Last updated: November 30, 2015
Today’s picture is catalog # YELL 118409. Purported to be from 1906, this photograph shows two women (Mrs. Albert Noyes, Adilade Bostick) sitting on the widow’s walk of the Old Faithful Inn. You can just see the searchlight on the right side of the image.
It was late in the evening at the Upper Geyser Basin, when Clara and RuDell sat together in a quiet spot of the camp-ground:
“I trust your book will be successful—the blending of romance with the wonderful scenes of Yellowstone,” said Clara, turning a beautiful, radiant face to RuDell.
“If it’s a success,” replied RuDell, “it will be because of the inspiration of your presence.”
The girl’s blue eyes met the powerful blue-gray eyes of the man.
“Oh, you flatter me, Mr. RuDell, I could not—my—my presence,” she corrected, “could not inspire an author, but the Park, so full of life and so alive with living things, birds, animals, flowers, green trees and grass, odd scenes—all this should inspire you.”
“But you are like the Park,” he replied, “you are beautiful—full of life; your eyes more wonderful than all the wonders of Yellowstone combined; you can, you do inspire me.”
“Will you write any of your book in your room tonight?” questioned Clara, as if she sought to evade a direct reply.
For a moment RuDell felt a queer guilt—felt that he had made a great mistake in having permitted the belief that he was an author, or that he intended writing a book. But an unintentional falsehood might grow into a fact; yea, a mighty truth, if often repeated, and with the honest purpose of making it a truth. RuDell might have been an author, without the pretense, had he known his ability—and had the courage to compel the world to know it by a demonstration of his genius. Into his soul there swept a conflict of emotions, yet one only among them he was sure of—that, whatever Clara’s feelings toward him might be, he did not wish to deceive her in his pretense.
“I am not so sure I shall write a book, Miss Denhart—anyhow, I’ll not write any part of it tonight in my room; I’m going to give myself up to thinking of you only.”
He could see her more clearly now in the soft moonlight—the slender, graceful figure, the flash of her beautiful eyes; the white, filmy gown, and lovely upturned face; the wealth of chestnut-brown hair now golden in the moonlight.
Like a raging fire the influence of the woman had come over him, consuming his every thought, arousing all that was lovely and trusting and tender in his man’s heart. Yielding to an overmastering emotion—a mystery of the heart, he took her little hand in his, pressed it tenderly in his fingers as if it were a white lily, and for a moment they sat, exchanging those silent messages of the soul, such as so often determine human destiny. Then he lifted the little hand to his red lips, kissing it with all the tenderness and reverence of the devoted lover.
He was breathing rather quickly. For the moment the incident had taken him out of himself—his sensation was one of very masculine pleasure at seeing young beauty yield to his de-
mand. She had been extremely winning at the moment of her yielding; it had been the sweet yet spirited submission which may have in it infinite grace.
Then quickly, a little harshly perhaps, she withdrew her hand from his gentle pressure, saying. “Mr. RuDell, I cannot grant you this liberty again.”
His manner at once became apologetic and his face pale and full of entreaty.
Who can read a woman’s heart? Which of us, having gained love and all its fullness, having held in our arms the answer to all our vague questionings, can read the heart of a woman? Altho [sic] Clara accepted his attentions sweetly and readily enough, and seemed not averse to his company, yet she was modest and commanded deference and respect.
The evening, with the splendid moon, half in clouds, seemed almost divine, as they arose and walked to the camp. In his quiet “tent-room” that night, RuDell lay thinking until the moon grew dim—thinking only of Clara.
The time came that same evening, while Clara was alone in the sweet solitude of the night, when she ceased to struggle against the tender emotions that were awakening in her bosom. She was deeply impressed with the man. She perceived that while he was by no means a youth, his manner suggested a certain boyishness—a rare tenderness, and she felt that his emotional heart beat in as manly a bosom as ever a hero possessed. Seating herself on the edge of the bed, she regarded one slight hand with its row of dimples, like the impress of beads. Then the beating of her heart recommenced, and fiercely, exultantly kissing the hand that RuDell had kissed, she sank to her knees.
