National Register of Historic Places

Yellowstone National Park,

Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming

Established in 1872, Yellowstone National Park is America's first national park. Located in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, it is home to a large variety of wildlife including grizzly bears, wolves, bison, and elk. Preserved within Yellowstone National Park are Old Faithful and a collection of the world's most extraordinary geysers and hot springs. This is also the location where the only President of the United States of America, who once worked as a park ranger, served—Gerald R. Ford, America’s 38th President.

The nationally significant Fort Yellowstone Historic District, listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2003, is in the northwestern portion of Yellowstone National Park on an old hot springs formation. The buildings on this plateau represent the first development of administrative and concession facilities in the park. In the first decade after Yellowstone was established the park was under serious threat from those who would exploit, rather than protect, its resources. Problems that the park faced included poachers killing animals and souvenir hunters looting areas. Yellowstone National Park turned to the U.S. Army for help, and in 1886 men from Company M, First United States Cavalry, and Fort Custer, Montana Territory under Captain Moses Harris came to Yellowstone to begin what would be more than 30 years of military presence in Yellowstone.

Yellowstone National Park,
Photo courtesy of Yellowstone National Park

The Cavalry only expected to be here a short while and they built a temporary post near the base of the Terraces called Camp Sheridan. After five cold, harsh winters, they realized that their stay in the park was going to be longer than expected, so they built Fort Yellowstone, a permanent post. The first buildings of Fort Yellowstone were finished by late 1891. As more troops were needed, more buildings were constructed: officers' quarters, guard house, headquarters, barracks for enlisted men, stables for their horses and non-commissioned officers' quarters. In 1909, Scottish masons began constructing sandstone buildings here - among them the Albright Visitor Center (then the Bachelor Officers' Quarters) and the administration building (then a two-troop barracks for 200 men). The Chapel, the final building constructed during the Army's tenure, was also constructed of native sandstone. The stone for these buildings was obtained from a local quarry between the Gardner River and the Mammoth Campground. In 1910, at the height of the Army's presence in Yellowstone, there were 324 soldiers stationed here, along with families and civilian employees. These troops staffed not only Fort Yellowstone, but were stationed throughout the park in small details at various outposts. In 1916, the National Park Service was established, and the Cavalry gave control of Yellowstone back to the civilians.

Significant Buildings at Fort Yellowstone, in Yellowstone National Park:

The Norris Soldier Station
The Norris Soldier Station (Museum of the National Park Ranger) was an outlying station for soldiers to patrol and watch over Norris Geyser Basin. It was among the longest occupied stations in the park. A prior structure was built in 1886, replaced after fire in 1897, and modified in 1908. After the Army years, the building was used as a Ranger Station and residence until an earthquake in 1959 caused structural damage. The building was restored in 1991.

The Norris Geyser Basin Museum
The Norris Geyser Basin Museum is one of the park's original trailside museums built in 1929-30. It has always been a museum. It is an outstanding example of a stone-and-log architecture

Old Faithful Inn
Photograph courtesy of Yellowstone National Park

Old Faithful Historic District
This designation applies to the developed area adjacent to Old Faithful Geyser, which contains many historic structures. Below are some of the historic sites located within the historic district.

Old Faithful Inn
Built during the winter of 1903-04, the Old Faithful Inn was designed by Robert C. Reamer, who wanted the asymmetry of the building to reflect the chaos of nature. The lobby of the hotel features a 65-foot ceiling, a massive fireplace, and railings made of contorted lodge pole pine. Wings were added to the hotel in 1915 and 1927, and today there are 327 rooms available to guests in this National Historic Landmark.

Old Faithful Lodge
Unlike the Inn, the current Old Faithful Lodge is a result of numerous changes dating back to the early days of tent camps provided by companies like Shaw and Powell Camping Company and Wylie Permanent Camping Company. These camps were erected throughout the park and offered shelter before hotels and lodges were built. Both companies had facilities at Old Faithful. By 1917, auto traffic into the park was increasing, and it was decided that some camps could be eliminated. Yellowstone Park Camping Company emerged and operated on the old site of the Shaw and Powell camp, the present day site of the Lodge. In 1918, a laundry was built on the site and construction continued on the facility until 1928 when the Lodge reached its present configuration.

Cabin-style accommodations are available at Old Faithful Lodge. Often confused with the other two hotels in the area, Old Faithful Lodge houses a cafeteria, gift shop, coffee shop, and the front desk where guests check in.

Lower Hamilton Store
Built in 1897, this is the oldest structure in the Old Faithful area still in use. The "knotty pine" porch is a popular resting place for visitors, providing a great view of Geyser Hill. The oldest building at Old Faithful was built as a photo studio in 1897 for F. Jay Haynes. Originally located 700 feet southwest of Beehive Geyser and about 350 feet northwest of the front of the Old Faithful Inn, it now stands near the intersection of the Grand Loop Road and the fire lane, near the crosswalk.

Nez Perce Creek Wayside
This exhibit tells the story of the flight of the Nez Perce through Yellowstone in 1877. A band of 700 men, women, and children entered the park on the evening of August 23rd, fleeing 600 Army regulars commanded by General O.O. Howard. The Nez Perce had been told to leave their homeland and move to a reservation. They fled their ancestral home in the Wallowa Valley in northeastern Oregon on June 17, 1877, and by the time they entered the park, several battles, including a fight at Big Hole, had occurred.

The Nez Perce tried reaching the Canadian border but were stopped by General Nelson Miles, who had reinforced General Howard's command. After several clashes with the American military some Nez Perce were able to slip into Canada, but the remaining 350 tribal members led by Chief Joseph surrendered to General Miles. This is where Chief Joseph gave his famous speech, "I will fight no more forever." The 1,700-mile flight that included Yellowstone National Park had come to an end. Today, Nez Perce Creek and the nearby wayside exhibit are reminders of their story.

Howard Eaton Trail
Named for an early park outfitter and guide, the Howard Eaton Trail paralleled the Grand Loop Road in many places. Remnants of this old horse trail are maintained and used by hikers today. Here in the Old Faithful District, the trail provides a less traveled route to Lone Star Geyser from the developed area.

[photo] and link to bigger image of Gerald Ford
Gerald Ford was a Park Ranger at Yellowstone
Photo courtesy of Yellowstone National Park

Presidential Park Ranger
Gerald Ford 1913-2006:

Aside from the historic sites within Yellowstone National Park, Yellowstone is the location where the only U.S. President who was ever a Park Ranger worked. In the summer of 1936, Gerald R. Ford, later 38th President of the United States, served as a park ranger in Yellowstone. Ford later recalled the summer of 1936 as, “One of the greatest summers of my life.” According to his supervisor at Yellowstone, Canyon District Ranger Frank Anderson, Ford was “a darned good ranger.” While serving in Yellowstone, one of Ford’s assignments was as an armed guard on the bear-feeding trucks. The National Park Service no longer feeds the bears, but Ford always remembered that duty and often regaled his family with stories about his time spent on the bear-feeding trucks. During his summer at Yellowstone, Ford also worked in the Canyon Hotel and Lodge meeting and greeting VIPS, a job Ford explained to his supervisor as “undemocratic and un-American to give special attention to VIPs.”