot of parks you can drown. or take a fall over a precipice. it also has the strange deaths like being boiled in a hot spring, or being eaten by a grizzly bear or gord in bison. - gored by a bison. all of those have happened to people. >> yellowstone predates the park itself. can you talk about the
relationship between bozeman and the park. >> bozeman was an agricultural community. rather than so many of montana's communities which were mining. near it, to the west, was virginia city. so montana's history is bound up in mining. those miners who jumped across from idaho and earlier, california, in 1850's, jumped across into montana and those miners spread out looking for the gulch is as they called them. so they looked in yellowstone, but they did not really make a gold strike. that was fortunate for yellowstone. it probably saved the national park, the fact that there was not a gold strike.
or we would have had a gold strike there instead of a national park. so bozeman pretty early became an outfitting point for yellowstone, as did virginia city. and i think that is the key connection. is that those two towns, as early as 1880, were in a kind of competition. and virginia city quickly lost that battle of being an outfitting point. they were too far away. bozeman, only 75 miles away for the north entrance, one that battle - won that battle. yellowstone was already effectively the first attraction for tourists in the interior of the american west. that is pretty significant. that is a big deal. part of that impetus occurred because they were teaching the existence of yellowstone in
schools in europe. before, almost before they were doing it on the east coast in this country. by the time the railroad arrived at the north entrance in 1883, yellowstone was world-famous already. and everybody wanted to come and see it. everybody wanted to be on that train coming here. so all of a sudden, in 1883, there were 5000 visitors. where as before there had been 1000. in 1881 and 1882, about a thousand. and in the 1870's, about 500 per year. and those people had to come by
horseback, mule, because there were no roads yet. if you came in the 1870's, you came on the transcontinental railroad to utah or ogden, utah, somewhere down there where the mormons were just putting a few railroad things together to hook the transcontinental up with salt lake city. and then it was a 400 mile journey over lands by wagon and or horse and mule back. when you got to bozeman, you re-outfitted all on horse and mule back. so it took areas to get to yellowstone before your park to or even began. and it was more than a week in the 1870's because we're camping. and it was five and a quarter days around yellowstone. hot, dusty, and tiring at mile per hour. so you had time to smell the flowers.
you had time to really see things. you had time to ask lots of questions. have all your-hear all the stories, not only from stagecoach drivers, but from other park police. and then as now, everyone is into her guide. everyone was ready to tell you all about the marvelous things were going to see. beginning in the 1880's, yellowstone got a stagecoach company in the interior in the interior and the park company. there were already outfits to the west. in the park, they got one in 1883. they put up this big hotel we see behind us, that was built in
1883. people were in this country, tired of camping out. they had lived that way through the 18th and 19th centuries. and they wanted a little more comfort. now camping out would come back, in the 1920's, it would become voguish again. but yellowstone was a system of five big hotels serving visitors until the 1880's up until 1916. and we had autos in many of the cities and towns of the nation pretty early. the earliest autos were chain driven in 1886, the first when i can remember. and by 1900, so many towns had automobiles, primitive ones, alongside horses and wagons. and not in yellowstone. this remained a primitive place that the army took care of. for another 25 years after most towns had autos. so from the 1890's when autos
were in most places until 1916, yellowstone was a horse and buggy place. one question i often get which i cannot answer is what does the future hold for yellowstone? bozeman is all bound up in that great and so is livingston. so are all the surrounding, what we call the gateway towns. and the regional states. these include montana, wyoming, and idaho, all three. and they are all part of that scene of-in 2019, everyone wants to live here. we are suddenly on everybody's list, top 20 or at worst top 10, even worse, top five places to
live. it is understandable because yellowstone national park is the centerpiece. an international airport, university, plus the best hiking, hunting, fishing, world-class skiing, all of those things. that i started to say, money can buy, or that free can give you. it has really ramped up the cost of housing. so there's kind of a sadness i think to yellowstone's future. is it going to be a place just for rich people? what about this democracy that the national park service has pushed so long since it was established, and arguably so well.
for the american public. can they still afford to come here. how about visitation. it was a lot easier when i started in yellowstone and there were 2.2 visitors. now it is 4.2 million people just in yellowstone. what is the solution? nobody knows the answer. >> our look at bozeman continues as we visit with the extreme history project. she shares some of the overlooked history of the city. -- you can watch this and other programs on the history of communities across the country
at c-span.org. is american history tv only on c-span3. next on american history tv, senior archivist randy thompson delivers an illustrated talk showcasing resources available to the public at the national archives branch in california. items include records and artifacts dating back to 1775. friends of the library hosted this event. >> we are glad you are here with us today to learn about the national archives. an institution that is also known as our nations records keeper. our guests today are professional archivists. they have driven all the way out here to be with you