Then she uncovered the hand where his kiss seemed to linger visibly on delicate flesh. Nothing could take her from that instant, when the whole meaning of the man had seemed to be concentrated on the little spot. With a woman’s divine egotism, she believed that she un-
derstood from the kiss the most spiritual fibers of his nature, and the world of tenderness in her, seeming to meet a world of tenderness in him, the kiss stood to her for a bond, a link between them.
She would have liked to sing, to tire herself with the expression of her joy; but in the next breath a pessimistic sentiment possessed her; for she realized that many a timid girl had lost love’s battle while a bolder woman carried off the prize. In this fear, however, she was mistaken. A woman’s timidity, virtue, and modest blush will win a true man when all else fail. As if rocked to sleep in the kind, shadowy arms of the cool night, Clara reposed in the elysium of a lover’s dream.
The following morning the sun had risen when the company of tourists had eaten breakfast, and were escorted by a courteous guide to the wonderful scenes of and among the many geysers in the heart of the Upper Geyser Basin.
After the first night of “love’s young
dream,” RuDell and Clara were together with the crowd—often walking “arm in arm,” and enjoying alike the uniqueness and greatness of the morning ramble.
Nature has lavished her gifts on the region of the Yellowstone—wild woodland, crystal rivers, gorgeous canyons and sparkling cascades—all under the guard of mountain sentinels around whose lofty heads group every form of cloud castle that vagrant winds can build. But of all the wonders that God in His mysterious way has there worked to perform, none is so strange—so startling—as the geysers.
To count them, great and small, would be like counting the stars, and to measure in words their awful power, or picture their splendor of sparkle and symmetry—that, no one can do. They must be seen to be appreciated, and once seen—the memory and mystery of them will linger to the end of the longest life. They are as different as geysers can be. There are dead geysers—dead from burst throats—mere boil-
ing pools now—shaped to resemble a variety of familiar things; with depths that the eye cannot sound, and colors—blues, greens, purples, reds—down their deep sides and in the wonderful tracery about their rims, so blended, so beautiful that one may well believe that all the paints on the palette of the Master were commingled in their decoration.
One blubbers and gurgles and grumbles awhile, and then with an angry roar lifts a great column of mud into the air. Another steams and growls thru an orifice hundreds of feet wide in seeming angry spite that years ago it blew out its throat and ceased to gush forever.
The coming and going of the geysers is an astonishing and awe-inspiring spectacle, and so accurately timed and so certain to perform are they, that no one need miss the experience. The geyser passive is a hole at the summit of a cone. The cone rises gradually from the plane of the formation and, ragged and deep, growls hoarsely and steams fitfully. Thus it is a moment be-
fore its time for activity, and then comes the geyser active. There is a loud preliminary roar and then suddenly, with a rush and power almost terrifying, a white obelisk of scalding, steaming water is lifted into the air sometimes 250 feet, and there held scintillating and glistening in the sun until the play is over, when it sinks gradually back whence it came, or overflows, and the fitful growling and steaming begins anew.
Every geyser has a time of its own and there are thousands of them, varying in size from the little growler that sputters and spits a thimbleful from its tiny throat, to the Giant that three times a month plays for ninety minutes, 250 feet high.
How old the geysers are, recorded time does not tell, nut one or two of the wise men, who are always measuring the duration of things by some system of calculation, have determined by multiplying the deposition from each eruption by the height of the cone, that the Giant, for in-
stance, has been playing some thousands of years.
If those who come and go across the land every year on pleasure bent, only know how curious and beautiful geysers are, the National Park would count its visitors by increasing multitudes.
But the geysers that most attract are the regular-timed spouting wonders—the Giant and Giantess, Old Faithful, the Grand, the Fountain, the Castle and others, whose names mark the geography of the Park.
