Last updated: November 30, 2015
According to our archivist, Kepler Cascades was one of the major attractions for early visitors. It shows up frequently in photo albums of an earlier album including this image from “Arnold (?) family photographs, 1912,” Trip to Yellowstone Collection (MSC 023), Yellowstone Park Archives.
My dear friend Elsie:—
For the first moment, I am having time to write that promised letter. This is Sunday night—my third day in Yellowstone. This morning we left the Wylie camp at the Upper Geyser Basin, at eight o’clock, having spent two nights and one whole day there among the hundreds of geysers, which I cannot here describe, but of which I shall have much to tell when I come home. Our first point of greater interest en route this morning was Kepler Cascade—a mile from Old Faithful Inn. The stage stopped at the platform, and “we” (will tell later in the letter who helps to make the “we”)—we walked out upon a safe-banistered plank-walk over the rocks, from which we had a fine view of the cascade and canyon, looking downward, I suppose, several hundred feet. Here a beautiful rivulet trinkles [sic] down the rock-lined valley—dropping several score of feet over great boulders, dashing and foaming over the stone obstructions in triumph, and then resuming its peaceful journey down the deep valley in the very heart of
the primitive forest. Having passed the Continental Divide, we had noon lunch at the Thumb Lunch Tent, and all were ready for the splendid “goodness” in the dining-tent awaiting us. After luncheon, we went to the “garbage dump” to see the bears, and enjoyed their cunning maneuvers immensely. Next we visited the boiling paint pots where many pools of hot, bubbling mud of many colors entertained is, as if conscious of our interest in their actions. Next a short walk led us to the famous Fishing Cone on the shore of Yellowstone Lake.
The Fishing Cone is a pool of boiling water confined within a circling cement-like wall of its own formation. One may sit upon the round edge of this hot pool and catch fish from the lake of cool, blue water – and then turn to the cone, and boil the fish without walking a step. Leaving the Thumb Lunch Station at two o’clock in the afternoon, we arrived here at the Yellowstone Lake Camp at five o’clock this afternoon. The first thing after registering at the “office tent,” was “making friends with the
bears.” Some of them ate sugar from our hands and became real friendly, while we chased another (a great black one, weighing about 400 pounds) up a pine tree to a height of about seventy feet. The black and the brown bears are quite friendly, but, Elsie, you just ought to see them “run up a tree,” and see the tourists scatter, at the arrival of the “silver tips.” The “silver tip” is the most vicious of all the bears in the Park, and the other bears, as well as tourists, decline all opportunities to gain intimate friendship. Across the Yellowstone Lake from this place, we have a splendid view of a snow-capped range of mountains – and among them is the Giant’s Head – often called “The Sleeping Giant.”
This profile of a giant’s face is plainly out-lined against the sky – on the very mountaintop – requiring no stretch of imagination to perceive its features. Before supper, I fed two beautiful, full-grown elk, crackers from my hand, and you just ought to have seen these
gentle-eyed, innocent animals thus closely inspected.
After supper the boys made a great bon-fire, around which the jolly crowd of tourists sat in the midst of “a pop-corn picnic.” In this hour we enjoyed a beautiful reminder of the Sabbath, for an organ was brought out-doors—around which a splendid choir assembled to sing sacred songs, every quality of voice being represented and sweetly audible. For a few moments the songs ceased while we watched the moon rise across the lake, from over the mountain-top.
O Elsie, the beauty of this scene! It would take a poet’s pen to describe its silver gleam upon the still water, for it seemed like the bursting radiance of a new world wrapped in gentle, heavenly light. Surely it was “a lover’s moon” of which poet’s write, for of all the soft blend of light and gentle, enchanting beauty of “moonlight poetry,” this scene was the climax. “A lover’s moon!” Elsie, do you comprehend my sentiment? Well, I guess you’ll laugh, but here goes for the important news:
Just before I started into the Park, my eyes met the eyes of a “college chap,” and in some dignified way (I never knew how it happened,) I became acquainted with this young fellow who has since become my escort thru Yellowstone. Elsie, I won’t say that I’m in love with him, but to say that the handsome, and intelligent fellow is very interesting, is to put it mildly. Of course, I suppose our acquaintance is far from permanent, but I think he has an idea of making it so. Elsie, did a man ever make love to you in a “dignified way”? Well, you just ought to have some of my experience—just a taste any way. It beats the silly “hand-holding” an hundred fold. My new friend is my definition of a genius—a real story-teller, entertainer and hypnotizer. The latter being an unconscious talent on his part, but nevertheless, he leads you on and on with all the ease, it seems, with which one lures a child with a lump of sugar. But, of course, he cannot toll me—for I am hardly a child, you know. You know I am very independent with men—but at the same time, my heart is
flesh; for if there is anything a romantic woman likes better than the wooing of a “congenial, all-round man,” it is “more wooing.” But enough now, regarding my new friend, lest you think I’m in love.
The “savages” are very courteous and attentive to the tourists, and I like this real camp-life in which I have not encountered any discomfort whatever.
Oh, I was about to forget to tell you who are the “savages.” You poor, ignorant thing! The “savages” are the employees about the campground—composed mostly of college boys and girls who seek employment during their vacation. The tourists are called the “dudes,” the stage drivers—“skinners,” and the soldiers the “swoddies.”
Well, you old girl, I am obliged to close, for the time-card, telling the “dudes” to rise in time for a six o’clock breakfast, reminds me of the necessity of sleeping “while it is yet time.” More about the trip and “the man” later.
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.