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March 31st, the birthday of a Welsh painter of Yellowstone scenes

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My iPhone shot shows a page from the August 11, 1888 Graphic. You see three scenes engraved from photographs: Livingston, Montana; Pulpit Terrace at Mammoth; and the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel. One engraving is from a pencil sketch and two from watercolors: Bath Spring, Orange Spring Mound, and the interior of Devil’s Kitchen.

Today is the one-hundred-seventy-eighth birthday of Thomas Henry Thomas, the author and artist featured at the center of my 19th century collection, Through Early Yellowstone: Adventuring by Bicycle, Covered Wagon, Foot, Horseback, and Skis.

In 1884, you could travel around the new national park either by horseback or by horse-drawn coach. Thomas chose to ride. He wrote to a friend in his native Wales that he painted “quite half, if not more” of his watercolor sketches from “the logger-head of the Mexican saddle of my Cayuse.” In Through Early Yellowstone you can see 26 of his watercolors and one pencil sketch, none of which have ever been seen outside of Wales.

Born in 1839 in Pontypool, Wales, Thomas studied art at the British Royal Academy and also in France and Italy. His online biography does not tell us where he learned to write with his special combination of erudition, grace, and humor.

He spent most of his life in Cardiff, Wales, where he pursued many interests besides art, including archaeology, geology, and Welsh folklore. He served as artist to the London Graphic, a large-format publication with 16- by 12-inch pages. It took four years for the Graphic to turn some of Thomas’s Yellowstone watercolors and collected photographs into engravings. The first page of one of his two articles for the magazine is shown above.

Before Thomas died in his mid seventies in 1915, he bequeathed more than one thousand prints, drawings, and watercolors to the National Museum of Wales (Amgueddfa Cymru in Welsh), of which he was a founding father.

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Through Early Yellowstone becomes a Foreword INDIES finalist

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Through Early Yellowstone book 2016 finalist
We’re celebrating at Granite Peak Publications since we learned that our historical anthology, published in 2016, has a good chance of winning top recognition for that year! Through Early Yellowstone: Adventuring by Bicycle, Covered Wagon, Foot, Horseback, and Skis is a finalist in two categories in this year’s contest run by Foreword Reviews, the foremost organization in helping promote outstanding independent press publications. The categories we entered are: Adventure & Recreation and Travel.

During the 21st century I have loved researching in libraries on both coasts and in Montana and Wyoming to locate the best early Yellowstone writings that need to be preserved in a modern book. By 2003 I had divided my findings into 11 categories, including early expeditions, the public entering the new park, early visits by various means, wildlife, poetry and songs, and other subjects. Wow! Even a sampling of the 85 articles I’d read and enjoyed by 2003 was way too much to fit into one collection.

Still, I kept reading. By 2007 I had read a great deal more but managed to pare my findings and categories down to a manageable number of articles and thought it was time to start seeking a publisher. Compiling what I was then calling Magnificent Playground required using my subjective judgment to reproduce the best written and most entertaining of these. In my letter to one university press, I acknowledged my awareness of two other Yellowstone historical anthologies, Old Yellowstone Days, edited by Paul Schullery, and Ho! for Wonderland, edited by park historian Lee Whittlesey and Betsy Watry. I intended to complement these two predecessor collections, not to compete with them. I wanted to avoid repeating descriptions of the many wonders of the park as much as possible, while giving readers a fascinating taste of early, long-out-of-print visitors’ accounts written by entertaining and talented writers and intrepid adventurers.

My editor/publisher/daughter Beth and I decided to publish the book with Granite Peak Publications, which up to that time had concentrated on putting out Yellowstone Treasures. Beth was particularly good at eliminating authors I had become enamored of but who did not fit well into the collection for our readers. I decided that we needed to include the short writings that I call snippets to show how the idea of an area that begged for preservation as the first national park gradually became a prime destination for travelers from all over the world.

