Yellowstone Park Romance: Day 4

February 04, 2015 Posted by: Jessica Gerdes, Librarian
In a lead up to that most romantic day of the year, February 14th, we will be continuing William Popham’s 1911 book, “Yellowstone Park Romance.” If you do not see any new posts, you may need to refresh your browser page.Images are taken from the Yellowstone Park Museum. They may not have been taken in 1911 but we hope that they help to illustrate the author’s wonderfully descriptive prose.Please note that many of the practices the author writes about (including feeding the animals or tramping near certain features) are no longer allowed today.

YELL 129772. Color view of the interior of a Wylie Co. dining tent, printed around the same time Clara and RuDell might have eaten in one.

Today’s featured picture is catalog # YELL 129772. It is a color view of the interior of a Wylie Co. dining tent and was printed around the same time Clara and RuDell might have eaten in one. Printed in red at the lower border is “WYLIE SERIES No. 5. WYLIE DINING TENT INTEROR – YELLOWSTONE PARK. HAYNES-PUB. Printed in Germany.”


Chapter 1:

At the time our story opens there was in the Wylie “office tent,” the west entrance to Yellowstone, an exceedingly beautiful woman whose wondrous charm of person and winsome personality rendered her especially conspicuous.

The young woman with chestnut-brown hair tinted with little gleams of gold, and possessing dreamy eyes, as blue as sky or ocean, might truly be said to be the personification of a kiss, the incarnation of an embrace, and the ideal inspiration of a dream of love.

This damsel—Miss Clara Denhart, found herself in the congenial company of other tourists—all of whom were enjoying together a brief rest before entering upon their trip thru Yellowstone.

In the corner of the tent stood a young man—a gentleman hobo, watching the company of tourists in general, and the young woman with chest-




nut-brown hair and blue eyes, in particular.  The hobo did not belong to the class of wandering peddlers, saloon loungers, or tin-can trampers with unkempt beard and patched clothing.  His face was beardless, his smooth-cut long hair resembled that of an artist or a harpist; his face was strong and guiltless, his forehead high and intellectual, his eyes blue-gray and kindly, with a retiring expression.

The same reticent look lingered about his mouth, tho the lips were firm enough to denote strength of character.  But description cannot do him justice, for the soul within gave the face a glory all its own.  But he was not what the world would call a handsome man.

The hobo’s eyes sought, and suddenly they found and rested upon the face of the blue-eyed young woman.  Their eyes met, flashed, and—met again.  In one brief second—in a flash—she saw in his eyes pale fields of blue-gray, a something that made her look away—but back just as quickly; something unexpected, inde-




scribable, tender, yet something denoting persistency, strength, power.  It was with effort that she turned her head away and tried to converse with the company of tourists.  For him, in that magic moment, he felt as one in a strange, adventurous dream; his heart seemed to stand still.  But in an another second, as if waking from the dream, he resumed his inner power, compelled his thought, and mastered himself.  In that brief instant he had made up his mind to meet the girl, to make her acquaintance—and that very quickly, for he knew, from the conversation of the tourists, that they would soon be in the four-horse stage en route thru Yellowstone.  It seemed to him that his very life depended upon his success.  He deeply felt the strangeness of the situation—the stupendous task for him, an utter stranger, and penniless, “to break into society.”

Realizing there was no time for delay, that within the next few minutes he must win success or be humiliated by defeat, he thought as




in lightning flashes.  Upon the ability to tell a good story, depends the success of this class of hobo.  Then he must tell a story that will appeal to the peculiar sentiment and temperament of the listener—just here arises the difficulty.  The story must be half extemporaneous, and, whether fact or fiction, matters little, if consistent.  The story must command attention from the very beginning, and he who tells it must be a ready reader of human nature, and so be able to frame a story that will appeal to the listener.

Only thus may he hope to produce conviction and be able to drive the arrow, as it were, to the heart.  A successful hobo of this dignified class, must be an artist, yea, almost a genius.  He must spontaneously and instantaneously read in the face of his hearer the very thought therein written.

Erect and dignified, the hobo walked from the corner of the tent to the company of tourists, stood before them as if he owned the National




Park they had come to visit, and in the corner of his eye one might easily detect humor, laughter and kindness.  At one and the same instant, the whole company of tourists looked up as the hobo exclaimed, “Alas! or should I say luckily, this pleasure-seeking company escaped the wreck this morning on the Short Line.”

“What wreck?” several shouted in one voice.

“The wreck that might have been,” replied the hobo, “had the engineer fallen asleep at this throttle.”

