Lake Hotel (Lake Yellowstone Hotel)
Haynes undivided back postcard
Postmarked from Yellowstone July 18, 1906
(Made in Germany)
Message on front of postcard above:
July 15-- Well this is as near R- as I can get today. Wish I were there. It's cold here.
Departing Stages at the Yellowstone Lake Hotel
Detroit Publishing Company
The elegant, colonial-style Lake Hotel is the oldest standing hotel in Yellowstone. The core of the hotel was begun in
1889 and completed for its opening in 1891. It stands on a beautiful spot along the shore of Yellowstone Lake that
once served as a meeting place for Indians, trappers, and mountain men. The building was originally much plainer in
appearance (similar to the old Fountain Hotel), and was intended to serve stagecoach guests brought to Yellowstone
National Park by the Northern Pacific Railroad.
But in 1903-1904, Robert Reamer, architect of the Old Faithful Inn, renovated the hotel, adding "colonial" touches such
as false balconies, imposing Ionic columns, and dormer windows--an appearance worthy of some of the more
elegant resorts of the day (see postcards above). Reamer also supervised several renovations in the 1920s,
including the refurbishing of the interior as well as addition of the dining room, extended porte-cochere (front portico),
and sunroom--all with breathtaking views of the lake. Presidents Harding and Coolidge stayed at Lake Hotel during
their respective visits to Yellowstone.
But economic difficulties forced a depression-era closing of the hotel, and by 1948 it was known locally as "Bat Alley."
The decades of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s saw further decline and serious disrepair. This writer stayed in one of the
rooms before renovations, and found it very plain and drafty, with four unremarkable painted walls and an
uncomfortable, lumpy, squeaky metal twin bed.
In 1981, the National Park Service and the park concessionaire, TW Recreational Services, began a ten-year project to
restore the Lake Hotel to its former elegance of the 1920s. The work was completed in time for the hotel's 100th
anniversary in 1991, and Lake Yellowstone Hotel is now once again an elegant showplace. On May 16, 1991, it was
placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
(1) National Park Service, Yellowstone National Park Official Home Page
(2) Janet Chapple, Yellowstone Treasures (Granite Peak Publications, Providence, RI, 2001).
(3) Richard A. Bartlett, Yellowstone: A Wilderness Besieged (University of Arizona Press, AZ, 1989).
(4) Lee H. Whittlesey and the Yellowstone Staff, A Yellowstone Album (Roberts-Rinehart, Boulder, 1997).