The completion of the Northern Pacific Railroad (NPRR) across Montana in 1883 made access to the park much more convenient than before. A majority of the accounts in Through Early Yellowstone were written by people who used the NPRR and then traveled by horseback or horse-driven coach. Automobiles entered the park for the first time late in the 1915 season, and by 1917 they had taken over completely. It seemed to me the logical point for this anthology to end.

I am proudest of having found and been able to reproduce twenty-seven watercolor sketches, which (as the artist wrote to a friend) “are almost untouched travel sketches, quite half, if not more, of the Park ones being taken on the logger-head of the Mexican saddle of my Cayuse [Indian pony].” The artist, Thomas H. Thomas, visited from Wales in 1884. He wrote a delightful two-part article for a London magazine called The Graphic that turned many of his watercolors into engravings. In my book we reproduce many of the engravings along with his articles and roughly half-size reproductions of his watercolors. These reside in the archives of the National Museum of Wales and have never before been seen in this country.

—Janet

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The 145th anniversary of Yellowstone Park

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Yellowstone National Park was set aside as the world’s first national park 145 years ago, on March 1, 1872. An act of Congress on that date made sure that settlement and sale of the land was prevented, and set it apart “as a public park or pleasuring-ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.” We placed the text of this important document on page 50 of the Through Early Yellowstone anthology, along with stories by explorers, adventurers, and tourists. Let’s appreciate what our nineteenth-century lawmakers did for us!

1872 Yellowstone act excerpt

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Another way to share: Tumblr

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In an effort to reach more people and explore the world, Granite Peak Publications is now on Tumblr in addition to Facebook and Twitter. Here’s our first post, sharing another picture from the historical anthology, Through Early Yellowstone (2016), which you can buy from this site or from an on-line or brick-and-mortar bookseller.
—Beth, Editor and Publisher

https://editorbeth.tumblr.com/post/157535481520/mammoth-hot-springs-focusin-on-cleopatra-springs

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Search the book for your name or interest

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Dear readers,
Did you know that Through Early Yellowstone describes a wide variety of people and places? You can now use the Look Inside feature on Amazon.com’s Through Early Yellowstone page to find just what all it covers. Among all the surnames of the writers collected in the anthology or people otherwise mentioned in the book may be your name or the name of someone you know or admire. Names you could look up include ones for just about every letter of the alphabet.

  • Allen
  • Baker
  • Corthell
  • Doane
  • Evermann
  • Folsom
  • Greene
  • Henderson
  • Ingersoll
  • Jordan
  • Kelly
  • Langford
  • Morris
  • Norris
  • Owen
  • Pomeroy
  • Queen’s Laundry (a hot spring, admittedly, but there’s a great watercolor sketch of it in the book!)
  • Roosevelt
  • Saunders
  • Thomas
  • Upper Falls (another geographical name . . . we share a picture from the book below)
  • Victor
  • Wilcox
  • X . . . (OK, now we’re stumped)
  • Yancey
  • Zip (nada for Z)
upper falls Yellowstone 1895

Upper Falls of the Yellowstone River


Image credit: Janet Chapple, Through Early Yellowstone: Adventuring by Bicycle, Covered Wagon, Foot, Horseback and Skis (Lake Forest Park, WA: Granite Peak Publications, 2016), 182. Originally published in Barton Warren Evermann, “Two-Ocean Pass” The Popular Science Monthly, 47 (June 1895): 175-87.

—Editor Beth

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An author tour for Through Early Yellowstone

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Janet Chapple lecture BBCW

The author/editor at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Cody, Wyoming

This fall Janet has been taking the new historical anthology on the road, explaining her research and discovery of the stories and artwork in Through Early Yellowstone: Adventuring by Bicycle, Covered Wagon, Foot, Horseback, and Skis. On September 9, 2016, she was invited to present a slideshow at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming. Her title, “A Love Affair with Yellowstone National Park,” allowed her to tell the story of her early childhood in the park, her repeated visits, and her research and writing about Yellowstone over the years.

