Mammoth Hotel (National Hotel) - top postcard (Haynes pre-WW I era)
Park Stage at Mammoth Hot Springs - bottom postcard (Detroit Publishing)
In Yellowstone National Park's early years, the National Hotel at Mammoth, shown in this postcard and the postcard at the
bottom of the page, was the first overnight stop for visitors arriving by stage from the north entrance train depot at Gardiner,
and their last overnight stop before departing. This Queen Anne style structure was designed by L. F. Buffington,
sometimes called the father of the modern skyscraper. Construction began in 1883, and 250 rooms were planned. When
President Chester Arthur visited Yellowstone in 1883 he ate a meal at the half-finished hotel. The following year, unpaid
workers took over the building, living on park game until their strike was settled. Though originally known as the National
Hotel, by the late 1880s it was being called the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel.
This imposing facility was luxurious for its day, with such comforts as electricity (including outdoor street lights), a
full-length veranda, a barber shop, a kitchen range "that can accommodate 15 cooks and feed 9,000 tourists," two billiard
tables, a large Steinway piano, and a barroom. One visitor called the hotel ". . . simply the most remarkable product of
civilization in my experience." An enjoyable dinner was held here for President Theodore Roosevelt and 200 guests on the
last evening of his April 1903 visit to Yellowstone.
Not everyone was impressed, however. Rudyard Kipling observed the following in 1889: ". . . the ground rings hollow as
a kerosene-tin, and some day the Mammoth Hotel, guests and all, will sink into the caverns and be turned into a stalactite."
Although the hotel appeared solid and massive from the front, it was actually rather poorly constructed, and because of its
narrow width (only 54 ft in contrast to its long length of 414 ft), did not provide as many rooms as it might appear.
In 1913 the old National Hotel was remodeled by architect Robert Reamer, who replaced fourth floor gables with a flat
roof and added a wing at an angle to the aging building for stability (on the right side of the building as one would view it in
this postcard). As a result, an additional 124 guest rooms were added.
With dropping visitation at the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel due to an increasing number of motorists who often stayed at
cabins, autocamps, or other facilities within the park, all of the hotel except for the 1913 wing was torn down in 1936. At that
time the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel as we now know it took shape under the direction of Robert Reamer. All of the guest
rooms in the present hotel are in what was the 1913 wing. To this wing, the lobby/registration desk and map room were
added; and at the same time the present dining room building was built on the western portion of the old National Hotel
foundation (the left part as seen in the postcard above).
The original structure as seen in this postcard extended from the end wall of what is now the hotel map room to the end
wall of what is now the fast food dining area at Mammoth.
Richard A. Bartlett, Yellowstone: A Wilderness Besieged.
Lee H. Whittlesey and the Yellowstone staff, managing editor Marsha Karle, A Yellowstone Album.
Winfred Blevins, Roadside History of Yellowstone National Park.
Randy Ingersoll and Xanterra.
from John L. Stoddard's Lectures, 1898
At length a sudden turn revealed to us our first halting-place within the Park,--the Mammoth Springs Hotel. The
structure in itself looked mammoth as we approached it, for its portico exceeds four hundred feet in length. Our
first impressions were agreeable. Porters rushed forth and helped us to alight, and on the piazza the manager
received us cordially. Everything had the air of an established summer resort. This, I confess, surprised me
greatly, as I had expected primitive accommodations, and supposed that, though the days of camping-out had
largely passed away, the resting-places of the park were will so crude that one would be glad to leave them. But
I lingered there with pleasure long after all the wonders of the park had been beheld. The furniture, though
simple, is sufficient; . . . the sleeping-rooms are scrupulously clean; soft blankets, snow-white sheets, and
comfortable beds assure a good night's rest; and . . . steam heat, a bell-boy service, and electric lights make us
forget our distance from great cities and the haunts of men.