Yellowstone Notebook Booklist
(Scroll down for other titles.)
THE NIGHT THE MOUNTAIN FELL, by Edmund Christopherson (Yellowstone Publications, West Yellowstone, Montana, 1962).
At 11:37PM on the night of Monday, August 17, 1959, an earthquake measuring 7.5 on the Richter scale occurred near West
Yellowstone, Montana. In less than a minute, the entire side of a mountain collapsed, sending a deadly landslide into the narrow
canyon below, blocking the Madison River and causing it to form what is now Earthquake Lake. The slide buried several campers at
a popular campground. Fierce winds rushed through the canyon, capable of shredding clothes from those in its path and sweeping
away an adult male. The earthquake crumbled roads up to and in Yellowstone National Park. At the Old Faithful Inn, a massive
stone chimney fell through the roof into the fortunately unoccupied dining hall, and guests were forced to spend the rest of the night
in their cars or busses. In the end 28 people were killed. Those who survived in that dark narrow canyon were left stranded,
emergency personnel unable to reach them, and forced to endure a cold, nightmarish night of repeated earth tremors and fears for
the well being of missing friends and relatives.
The details of this disaster are carefully told in The Night the Mountain Fell. The author came to the West Yellowstone area the day
after the earthquake, interviewed survivors and others familiar with details of the event, and visited the scene of the Madison
landslide in the following days. In the book he follows the effects of this chain of events on the lives of survivors as well as victims,
recounts the life-saving efforts of emergency personnel, and describes in detail the sequence of events. The result is an
engrossing account that is enhanced with many black-and-white photographs of the people and places involved as well as maps
pinpointing exact locations. The author's in-depth treatment of the human side of these events lifts the book beyond a simple
reporting of the facts.
Today, such a natural disaster in a high profile area such as Yellowstone in the middle of the tourist season would undoubtedly be
covered live via satellite on Fox News and CNN, analyzed by countless experts on talk shows, discussed extensively on the Internet,
and fill the covers and pages of news weeklies with accounts of the tragedy. We would be immersed with photos and profiles of its
victims and survivors, and look back at each major anniversary to see the progress of recovery. Yet today, the average Yellowstone
tourist is likely to be unaware of this tragic event. It was a different era in 1959. Perhaps because the means of instant coverage and
the mass audience for in-depth analysis were not fully developed, literature on this natural disaster is lacking. The Night the
Mountain Fell is one of the few thoroughly researched books available today on the Yellowstone earthquake of 1959.
The Night the Mountain Fell (subtitled The Story of the Montana-Yellowstone Earthquake) is 88 pages long, and is available in
paperback in Yellowstone and West Yellowstone gift shops and bookstores, or through the publisher at Yellowstone Publications /
Box 411 / West Yellowstone, Montana 59758.
SEARCHING FOR YELLOWSTONE, by Paul Schullery (Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 1997)
Paul Schullery is a well-respected Yellowstone author and editor who has worked in the park as a ranger-naturalist, park historian,
and chief of cultural resources. In 1997 he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters from Montana State University in recognition
of his contributions. His book Searching for Yellowstone presents a refreshing "environmental history" of Yellowstone. Schullery
takes the reader back to the earliest prehistoric inhabitants of the area, through its "discovery" by the white man, and on to the
ensuing flow of tourists to the park from the earliest days to the present. This book carefully explains the complexities of many of the
issues that have surrounded Yellowstone since its beginning. Among the many topics presented, the book discusses the
controversies surrounding Yellowstone's elk and buffalo herds, its bear population, the fires of 1988, reintroduction of the wolf, the
introduction of nonnative species, and the problems of being a park whose popularity threatens its well being. All are difficult topics
to tackle, but the author is up to the task, calling upon his background and the available Yellowstone literature, fully documented in
the notes section at the back of the book. Through it all there is little lecturing or attempt to present an agenda, but instead an
explanation of how these problems have developed over the years, and how they have been handled or mishandled. There is
something new to learn for any reader regardless of degree of familiarity with Yellowstone. Searching for Yellowstone is 338 pages
long and includes several black and white historical photographs.
WITH GOD IN THE YELLOWSTONE, by Alma White (Pillar of Fire Books, Zarephath, New Jersey, 1920).
You might have seen this title during searches of old Yellowstone books on the Web or at your library. Although I would not put this
book at the top of the reading list or necessarily recommend it to most readers, I have included it here because it might interest
some (as it did me) with its description of a 5-day package coach tour of Yellowstone in 1919, and because of the author's unique
take on Yellowstone.
