The Yellowstone Tourist: Evolution in the Pleasuring Ground
And this program has been funded in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's through a grant from the Pacific mountain network program fund with additional support from the state of Wyoming division of tourism and the Wyoming Council for the Humanities.
It's all being me said but I'm also struck visitor. Close by Morty will steam rising from volcanic cracks in the earth's surface. Gases but believing in the simplest life.
Form One major.
Why do these mountains and canyons and Melbourne valleys to these lakes and streams geyser.
This last result of wilderness scientists have come seeking answers. They come to study the unique North American species get a natural oiled environment from the mighty yellow.
Yet there is one creature roaming in Yellowstone that has not been tracked by scientists were put beneath the microscope. One species that is evolving rapidly reproducing prolifically boy.
Which has had an enormous impact on the Yellowstone ecosystem. Species question. When the Yellowstone Taurus.
My friend Jesse here he said let's go let's do it.
So we figured we'd come apparent stay for two days and see Old Faithful and old animal in 64 it was nice to know you could write any of the roads and there would be barriers on both sides of the road. And then the people would feed. Back. When they didn't feed and did the best. To happen you know. We can feed them they say don't do it don't do.
Well. So far as my pleasures were concerned when I was a kid. I was just enthralled with everything I mean I was from New York City coming out here and seeing all of this was just an unbelievable experience. And and I carry that with me when I left. And likewise I couldn't wait to share it with the partners I've had in my life.
Consider if you will know your distinctive flora and fauna of the Yellowstone ecosystem only the most hardy and adaptable species can survive in this harsh environment. The bison for instance as evolved a wide shade you had to use as a snowplow for uncovering winter for you. The grizzly bear developed long claws and uses them to grub for insects and roots.
Scientists tell us it takes EON's for species to evolve these features.
For the Yellowstone tourist though. Evolution is a much faster process. It began in the 19th century.
So. By the end of the 1860s the prospectors had heard stories on the barstools of Montana. About strange wonders up here at the head of the Yellowstone River and everybody knew that something big was up here. There were stories of of waterfalls hundreds of feet high in.
Water hot water spouting from the earth and you can read that in Montana territorial newspapers of that period and see. References to these strange sorts of tales. Everybody knew that something was up here and everybody wanted to be on on that initial expedition it was going to quote discover these wonders.
Why did you. Natures of the big rumors often easily came to the surface and wafted out from the wall to the years of civilized bad we're entirely disbelieved. What about it built on the very smallest Foundation and its wonders were covered with a mystery does not put boots over the sources of the disunity is the claim of tales. The game is abundant and every leak and river truck.
Yellowstone became a park in 1872. But unless you were a wealthy British aristocrat on a hunting expedition getting there was no picnic. George Carlin's party in 1877 had the misfortune of encountering the newest person do you ans 3 in the US military to Canada. Cohen who'd been complaining most of the trip finally had something to complain about. He was shot three times and left for dead. It was a holiday to be remembered.
I found a better.
And for a car placing it in an empty can that I found I found it in the fire and now began calculating my chances for being picked up.
I would not stars as I could as a last resort kill my dog. No one can imagine my thoughts during that time. I suppose that I was the only one of the party left.
White. Speculations upon her fate homo said. Yeah. It was horrible.
No bed of roses the life of the Oreo's travelers in this region the ones who like to rough it or had to sagebrush years well into the 20th century they came to the Yellowstone region ready to ward off Grizzlies hike for miles without maps and scramble up the peaks without guides or ropes. There was no budgeted and new agency to manage the park at first. Hunters had a field day. Henceforth the accommodations anyone who made the journey west to take the waters on the spot was quite spartan to say the least.
Actually concessions first started right here at Mammoth Hot Springs. The first hotel the McCartney hotel in they probably use the term very lightly to even call it a hotel it was a one room log cabin you had to bring your own blanket your own bed roll. Beyond that if you went out to wards Roosevelt which wasn't there at the time there was another hotel called the Pleasant Valley Hotel near a place called Dancy's hole. It was a little bit more they change your sheets once a season is what they said. You can get a room for $2 a night but you also there was no private rooms you slept with other people. Down at Old Faithful the first hotel in the Old Faithful or it was called The Shack hotel and I don't know if that term has any meaning to what was offered but from what I understand you can even hardly walk down the halls unless you turn sideways.