A merry ripple of laughter ensued, and the hobo followed his success with another story which won him the acquaintance of every tourist as well as made him a welcome humorist in the travel-weary company.

“Do you know,” asked a man of the company of tourists, “what time we arrive at the destination of our first day’s coaching in Yellowstone?”

“Four-thirty this afternoon, at the Upper Geyser Basin,” was the hobo’s prompt and accurate reply.




“You are acquainted with Yellowstone?” the same man asked.

“Only from printed description,” replied the hobo, “but I hope to be acquainted from observation, if I win my wager.”

“Your wager?” asked another voice.

“Yes, I wagered a college chum $1,000 that I could hobo thru Yellowstone in first class style without a cent; could go with some congenial company of tourists like this, you know—to help entertain, and have some fun.”

“But,” continued he hobo, smiling, and without waiting for any reply, turning his trouser pockets wrong side out, to show their emptiness—“I guess the success of my wager depends on a popular subscription.”

“I ween you’ll write a book of your experiences?” ventured one of the elder ladies.

The newness of the thought and the suggestive idea fairly took the hobo’s breath.

“Why, yes’m,” replied the hobo, “if I can find the inspiration,”—and for one brief sec-




ond, he felt embarrassed at the untruthfulness of his reply.

“Will your book be fiction, poetry or botany?” asked another—all suddenly becoming much interested.

“Oh, love of course!” the hobo replied—“the plot to be fiction and the characters might be taken from actual life—lovers in this company,” added the hobo, with a smile, “if I should be so fortunate as to find a welcome among you.”

“The latter is assured,” replied a large man of the company, and producing a greenback, he added, “here’s ten of your expense.”

“Now, boys,” he continued, “let’s have the ‘hobo author’ illuminate this trip—we need a few smiles and laughs thru Yellowstone.”

The liberal donor smiled at his reference to the new comer, as the “hobo author,” to show that he meant it in a kindly spirit.

The tourists looked questions at one another—but the hobo knew that he had won “on the




book proposition” and his “chosen subject,” for many in the company were lovers—unmarried, but—determined to “make some hay” while “doing” Yellowstone.

The contribution seemed to drag, and realizing how critical the moment, the hobo said:

“In writing the book I shall have to find a true definition of love, will not some one volunteer to offer his or her conception of this world-old ‘malady’?”  No response being immediately forthcoming, the man who gave the “ten,” broke the silence by saying:

“We’ll hear your deginition of love, in poetry.”

“No, in prose,” demanded another.

“I’ll comply with both requests,” replied the hobo, “first in poetry then in prose.”

The hobo realized that upon the cleverness of his extemporaneous effort would depend his success—his hope to make the lasting acquaintance of the girl with chestnut-brown hair and dreamy blue eyes.  His wager faded into insig-




nificance at thought of the girl.  He had invited the crucial moment, he had solicited the request, had anticipated it, and it had been made.  Now could he give two definitions of love—one in poetry, the other in prose, to the satisfaction of the whole company?  Could he make good his pretense of author—an idea suggested by a stranger?  Could he ride in on such pretense?  Now, for one glance to inspire him!  Looking into the blue eyes of the girl for whose sake he had made the hazard, the hobo read in her look a whole book, the chapters of which revealed her temperament, her nature.  He saw that she was not one to be carried away by brilliancy and gayety, but rather that she loved dim lights and mournful music, and found a melancholy pleasure in sad suggestion.  Here he found the key to her admiration, and at the same time received a suggestion by whose aid he might command the applause of the whole company.  He knew that to render an adequate definition of this most potent and most sacred of all words




—a definition which would appeal to her inner nature and win her approval—meant simply the applause of all present, for recognized as being a young lady of superior charm and personality, she was exceedingly popular with the whole party.

Then came the hobo’s poem—spoken in a voice at once harmonious, musical, and tender—yet eloquent.




Love is Life’s Rose.


In the heart of life’s garden

            Where dead thorns repose—

Love us among them,

            The beautiful rose.

A smile, is both sunbeam

            And dew to its lip;

And kisses, the nectar

            For lovers to sip.


In plucking the rose,

            ‘Tis well we should warn

The eager young fingers

            To look for a thorn.

It grows with the rose

            In the shadows of night;

But often unseen

            In the splendor of light.


Both beauty and fragrance

            The rose might distill—

Inspiring the heart

            With a rapturous thrill.

But life’s rose, or love—

            Be it made very plain—

Cannot mature and endure

            Without thorns of pain.




