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James Klindt Writes an Interesting Account of a Trip to Wyoming’s Wonderland

 By James Klindt

 From the Sheridan Post, 22 August 1905 


To the Sheridan Post:

As I promised to give you and your readers a sketch of my trip to the Yellowstone National Park I will endeavor to give you a faint idea of what it takes, the way to go, and what you will see. I say a faint idea, as that is all that can be done. I am not able to present an adequate word picture of what there is to see. The best way is to go and see it for yourself. No artist can picture anything that can compare with the real sights.

We left Sheridan on the morning of August 3d, arriving at Livingston, Mont., for dinner. From there, a branch railroad runs to Gardner, a distance of 54 miles. This branch runs through a canyon or narrow valley called Paradise valley. The name is quite appropriate, as it certainly is a beautiful valley. On the east side is a very picturesque mountain range, constantly changing as the train moves along. Here you can see Emigrant peak, elevation 10,629 feet, and 6,000 feet above the valley. Forty miles from Livingston the park branch passes through the Yankee Jim canyon of the Yellowstone. For several years prior to the building of the railroad Mr. James George, an early prospector, having constructed a wagon road through the canyon, enjoyed a lucrative business collecting toll from each visitor. Cinnabar mountain, a conspicuous landmark on upper Yellowstone, is about three miles from the park. As the train passes along its base one has a glimpse of the “Devil’s Slide,” composed of reddish stone and extending up the mountain 2,000 feet. Electric peak, elevation 11,125 feet, the highest in this vicinity, is directly on the north boundary of the park reserve. Gardner, Mont., the terminus of the Park Branch railroad, is right at the park entrance. A stone arch was built and dedicated by President Roosevelt April 24, 1903, adding much to the appearance of the entrance.

I will say for the benefit of those who contemplate a visit to the park, that there are several concerns which make a business of conveying tourists through the park. Some charge a reasonable price, others charge all they can and give as little as possible in return. We were very fortunate in getting one of the best. There were fifteen in our party. You need have no fear of getting acquainted in the Yellowstone park. You know everybody and everybody knows you.

We left Gardner on the morning of August 4th, driving out to camp a distance of twelve miles a little after dinner. Before arriving there, however, we viewed the Mammoth hot springs and Jupiter terrace. The latter, the largest of a group, extends some 2,000 feet along the edge of the mountains, a brilliantly colored deposit. A climb of 100 feet up quite a steep trail is necessary to reach the summit, where two large springs of boiling water, fully a hundred feet in diameter, are located. “Devil’s Kitchen” is a crater of an extinct hot spring. This is entered by going through a hole just large enough to admit a person. Going down a ladder about forty feet, the peculiar damp and heated atmosphere of the interior produces a queer sensation and a desire to seek fresh air at once comes over the visitor.

After viewing these and numerous other wonders we passed on up the mountains through Silver and Golden gates. These are high walls of rock just wide enough to admit a wagon. Arriving at camp about 2 o’clock we had dinner, putting in the balance of the day fishing for trout. Our success was not great, however, but we caught enough for supper.

Just to the west of camp we could see Gallatin mountains, among which are Bell peak, Quadrant mountain and Mount Holmes, the last named having an elevation of 10,578 feet. Vast fields of perpetual snow are in sight. Pulling camp about 8 o’clock the next morning and driving a short distance, we came to Appollinaris spring. Here we all took a drink, a very small one, however, as a little went a long way. We arrived at Norris’ basin about 11 o’clock. Here you see some grand sights. It covers an area of six square miles and is one of the most interesting portions of the park from a geological standpoint from the fact of its being one of the highest Geyser basins in the park, and many of its active geysers being of quite recent origin. The first impression one gets is that he is entering a manufacturing locality.

The terrible rumbling noise, the hissing of escaping steam and very unpleasant odors are a novel sensation. Here you will find numerous geysers named as follows: Congress, Constant, Black Growler, Monarch, New Crater and Emerald Pool. The Black Growler is nothing but escaping steam coming out of the earth with a terrific force and regular as a steam engine, the steam going 150 feet in the air. Constant or Minute Man has an eruption every sixty seconds. The pool is twenty feet in diameter. Jets of water are thrown forty feet in the air.