You rub your elbows on the on the bare wood some exciting times you know they talk about crime and in national parks today but even the stage coaches were held up when they were here in a park between Old Faithful and and going over Craig pass. And there was a time where a high woman held up several stage coaches because they had to spread the coaches out to avoid the dust and he just timed it perfectly and he hit every one of them that went by. One of the exciting things again for the type of people to visit in here they felt it was the best $50 they have a loss to the enjoyment of a visit in a park and being involved in that adventure.
What really kicked Yellowstone into gear you might say was the arrival of the Northern Pacific Railroad at the north near the north entrance in 1883. In that started what was to be called later. The best of all possible worlds a very idyllic sort of of life for visitors as they came to what was called Wonderland. At that time but the railroad got here in 1893 and they immediately saw that they would need. Wagons horses a way to transport people around the park and a place for people to stay. So they built some very big hotels. The Lake Hotel on the shore of Yellowstone Lake began in 1909. The fountain hotel opened in 1901. A big hotel at Old Faithful a big hotel and at Mammoth that was the early 130 and one at Norris. These visitors that then begin to come in 1883 experienced a very very delayed sort of.
Trip through Yellowstone but it lasted five and a half to 10 days. They were traveling slowly on on the stage coaches. They they had time to see things to smell the flowers to to really look at the small features Yellowstone hands things that people just zip right by today like Apollo in the spring when they'd stop and drink the mineral waters out of it. So Yellowstone really had about 40 years of stage coaching courses.
Before most parks even even got started. For most parks. I. Found that. It wasn't very crowded in those days as compared to today. We're talking 1870s only 500 visitors per year. Three railroads after that it went up fairly quickly but. But compared to what the 3 million we get visitors we had today it was it was almost nothing. Your average stagecoach carrying company would would take something like 2000 visitors through for the whole summer. Not very many people by our standards.
All of them. Joyfully gaily. Shouting at each other from the from from stage coaches as they passed singing on board the stage coaches It was a it was a gay old time. Before long to the. Headquarters in. The mists of.
Time Place the comfort. That. Which if. In the midst of. The hotel government roads.
Things in the book. Everything in it.
And while. The Wild are flying over the sky was sucked into the cauldron and cooked and ready for the table.
It is not the God deal self-sufficiency so much as the women young. I'm so used to writing on the bottom of nature fixes that insult indelibly.
After years of saying and so forth.
I've taken out there and scrawled in the face.
Geisha turned to. Put down their. Precious. Diaries and. Ostentatiously.
There were a few that can't.
They call them sage brush use we call them campers today. They were people who came in their own way I guess brought their own outfits. They were the lowest Ishall on of the Yellowstone hierarchy of visitors. There was a there was a distinct caste system actually at the course at the highest level with the railroad people who stayed in hotels. They travel by train they stayed in the in the big hotels and the next level were the the camping company people. They were people that stayed in similarly permanent tent camps. The wily way was one of those camping experiences where you'd have a tent on top of a wooden platform and it saved a big investment in you know hotel buildings. You just could take the tents off in the in the winter and put it back in the summer and people would stay in the semi-permanent tents and they travel in their own stagecoaches around the park and it was a little cheaper way to go to see Yellowstone. And then at the very lowest level of that hierarchy was the Sage-Brush or the camper who came in his own his own outfit.
It was the advent of another technological wonder that would change Yellowstone forever and truly democratize the park opening into people who didn't travel by Pullman cars.
The automobile didn't get into Yellowstone until very late compared to most of the rest of country.
A lot of America had had cars by 103 or so certain there were a few even in the in the mid 1890s but Yellowstone held out to the bitter end against those popping sputtering internal indeed infernal combustion engines. They finally let the automobile and in August of ever 1015 and there immediately were problems we had the first fatality and by automobile that that summer the horses were scared by the automobiles and the railroad hotel owners saw that as a big problem. So the following year the 1016 they had both automobiles and horses and that was total chaos.
They came in groups sent in buses and in caravans. Because the transportation was so primitive there was safety in numbers each one could help pull out the others and they skidded off the road or got stuck in the mud.