Luckily, and as the hobo had intended, the poem kindled a sort of inner enthusiasm in the blue-eyed girl, who, with a smile, started the applause in which the whole company simultaneously joined.  When the cheers had but slightly subsided, the hobo commenced his prose definition—for at a glance of his keen, nature-reading eye, he knew he might capture the other dispositions as he list.

“Love in its completeness is made up of two great elements—first, the element that is wholly spiritual, that is capable of sympathy, and tenderness, and deep emotion.  The other element is the physical, the source of passion, of creative energy, and of the truly virile qualities, whether it be in man or woman.”

“Love,” continued the hobo, “is the golden fact of all fiction; the one star of life that shines brightest when the night is the darkest; the soul’s ‘daily bread’; the only touch that can wake the saddest and sweetest notes on the harp of a thousand strings, the human heart; the




only builder of a new home and maker of happy lives; the only karat of the soul’s gold that makes men and women more valuable than the swine, and a little lower than the angels; and is the only grace of life for which a good woman would die if needs be, or for which a man would follow a woman to the earth’s end to win—such,” added the hobo, “is my conception of true love’s definition.”

Again unanimous applause followed, interrupted only by flying currency and silver—five dollars being given by the blue-eyed girl.

In a moment the necessary amount was contributed, and the man who had at first contributed the ten, after learning the hobo’s name, said:

“Ladies and gentlemen, it is with the profoundest pleasure that I introduce to this company so congenial a gentleman, yea, so great a genius as our new friend, Mr. Kendric RuDell, whom we shall not suffer to lose his unique wager.”




Immediately the name of each tourist was called, and to each “Mr. Kendric RuDell” gave a polite bow in recognition.  A few moments later the hobo’s ticket having been purchased with the contributed fund, the whole company were in the high-seated stage, drawn by four fine horses en route thru the world-wonder Yellowstone.

Naturally and unobtrusively, RuDell made it convenient to sit with Clara Denhart, who alone had inspired his effort.  The book-writing pretense had gone so far that RuDell now considered it impossible to correct.  Despite his embarrassment, he decided it best for him to “be come an author.”  Then came to his mind the unpleasant fact that he had neither pen, pencil, nor piece of paper in his suit case.

“A poor workman,” he thought, “without tools.”

But another idea relieved him:

“I can pretend to write from memory—without notes.”




Of course, some biography was necessary.  So he told them how he had, with the inborn instinct of a roamer, left college a week before on the thousand-dollar wager.  At the mention of the wager, a very pious elderly lady asked in a frank, but sweet way, “But, Mr. RuDell, is it not wrong to gamble?”

For a second the hobo was startled, and the others were embarrassed in their sympathy for the man.  But the hobo, whose mental, as well as other resources, were being wonderfully augmented, and, we might say, also stimulated, replied quite readily:

“Not under the circumstances, I think, for the young man from whom I am winning the money, is fast becoming a victim to strong drink, and his periods of abstinence, it seems, prevail only when he lacks the money to purchase whiskey.”

“Being wealthy,” continued the hobo, “his parents foolishly gave him $1,000 above a sufficiency to pay for his board, clothes, and tuition.




And even his best friends are of the opinion that if I win this wager, it will be a heaven-sent blessing to the young fellow, who, without whiskey, is studious and punctual; but with it, becomes a drinking derelict.”

At this conclusion, nearly everybody was ready to give applause and show approval of the hobo’s ingenius reply.  But whether fiction or fact, it seemed to satisfy the pious lady who at last said:

“Well, Mr. RuDell, oddly so, but I do believe that the wager, on your part, is the act of a gentleman.”

The word “gentleman” brought up a new word for discussion.

“You gave us such a splendid definition of love,” said one of the ladies, “now, won’t you be obliging enough to give us your definition of the word gentleman?”

“To be a gentleman,” replied RuDell, “is to have lofty aims, to lead a pure life, to keep your honor virgin; to have esteem for your fellow




Citizens and the love of your fireside; to bear good fortune meekly; to suffer evil with constancy; to lend a hand to the weak; not to under-estimate the little things of life; to speak kindly to everyone; to look for the good and try to forget the bad in others; to know that one’s self is not faultless; to respect ladies as one’s own mother, and girls as one’s own sister, or not associate with them; to be honest with the woman you love, and when married to her, always to treat her as a bride and—shall I add? to be sweethearts all the way to heaven.”

With a flash of his powerful blue-gray eyes, RuDell continued: “The man who measures up to this standard may not exist, but one who tries diligently, and without parade, to attain it, ought to pass for a gentleman anywhere.”