Having visited and seen the scenes of geysers of greater fame, and having seen most of them in action, the guide escorted the party of tourists to the Haynes’ Picture Shop where were found an abundance of Yellowstone pictures in natural colors, making the most beautiful and appropriate souvenirs.
A few moments later, the party followed the guide to see “Old Faithful Geyser” play, and hardly had the tourists arrived before the erup-
tion started. Old Faithful Geyser is the center of the Yellowstone landscape, and by the regularity of its eruptions, it merits its name.
the great blast of water, shooting upward 130 feet and falling at its base in sprays and mist and steam reflects all the colors of the prism, producing an astonishing effect. Visitors stand fascinated for hours to see it play again and again.
In imagination, lift in a symmetrical cone two hundred and fifty thousand gallons of scalding, steaming water one hundred and fifty feet high and hold it there three minutes; jewel the grand fountain with a million diamonds; filter thru it the hues of innumerable dancing rainbows; commingle in confusion every sound of splash and splutter—and you will have a faint idea of Old Faithful in action.
It is the immutable water-clock of the Yellowstone—the most famous and beautiful geyser in the whole world.
The note at the beginning of the play of the geyser is an angry growl down deep in its throat whence almost instantly the water, in rapid recurrent leaps, forms the stately fountain that plays several minutes then slowly sinks into the earth to await its time to rise again. Sometimes the winds unfold from its top an iridescent banner of spray; but more often the fountain form is a perfect cone.
Old Faithful plays about every seventy minutes and seldom disappoints. Visitors to the Park may therefore see it under various conditions of light. In the daytime, under the sun, it glistens and gleams with prismatic hues; but the most enchanting hour to witness its performance is that when the night is falling—when the dusk is around it, and the last faint tints of the sun linger in the sky. Then it is a spectre in ghostly white standing against the sombre background of the wilderness—a sight strange and startling and never to be forgotten.
It has long been the custom at Old Faithful Inn to flood the geyser at night with the rays of a searchlight. Then the spectacle takes on new features—all the rainbow hues are there, and looking thru the fountain along the sweep of light, one sees a bediamonded [sic] form more beautiful than any ever wrought by the hands of the Ice King.
Verily, Old Faithful is one of the most wonderful presentations in all the repertoire of Nature.
Next the party of tourists were escorted thru Old Faithful Inn—a short walk from Old Faithful Geyser. A most unique hotel characterizes this quaint, refined building of incomparable “oddness.” In a class by itself and having required great genius in its construction, it is original in its originality.
The great building is several stories in height and is a long, wide, high mass of related angles, dormers, roof, porches, and pillars that, viewed by close inspection, form a picture never
to be forgotten. It is constructed of trees cut from the mountains and sawed and trimmed on the ground. The huge structure of logs and unplanned timbers is accurately fitted together. Crooked and twisted limbs of all shapes and sizes, and rough gnarls have been utilized in most novel and effective ways. Enticing nooks and imposing corridors are seen. An enormous lava chimney, with a mammoth fireplace and an immense clock, welcomes the guest the moment he enters the door and stands within the vast lobby. This lobby, and office, is 75 feet square and 92 feet high, with rustic balconies on three sides reached by an equally rustic stairway. The furnishings are in the Arts and Crafts style, and in all represents an expenditure of about $200,000. Old Faithful Inn is supreme of its kind, and is the most popular hotel home in the country. It is a surprising example of what art, when properly directed, can accomplish in the handling of crude materials.
Next, the delighted party of tourists were escorted to Klamer’s Curio store where they found a splendid stock of merchandise—including booklets, photographs, colored pictures and other souvenirs of Yellowstone.
From this abundant store, a coach conveyed the tourists back to the camp-ground—stopping en route to view the queer little boiling pool in which “the devil takes in washing.” Many of the party threw their handkerchiefs into this pool which sucks them to regions below and out-of-sight—returning the handkerchiefs in a moment, to the surface. Next, and the last point of the morning’s interest, and, perhaps, as beautiful as any other scene in Yellowstone, was Emerald Pool, in which gorgeous deep green colors appear.
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.