So it was more or group effort. Even by people who are unacquainted that we have now days when our so independent.
Or rather bark of a stop is made at points either not to hotels or foreign accounts travel may be resumed only at such times when it's a car to fall in with the regular subs please God let us talk a look at.
Barnaby's dots must be decided least 100 yards he wrote this applies not only to a definite stop back to those which may be due to breakdowns or accidents.
The only tour buses have their heyday in the 1920s and 30s a time when vacationers dance to the music of bandleaders like Jean-Paul absolute bludgeoned all peacefully and sometimes the effort to entertain ghosts got in the way of keeping the book Wild. It's generally a good time was had by all.
During World War Two fuel rationing shut down the yellow tour buses. And after that it was every car for itself. Post-war America hit the road and the Yellowstone region was not immune to the nation's love affair with the automobile.
And so the visitor came to Yellowstone a little different. He was not as interested in riding in buses. We reached the point where he and many Americans had their own vehicles had their own cars. And so it really was was right after World War 2 that era that that changed the visitor that that caused a visitor to to get into his own car and really want to see national parks from his own little little vehicle rather than in a big group.
We didn't mark the borders there are many ways to put it is that it expanded the area somewhat group or conducted bus tours.
Rely on more basic methods of transportation. There are over 300 miles of roadway in the park. But the greatest number of visitors rely on their own off the five surface roads lead into the park from every direction in the United States. Throughout the park motoring visitors are well cared for by conveniently located.
Modern service date the tradition of the horseless carriage in Yellowstone National Park date back to the year 1950 when the first Stanley Steamer made its victorious entrance and then proceeded to Juggins way around on the bottom of a shallow stream bed open getting stuck and having to be pried out for the fallen.
It was later trumped up to provide for the boiler in the photo made an accurate compass with an indispensable.
Thank you. Just in case you remember bad turned out to have a dead end with only a few setbacks.
The number of visitors has grown steadily over the last 30 years. People keep coming in ever greater numbers on certain places during certain seasons the crowds are overwhelming. It's vexing for visitors who seeks only two to nature and a headache for public land managers as well.
Letter To many people too many people for the most for a lot of people wonder you know just a handful of people maybe too many but I mean there's somewhere there's like there's a kind of a limit some space and what we're experiencing here is what appears what appears is an infinite number of visitors.
The way the entrances are from people from east to west and north and south there's no big metropolitan. Radio by.
One will be always the untold savant from our culture of our society if it ever if it gets that day should come it's going to be part of Yellowstone as more and more people come here in trailers Winnebagos cars and fewer and fewer of them actually hike or climb mountains very very few of them climb mountains. Of course the parks management funds and knowledge and expertise begins to switch to taking care of Winnebagos trailers cars and people who are going to either hike or claim mountains or even ride horseback. And so is the population of the place in the park's change of course management priorities change.
We've heard and I believe it's true that there has been a decline in back country use Grand Teton.
Looking at the visitation that comes at Park you know that probably less than 10 percent of the people ever get into the back country. And it is somewhat unfortunate almost 90 percent of the people the visitors park through the park from their automobile it's hard to get people out of the automobiles would like to be able to do more with in park tours. But you just can't get people to park from their car. The direction is to move into some of the gateway communities because that's the direction the Park Service. Some of the sillies if there is need for expansion or additional facilities they should go into gateway communities the motels and chomps are proliferating on some of the park entrances.
The millions of summer visitors and no fast growing winter season fertilised attractions like IMAX theater in the grisly discovery center in West Yellowstone.
What this facility does for people and with people is it does allow them to see a bear whether they're coming out of the park which many people do at this entrance or coming into the park. The families who have you know who were on say five national parks and three for tour are in a hurry and and the way we have this. Is if they can come in here. And come straight through the city the birds they don't have to stop at the gate or they don't. And when we do have something. That will stop a couple of players and then go have lunch or. Visit other parts of the town and come back and say a couple of hours later facilities like this are like skills and the opportunity to say what they've missed and maybe they're more comfortable saying that.
There are more comforts galore in Gateway towns like West Yellowstone Jackson Cody Gardner and Bosun and.