RuDell’s conception of a gentleman was heartily approved by everybody in the company.  Having had a respectable introduction to Clara, and having been able to observe her more closely, RuDell was convinced that her charms bore




Close inspection, and he felt that his efforts had thus far been satisfactorily fruitful.  As the moments passed, RuDell directed his conversation to Clara, while the other members of the company conversed among themselves and enjoyed the tame scenery of their first few hours in Yellowstone.

RuDell saw again Clara’s blue eyes, questioning and significant—eyes that maddened him, and that claimed attention, revealing, as they did, so much of her soul’s beauty.  A woman’s eyes can speak as eloquently as a woman’s tongue.

In love’s vocabulary woman’s tongue is polyglot.  Miss Denhart could look at our pseudo-author without an apologizing blush—even with penetrating and commanding effectiveness.  In his make-up she perceived a strong character, and with a rare ability to do big things in the world; the crimson curve of his full lips, with such a gift of ready speech, had an unexpected subtle and winning charm.




The stage followed along Madison River, a most entrancing, winding, boulder-strewn stream.

Journeying onward they enjoyed every clump of flowers by the splendid road-side, anticipating new scenes of odd nature, and the beauties of an Eden of wonders; onward past flocks of wild geese and ducks inhabiting the river, and the not distant snowy peaks of mountains.  As RuDell talked of scenery, instead of watching the objects of his conversation, Clara turned more and more toward the man.  His voice was deep, and pleasing, and his description of scenes were wonderfully beautiful.

En route along the Madison and Gibbon rivers the traveler takes notice of the contrasts of the streams.  Here the river is swift and rippling, yonder almost still and full, with no height of bank—there fenced on one side by a tall cliff or mountain-side—and always clear and sparkling.

After a few hours’ journey, the first manifestations of hot springs are seen on the north




side of the roadway.  Outside of Yellowstone it might be interesting, but here it deserves only passing notice.

A farther drive of four miles up the trout-abounding Gibbon, brings the party to the Wylie Gibbon Lunch Station at the junction of the “loop” road.

After an hour or more spent in rest and refreshment here, the afternoon’s journey, thru the Lower Geyser Basin and the Midway Basin to the Wylie Permanent Camp in the heart of the worl-famous Upper Geyser Basin, is begun.  In the former basin, the Fountain Geyser and numerous hot springs are found, but the most interesting display is the “plopping” of the curious Mammoth Paint Pots.

Located on the roadside, these Paint Pots consist of boiling, bubbling mud in colors of cream, rose, red, and pink.  Resembling a mass of thickened paste, this hot mud puffs up little jets of steam—and tints of color require no stretching of the imagination to see them clear-




ly,  their softness and beautiful colors remind one of ice cream in the stage of melting.

Among other interesting points en route, and within five feet of which rolls the stage, is Morning-glory pool—with its color of boiling water is gesting its name.  This pool of boiling water is about 2x7 feet.  The border of blue and the other blend of morning-glory colors are perfect, and conspire to make this a point of much interest to all visitors.

Arriving at the Wylie Camp in the Upper Geyser Basin, about four-thirty in the afternoon of their first day’s journey, the company of tourists hastened to Riverside Geyser, a few hundred yards distant, where they beheld this geyser in action.  The flowing of a vertical stream of boiling water and steam across the river’s edge, and the rain-bow effect in the sunlight, greatly increased the interest of the new comers—especially when they learned that they had arrived in the very center of a spot where one could stand still and count the eruptions by the score.




A few hours later, the Giant Geyser played, shooting its discharge to a height of two hundred and fifty feet.

Having formed a congenial acquaintance, RuDell and Clara walked over the camping-ground together, and were pleasantly surprised to find almost a “little city” of tents erected in “street like” rows—set against a background of pine and fir, with driveways, streets, and by-paths leading in all directions.  All the sleeping tents—individual, family and four-room compartment—are erected on raised wooden floors, framed and double-topped to insure dryness.  The interiors are the acme of camp-comfort.

After supper in the big tent with a capacity of one hundred and twenty-five diners, almost the entire “population of the tent city” assembled around the nightly camp-fire where jollity and good cheer were manifest by the singing of songs, the telling of good stories and the popping of corn.  Here strangers soon become friendly and all formality disappears.

Return to Day 3


Proceed to Day 5

library, books, guidebooks, fiction, romance

2 Comments Comments icon

  1. October 23, 2016 at 03:19

    I really liked your blog article.Really thank you! Really Cool.

  2. February 07, 2015 at 06:04

    Wonderful! Love reading all these descriptions of the park as it was so many years ago.

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Last updated: August 13, 2015

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