Alma White, the author of the book, was an evangelist who founded several Bible schools and academies in the eastern and
western United States. Her purpose in writing this book was to recount a tour of Yellowstone she took with her brother and his wife,
and in so doing add occasional Biblical thoughts inspired by the wonders she found. In truth, the book contains more descriptions
of the individual features of Yellowstone than preaching. Of interest to some might be the author's reactions to the touring
experience. Starting in Cody, she encountered a speeding tour bus driver who flirtatiously allowed two young women to have her
comfortable "shotgun" seat in the front. Not a good move. Once in the park, the author found Inspiration Point so inspiring she grew
faint and had to hold on to the rail on the way back to the car (but was unimpressed with Artist Point). And of Mt. Washburn, she
wrote "While other members of our party wanted to go to the summit . . . I did not care to tax my nerves on such a trip." (Nor did she
care to join them on some of the other adventures of the tour, including, not surprisingly, a search for the "Devil's Kitchen.") One
wonders how her brother and sister-in-law felt about being with her on the tour. Included in the first 7 chapters are descriptions of
Canyon, Mammoth, Norris, Upper Geyser Basin, and Thumb Basin, among other points of interest. The 8th and 9th chapters are
devoted to scriptural pages supporting the author's belief that Hell itself is found in the fiery core of the earth that lies below the
geysers and hot springs, and that at Yellowstone "ten thousand omens are heralding the winding-up of this age."
In addition to the scriptural associations, the author finds in Yellowstone great beauty and wonder, adding "It should be a matter of
much interest and satisfaction to Americans that our government has the custody of the Yellowstone--then man with all his selfish
interest is prohibited from laying claim to anything within its boundaries." With God in the Yellowstone is a fairly quick-reading small
volume, 137 pages long and supplemented with dozens of black and white photos, mostly by Haynes.
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A YELLOWSTONE ALBUM: A Photographic Celebration of the First National Park, commentary by Lee H. Whittlesey and the
Yellowstone Staff; Marsha Karle, managing editor (Roberts Rinehart Publishers, Boulder, CO, 1997)
In honor of Yellowstone's 125th anniversary in 1997, this compilation of photographs was assembled from the park's museum
collections. A Yellowstone Album is, as described in the introduction by (then) Superintendent Michael V. Finley, "the foremost
photographic celebration of Yellowstone's rich and eventful history ever published." The book is divided into six chapters: First
Glimpses (photos that brought Yellowstone to the attention of the world), Wonderland Hospitality (area-by-area historic views of
tourist accommodations), America at Play (includes park transportation over the years, popular visitor activities, presidential visits),
The Spirit of the Ranger (ranger stations, notable rangers, evolution of ranger duties and activities), The World's Yellowstone
(challenges confronting the park today and into the future), and A Thousand Wonders (photographs of the parks natural attractions
and wildlife). Each page is filled with black and white photographs of various sizes, many not commonly seen in previous
publications. Accompanying each photograph is a descriptive paragraph. The book would stand on its own as a collection of
photographs, but the historical commentary adds a wealth of factual information that should be of interest to almost any reader
regardless of familiarity with Yellowstone's history.
A Yellowstone Album is 208 pages long and measures 10" X 9-7/8". All photographs are in black and white.
TRAVELS IN THE GREATER YELLOWSTONE by Jack Turner (Thomas Dunne Books - St. Martin's Press, New York, 2008).
Jack Turner, the author of Travels in the Greater Yellowstone, has lived in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem for over 40 years,
becoming intimately familiar with the area through a number of roles, now including mountain guide and educator. His writing style
is refreshingly polished and literate, and this book is organized into a series of 12 essays taking place in all seasons, early spring
to winter, each trek or adventure--hiking, skiing, floating, climbing, canoeing, driving--being pleasantly conversational in tone as if
the reader is along as a companion. With him on many of these trips are his friends and acquaintances, also well versed in the
outdoors and the area, and sometimes his wife Dana and/or their dog, Rio. There is a central theme that runs throughout this book,
and it is Turner's take on the conflict between preservation and development and man's impact on the ecosystem. He is decidedly
opinionated in his views and he backs up his opinions with a blend of observations he has made over the years along with facts
and statistics from reputable sources (a bibliography is included at the back of the book), and an occasional slash of philosophy.
Rather than being a series of essays of travels exclusively in Yellowstone Park, this book explores a variety of areas within the
ecosystem such as the Teton range and the South Fork of the Snake River, as suggested in the 12 essay titles: The View from
Blacktail Butte; Opening day on the Firehole River; Modern Wolves; Alpine Tundra: The First Domino; The South Fork; The Wyoming
Range; The Deep Winds; Green River Lakes; Chasing Cutts; Grizzly Bear Heaven; Red Rock Lakes; Christmas at Old Faithful.
There is a discussion of fly fishing that gives one almost a spiritual sense of the sport and an appreciation of the nuances such as
the subtleties of coloration of the various species. Some might find the book a bit didactic, but this reviewer did not find that to be a
distraction, and in fact the book comes off as informative and believable, based on the author's rich experience and depth of
conviction. The essays were uniformly all about the right length to be read comfortably at a setting. One can learn much from this
book about the Yellowstone ecosystem, its journey to this point, and where it is heading, and comes to realize the essential
interplay of the entire ecosystem and how the park itself can suffer, even irretrievably so, when the health of the ecosystem is in
peril. Travels in the Greater Yellowstone is 271 pages long, including bibliography , and measures 6" x 8-1/2".
|May you live to visit, enjoy, and remember the Yellowstone National Park. I dip my pen in ink to-night with a
keen sense of the audacity of an effort to continue my feeble description of its beauties.
Mary Bradshaw Richards CAMPING OUT IN THE YELLOWSTONE, 1882