Tidbits of her biography are told elsewhere, such as on the About Us page and in an article called “Celebrating an Old Faithful Area Seventieth Anniversary,” published in August 2009 in The Geyser Gazer Sput (see “Janet Celebrates Her 75th Anniversary in the Park” for some fun stories). But in this lecture she also explained a lot about her research that led to the anthology and the beautiful centerpiece of watercolors.

In her own words:

I spent about a decade reading everything I could get my hands on in libraries on both coasts and at the University of Wyoming library and the Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center Library on the northern border of the park. I found that tens of thousands of documents have been preserved. Writers about the Yellowstone area and then the new national park included explorers and adventurers, government expedition members, geologists, artists, park employees, army and administrative personnel, tourists, journalists, and lecturers, all of them thrilled with the wonders they had found.

Buffalo Bill Center of the West poster

The Center of the West lobby with lecture poster

After reading about 250 of these, she, with my help, finally settled on eleven major accounts, many of them illustrated with engravings. These were mostly magazine articles published during 1871-1916, with a few chapters from books. You’ll find the table of contents here, if you are curious and don’t own the book yet.

Back to the story. Here she describes her big find, the watercolors from 1884.

While researching in the Yellowstone Heritage Library, I came across correspondence between Park Historian Lee Whittlesey and a geologist named Alan Channing from Cardiff University, Wales. Channing had done some research in Yellowstone and had become fascinated with the park. Knowing that Thomas H. Thomas, one of my favorite early Yellowstone authors, came from Cardiff, and wondering about the source of the engravings of his Yellowstone scenes, I got in touch with Dr. Channing. He told me that Thomas’s original sketchbook and notebooks were held in the archives of the National Museum of Wales. Then, in 2008 I got to travel to Wales and see the Thomas watercolor sketches in the archives of their museum.

Janet gave substantially the same talk this week at the Bill Lane Center for the West at Stanford University in California. There she regaled the audience with tales while they munched on a lunch that Stanford provided. She has not booked her next event yet, but you are welcome to contact her to suggest one!

–Editor and Publisher, Beth Chapple

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Montana Book Festival news

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Beth at Montana book fair booth On September 24, National Public Lands Day, I hope you had the chance to get out and enjoy one of our beautiful U.S. national parks or monuments. I spent all that Saturday at the book fair of the 2016 Montana Book Festival in the heart of Missoula. Thanks to festival director Rachel Mindell and her band of hard-working volunteers, people had the chance to hear author talks and peruse new books with Montana-based authors or themes. While the book fair was free and open to the public, many participants bought a festival button so they could attend the various events. Some people stopped by the table to reminisce about Yellowstone Park, take a free Yellowstone Treasures postcard or Through Early Yellowstone bookmark, or buy a book. I’ll be taking the show on the road again for Wordstock in Portland, Oregon on November 5th–maybe I’ll see you there!

Fortunately I was able to combine a fun and research-filled road trip to Yellowstone with this book festival. I drove from Seattle with my son on September 18th, spent a mere four days in the park, and we drove back via Missoula. Author Janet and I will be sharing some stories and pictures from our trips over the next few weeks, as well as adding videos to our YouTube channel. Today I added a video called “Fan Creek 360 degree view.”

–Editor and Publisher, Beth Chapple

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Wolves and Grizzlies and Good Reading

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wolf

Gray wolf, Yellowstone Treasures page 351, photo courtesy National Park Service, Yellowstone National Park

Wolves have been feared and hated by humans for centuries. “It’s like the abortion issue of wildlife,” according to a recent Oliver Milman article in The Guardian’s U.S. edition. In his thoughtful article, Milman traces gray wolves from their rebound in Great Lakes states in the 1960s and their reintroduction to Yellowstone in the mid 1990s. He quotes wolf restoration project leader Doug Smith: “Fifty years ago, everyone hated wolves. Now, half the population hates wolves. We are progressing . . .”

