GRANITE PEAK PUBLICATIONS: Accompanying travelers to the national park since 2002

We celebrate Philetus Norris today

park superintendent Norris

Superintendent Norris, as reproduced in Yellowstone Treasures

August 17, 2016, is the 195th birthday of Philetus W. Norris, who was the eccentric but effective second superintendent of Yellowstone National Park (1877-82). He was a prolific writer; his writings include poetry about the West, a road guide to the park, and excellent superintendent’s reports that are invaluable to historians. Several park features carry his name, including Mount Norris due east of Soda Butte, Norris Geyser Basin, and Norris Pass.

Here is the first half of his 1880 poem “Rustic Bridge and Crystal Falls.”

Will these feet that trip so lightly
O’er this structure rude but strong,
Or these eyes which beam so brightly,
E’er greet scenes more meet for song?

Skipping rill from snowy fountains
Dashing through embowered walls,
Fairy dell ’mid frowning mountains,
Grotto pool and Crystal Falls.

Charming dell, begirt with wonders,
Mighty falls on either hand,
Quiet glen amid their thunders,
Matchless, save in Wonder-Land.

* * * * *

The biographical information was excerpted and slightly modified from Yellowstone Treasures, updated fourth edition, page 205. You can read the whole poem on page 23 of Through Early Yellowstone.

Photo credit: Record Group 79, National Archives and Records Administration, Yellowstone National Park

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