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Not Just All Work: Yellowstone Co-Op Employee Recreation Program Records

October 01, 2012 Posted by: Cara Bertram, 2012 Archives Intern

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What do employees of Yellowstone National Park do when they're tired of looking at geysers? When they can't hike another trail? When they've seen enough elk and bears to last a lifetime? The answers to these questions are within the Yellowstone Co-Op Employee Recreation Program records in the Park Archives.

The Yellowstone Co-Op Employee Recreation Program was developed in 1957 to keep up the morale of everyone who works within the park. Taking up the motto, "For the benefit and enjoyment of the employee," the program has offered activities ranging from sleepovers and movie nights to sky diving and hunting trips.

In addition to providing various events and trips, the program has encouraged the more artistic side of park employees. There have been t-shirt design, creative writing, and photography contests, which have pitted the creative energies of park employees against one another in a friendly competition. The program also sponsors an annual talent show, allowing employees to showcase their performance prowess with the enticement of cash prizes. Or in the case of the 2006 Snowlodge Winter Olympics, it was a chance for employees to display their lack of talent in the No Talent Show.

The collection itself helps to illustrate the social lives of employees. Amongst some of the materials within the collection are flyers, calendars, evaluations, and programs from events. These records give an insight into the culture of employee life, what kinds of activities they enjoyed, and what kinds of unique opportunities living at Yellowstone provided. The collection also contains photographs, writings, and designs from the contests, giving an interesting look into how employees viewed and felt about the park through their artwork and reflections. These records provide a sneak peek into the lives of the people who make visiting Yellowstone possible and enjoyable.

Sources: Yellowstone Co-Op Employee Recreation Program records (MSC 54), Yellowstone National Park Archives.


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Did You Know?

Fire in Yellowstone Pineland in 1988

The 1988 fires affected 793,880 acres or 36 percent of the park. Five fires burned into the park that year from adjacent public lands. The largest, the North Fork Fire, started from a discarded cigarette. It burned more than 410,000 acres.