On August 13, 1886, Special Order #79 was received from Fort Custer, Montana Territory. The next day, Captain Moses Harris and 50 men from Company M, First United States Cavalry began a march toward Yellowstone National Park which was just 14 years old. On August 20th of that year, the U.S. Army took over management of our first national park.
Within days, detachments were stationed at several “soldier stations,” that had housed civilian Assistant Superintendents prior to the army’s arrival. One of those, the Norris Civilian Administration Building, was located in this area.
That first station was replaced in 1887 by a building that burned in February 1908. The log structure we see today was built during the summer of 1908. The buildings design with porches and dormer windows reflect the style of those times.
I like to think about what this place would have been like. The park’s main road came right through here, with a bridge over the Gibbon River. There would’ve been barns and stables uphill, near where the campground is today. Over the years, different hotels and tent camps were built on the opposite side of the river.
After the National Park Service was formed on August 25, 1916, park rangers continued to use this building as a ranger station. On August 25, 1991 the Norris Soldier Station became the home of the Museum of the National Park Ranger.
With 390 different units and 79 million acres in the National Park System, rangers are as diverse as the places we protect. Men and women from all backgrounds work as interpreters, scientists, fire fighters and police, as well as in other fields; all park rangers.
The Museum of the National Park Ranger is staffed in summer by retired park rangers. These volunteers spend a couple of weeks sharing their time and the stories of what it was like working as a ranger. This place makes me proud to wear a flat-hat and we should all be proud of protecting this small piece of our heritage.