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

An American horsewoman in 1916

Alice Morris Yellowstone Trails map

Lower third of the “Yellowstone National Park Trails Map,” prepared by Alice Parmelee Morris in 1917, one of five wonderful maps reproduced in Through Early Yellowstone

To celebrate Women’s History Month, here’s an excerpt about a remarkable woman, Alice Parmelee Morris. This story was originally published in the New York Times in 1918, two years after she made the trip.

Yellowstone Trails Blazed by New York Woman

Mrs. Robert C. Morris Has Laid Out Complete System of New Paths for the Government, Opening the Park’s Wild Beauty to Horseback Riders

It is almost two years since, in the words of official statement, “the Yellowstone National Park was opened to automobiles,” and the fear has been general that the coming of the motor cars and the passing of the ancient stage coaches would rob that wild and magnificent mountain land of much of its charm, and, indeed, of its enjoyment. But the fear that “the Yellowstone would be spoiled,” that opportunities for pack trains and horseback riding would be less, turns out to be just the opposite. They will be more.

The National Park Service of the Department of the Interior has recently accepted a complete mapping of projected trails through the vast extent of the Yellowstone National Park. Work is to begin on the actual cutting of the trails as soon as possible. Back of its neat lines and dots and tracings lies a great amount of rugged, courageous, brilliant work. It is the sort of work which any one would think must be done by a forester or a professional mountaineer or surveyor.

But it was not. It was done by Mrs. Robert C. Morris, a New York woman who has a ranch on the borders of the park and spends her Summers in the Yellowstone because she loves it and who gave the whole of last Summer, and rode fifteen hundred miles on horseback, to plan the Yellowstone trails.

. . .

What Mrs. Morris has done is to map out an elaborate system of trails through the park which will make it possible for visitors to ride through the most beautiful and picturesque portions of the great “reservation,” journeying in an unhurried and enjoyable fashion, seeing much that cannot be seen from the motor roads alone, and never once traveling on the motor highways. What is more, the trails are arranged so that trips can be made in a day, a week, a month, or more. . . .

Mrs. Robert C. Morris, born Alice Parmelee in New Haven, Connecticut, about 1865, was descended from a Revolutionary War soldier in the Connecticut militia. In 1890 she married Robert Clark Morris, a New York City lawyer interested in international law, and in 1897 she published Dragons and Cherry Blossoms about her trip to Japan. Mrs. Morris was an avid horsewoman who became enamored with the scenery of Yellowstone Park and spent many summers at the Silver Tip Ranch just north of the park. In 1917 she conceived, financed, and carried out her remarkable plan to explore and map an interconnected loop of trails throughout the park and environs.


Excerpted from pages 231, 233-34, and 235 of Through Early Yellowstone: Adventuring by Bicycle, Covered Wagon, Foot, Horseback, and Skis.

 
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