The Greater Yellowstone area is much more than just the park. It includes national forests Grand Teton National Park wildlife refuges and valuable pockets of private land.
This is where you'll find cage barriers.
Ski resorts and dens honeycombs of motel rooms. Fortunes are being made off the private property the fringes public lands. But the new pools all feel so fortunate.
We woke up one morning.
And realized the backhaul and outnumbered the farm tractors. And so that made the big difference in the feeling in the way the concept of the valley. It was slowly sliding away from member of the atmosphere into a development of second home tourist are at it and it is Excel array like I can't believe it.
There isn't any clear distinction between being a tourist. And. Living here. There's a great ation. People move in here and move out so quickly that it's very difficult to say at what point somebody is interested in what point somebody is a full time I was. Going to ten year period people who moved moved here. Four out of five of those people would be moved away. And these are even people who say we intend to live here for the rest of our lives.
But tourism is not new. What has changed is the story of travel and perhaps the needs and wants of the two of you.
Bill Faithfull in has been wired for telephones and I understand the doing of the lake in the. The company told us that at the time that they were wiring the because they're in the process of working they might as well just wire it for TV also.
There are vocal pockets of folks that that want that stuff.
Do I think it's going to be make it the is the same as everywhere else yes. Do I think it's going to hurt the experience. Yes. It's wonderful in my estimation to be able to go into the Lake Hotel lobby and soak up that beyond of the the beauty of the lake people having to talk to each other and listening to the string ensemble rather than being besieged by a CNN broadcast at the other end of the room. The rest of the world as it is one of the things arguably that we come here to to get away from is the rest of the world. That's one of the things that makes Yellowstone special in my estimation is that the place is different. We don't have much of this left. They're paving the whole earth. This is a very special experience.
In the future. More and more people will come to the parks more and more people will want solitude and silence. But those people will be essentially out of touch with what they really need and that increasingly will have an intensely managed environment for urban people who want to get away but never manage to get away.
Since Americans first began coming to the Yellowstone region over a century ago. People have speculated about the nature and needs of the tourist. Some say some are to use a television. Perhaps. Both are right. You know can tourist is a rapidly evolving and contradictory creature.
Yellowstone has assumed the burden of modern society for the natural. With its beauty its dangerous its whiteness.
Set against the technology of urban lifestyles and the pressures of the marketplace.
While a store is a preserve for wildlife and a pleasuring ground for humans like the bison the Grizzly the grounds world the tourist must find a place in the natural order.
It was stolen as a pilgrimage site for many Americans.
One of the last remaining sanctuaries where nature's rules have not been bent too far by man were trying to lose Johnny Yellowstone up a century.
We must find a way for the future way.
This transcript is machine-generated and has not been corrected. It is likely there will be errors.
- Producing Organization
- Wyoming PBS
- Contributing Organization
- Wyoming PBS (Riverton, Wyoming)
- AAPB ID
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- The Yellowstone Tourist is a documentary about tourism in Yellowstone Park, and how the industry has had an impact on the territory. Visitors are interviewed about their experiences; this is contrasted with the history of the earliest travelers in the region and the natural dangers they faced.
- Asset type
- 1995, Plurabelle Productions, a Wyoming limited liability corporation
- Media type
- Moving Image
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Associate Producer: Fiordalisi, Bruce
Composer: Dirks, Jewel
Director: O'Gara, Geoff
Director: Fiordalisi, Bruce
Narrator: Cobes, Jon
Producer: O'Gara, Geoff
Producing Organization: Wyoming PBS
Writer: O'Gara, Geoff
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
Wyoming PBS (KCWC)
Identifier: 3-0697 (WYO PBS)
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- Chicago: “The Yellowstone Tourist: Evolution in the Pleasuring Ground,” 1995-04-19, Wyoming PBS, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed April 21, 2019, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_260-82x3fqhp.
- MLA: “The Yellowstone Tourist: Evolution in the Pleasuring Ground.” 1995-04-19. Wyoming PBS, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. April 21, 2019. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_260-82x3fqhp>.
- APA: The Yellowstone Tourist: Evolution in the Pleasuring Ground. Boston, MA: Wyoming PBS, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_260-82x3fqhp