Yellowstone National Park is the world’s oldest national park. Excellent books have been written about the history of the area, most notably The Yellowstone Story, by Aubrey L. Haines.
Some tidbits of park history:1870 Civil War General Henry D. Washburn served as leader of an expedition of prominent westerners through the area. It had previously been visited only by Native Americans, a few fur trappers, and (in 1869) a trio of intrepid adventurers.
1872 Congress set aside and reserved park land “as a public park or pleasuring-ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.”
1886–87 During one of the bitterest winters in history, photographer Frank J. Haynes and a small party skied into the park on the first winter tour.
1904 Old Faithful Inn opened to the public.
1915 The first automobiles were allowed into the park.
1963 The first snowmobiles took visitors to a wintry Old Faithful.1988 Devastating forest fires raged through the park, affecting 36% of its territory.
1992 Annual park visitation topped 3 million.
1995 Gray wolves were reintroduced into Yellowstone from Canada.
CREDITS: Both photos on this page are used courtesy of the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Yellowstone National Park.
IN THE GUIDEBOOK: See page 38 of Yellowstone Treasures for a picture of F. J. Haynes’s 1886–87 skiing party. You can find more historical dates and events in the chapter called “Chronology: Yellowstone Since 1800,” pages 319–29 of the sixth edition.
Revised September 7, 2023. All Rights Reserved.