From here we pass on through Gibbon canyon, the only easy way of exit from Norris’ basin. Along this canyon are to be seen precipitous cliffs 2,000 feet high and Gibbon falls, the water falling over eighty feet. A little further on the Gibbon and Five Hole [Firehole] river unite in forming the Madison river, one of the three principal sources of the Missouri river. We next come to Lower Geyser basin. In this basin and valley are located 693 hot springs, exclusive of seventeen geysers. In this basin the Fountain geyser is the largest. The formation or deposit from its waters covers several acres. The crater is thirty feet in diameter, the eruptions occur at intervals of from two to four hours and continue with great force for ten to fifteen minntes [sic], going to a height of sixty feet. From Lower Geyser basin we come to Midway geyser or Hell’s Half Acre. In this basin the principal attraction are Excelsior geyser, an enormous pit of rather irregular outline, 330 x 200 feet. The water is of a deep blue tint and intensely agitated all the time. Here also are Turquoise lake, Prismatic lake and numerous hot springs.

Going on we come to Upper Geyser basin. In this basin you will find the biggest attraction in the line of geysers, such as the Riverside, spouting to a height of 100 feet, Bee Hive, 200 feet; Giantess, 150 feet; Surprise, 100 feet; Grand, 200 feet; Grant, 250 feet; Splendid, 200 feet; Cliff, 100 feet, and others from 35 to 80 feet. The pet of them all is Old Faithful. Its eruption begins with a few spasmodic spurts, during which considerable water is thrown out. This is followed in from five to eight minutes by columns of hot water two feet in diameter, going up to a height of 150 feet. The remarkable thing about Old Faithful is that it performs regularly every seventy minutes.

The fourth day of our tour in the park was consumed in traveling from Upper Geyser basin to Yellowstone lake. The route is over the summit of the continental divide. Near Shoshone lake are the head waters of Lewis’ fork and Snake river, branches of the Columbia river, which flows into the Pacific ocean. Across the divide is the Atlantic slope. Here is the Yellowstone lake, whose waters reach the Atlantic ocean through Yellowstone, Missouri and Mississippi rivers. The Yellowstone lake is a beautiful, clear body of water and covers about 150 square miles. This is the largest body of water in North America at an altitude of 7788 feet. To the south of the lake are the Tetons, the highest peak of the Rockies, elevation 13,655 feet. We now follow the Yellowstone river.

On our homeward tour, in passing down the valley or canyon we take a view of Mud geyser. This is the most horrible geyser of them all. You look down about twenty feet, the hole being about fifteen feet across. At the bottom you see boiling mud, sputtering and bubbling like mush in a kettle. From one side issues with terrific force a stream of mud two feet across, dropping into the hole. We next come to Sulphur mountain, which is full of holes, and pure sulphur boiling out everywhere.

Last but not least is the Yellowstone canyon. Here we camped a day and a half. The sights in this canyon are beyond description. Here are two falls of the Yellowstone river, the upper falling 140 feet, the lower 360 feet. To get a good view of the lower falls you have to go down what is called Uncle Tom’s trail, consisting of a series of ladders, and holes cut into the rock for footholds. There are rails and ropes to hold to, a distance of 1,200 feet to the bottom, but the grand sight of the falls well repays you for your trouble. Inspiration Point is the best from which to view the immense canyon. This point is 1,500 feet above the river. Looking down stream the view of the canyon is exceptionally fine, though the brilliant coloring of its walls is not so noticeable as above the point. From this locality may be seen a large boulder of granite said to have been stranded during the glacial epoch. This ended our tour, as far as sight-seeing is concerned.

This description would not be complete without mentioning the animals of which the park is full. We saw numerous deer, antelope, bear, buffalo, elk, mountain lion, etc. Our most exciting experience was with bears. They would visit us every night and persist in trying to get in our grub box and climb into our mess wagon. We had to scare them off with clubs, lanterns and tin cans. They would stand and eat within a few feet of a crowd.

Space will not permit me to write more. It would take a large book to describe this great and free-for-all Wonderland of America.

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