I confess to having missed Endangered Species Day, which was May 20th this year. But I see that the Endangered Species Coalition has an extensive reading list for young and adult readers, including wolf books for children. For adults, it includes a favorite of mine, The Song of the Dodo, by David Quammen, the renowned author who just wrote the text for National Geographic’s May issue on Yellowstone. Then there’s a book I would like to read, The Future of Life, by one of our wisest scientists, Edward O. Wilson.

* * * * *

grizzly bear and cub

Grizzly bear sow and yearling on boardwalk at Daisy Geyser, NPS Flickr photo

The fate of the grizzly bear population in the Greater Yellowstone Area is a serious matter on the verge of being decided by the courts. People who live, work, hunt, or frequently visit the area are closely following the controversy over listing / delisting the great bears.

An excellent article appears in the May 16th issue of the magazine High Country News. Carefully researched and written by environmental journalist Gloria Dickie, her article puts the whole problem of managing grizzlies in perspective. Grizzlies can live about twenty-five years in the wild. There are now 717 in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem by a recent estimate and 960 in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (in and around Glacier National Park).

Environmentalists would like to find a way to bridge these two populations for their genetic health. Meanwhile, others with strong opinions about whether or not the bears should be delisted include hunters, outfitters, photo safari guides, and Native American Indian tribal leaders.

Chris Servheen, U.S. Fish and Wildlife grizzly bear recovery coordinator, believes the recovery level of grizzly bears reached as of now more than fulfills the goals of the Endangered Species Act. The bears’ recovery is “the greatest success story of all,” he says.

The controversy continues, but for comic relief here is a bit of (definitely not politically correct) historic humor that appears in my new collection, Through Early Yellowstone. This took place in the first decade of the twentieth century.

How Buffalo Jones Disciplined a Bad Grizzly
by William T. Hornaday
in The Minds and Manners of Wild Animals, 1922

The most ridiculous and laughable performance ever put up with a wild grizzly bear as an actor was staged by Col. C. J. (“Buffalo”) Jones, when he was superintendent of the wild animals of the Yellowstone Park. He marked down for punishment a particularly troublesome grizzly that had often raided tourists’ camps at a certain spot, to steal food. Very skillfully he roped that grizzly around one of his hind legs, suspended him from the limb of a tree, and while the disgraced and outraged silver-tip swung to and fro, bawling, cursing, snapping, snorting, and wildly clawing at the air, Buffalo Jones whaled it with a beanpole until he was tired. With commendable forethought Mr. Jones had for that occasion provided a moving-picture camera, and this film always produces roars of laughter.

Now, here is where we guessed wrongly. We supposed that whenever and wherever a well-beaten grizzly was turned loose, the angry animal would attack the lynching party. But not so. When Mr. Jones’ chastened grizzly was turned loose, it thought not of reprisals. It wildly fled to the tall timber, plunged into it, and there turned over a new leaf.

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A testimonial for Through Early Yellowstone

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Here’s a delightful message sent to us this week by Lois Atwood of Providence, Rhode Island:

Thank you for sending me the book [Through Early Yellowstone], which I truly love.

I wish this had been available when I first entered Yellowstone, as viewing the park’s wonders through the eyes of early travelers highlights their extraordinary nature and variety, and the difficulties early travelers faced. I enjoyed the many details of a developing tourist trade—tent hotels, trails and roads that suddenly stopped, rare interactions with wild animals, the mother who set out for a park summer with her lively children and left her money at home—the list goes on and on. I frequently turned anew to the thirty or so paintings, never before reproduced. The book is filled with treasures, insights, humor, pictures, and descriptions of our first and still most unusual and startling national park.

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Yellowstone News Unseen and Seen

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Exciting for Granite Peak Publications and me is to know that our shipment of several pallets of spanking new copies of Through Early Yellowstone arrives today at the Port of Seattle from China! That’s the unseen news.

The fun-to-see news appeared this morning in the Yellowstone Foundation newsletter. It’s the announcement of the winners in their Yellowstone Forever Photo Contest.View a slide show of the 100 top entries.Their 2016 contest will open in June.

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