One later improvement might have helped save the Inn from
destruction. In 1987: a sprinkler system was installed to
cascade water over the Inn's roofs in case of fire. When the
North Fork fire threatened the Inn on September 7, 1988, this
sprinkler system did its part to help in the firefighting effort by
discouraging alighting hot embers from catching the wooden
shingled roof on fire.
Today's guests can still enjoy dinner in the old dining
hall. Though dancing is no longer a regular after-dinner
activity, on most evenings there is a piano player at the
grand piano in the lobby, playing classical or popular
music. It is not unusual, as the evening wears on, to
have a small group gather near the piano and start a
sing-along that infectiously carries throughout the lobby.
On cool evenings there is often a fire in the great stone
fireplace with of row of travel-weary tourists napping or
rocking gently in front of it.
|(right) Haynes postcard,
showing the Old
Faithful Inn as it looked
soon after opening in
|REFERENCES AND RECOMMENDED READING
Richard A. Bartlett, Yellowstone: A Wilderness Besieged (University of Arizona Press, Tucson, AZ, 1989).
Aubrey L. Haines, The Yellowstone Story (University Press of Colorado, Niwot, CO, 1977), Vols. 1 and 2.
Dorothy K. Hilburn, The Old Faithful Inn: A National Historical Landmark (Canyonlands Publications,
Bellemont, AZ, 1997).
Library of Congress, American Memory Collection, "Pilgrimage of Mary Commandery No. 36, Knights
Templar of Pennsylvania to the Twenty-Ninth Triennial Conclave of the Grand Encampment U.S. at San
Francisco, California", Part 5, Sunday, August 28, 1904 (http://memory.loc.gov).
Outside Magazine, Summer Special Issue: "Greetings from Yellowstone!", August 1990, p. 69.
Gwen Petersen, Yellowstone Pioneers: The Story of the Hamilton Stores and Yellowstone National Park (Oak
Tree Publications, San Diego, CA, 1985).
Susan C. Scofield (with Jeremy C. Schmidt), The Inn at Old Faithful (Crowsnest Associates, 1979).
Lee H. Whittlesey and the Yellowstone staff, managing editor Marsha Karle, A Yellowstone Album (Roberts
Rinehart Publishers, Boulder, CO, 1997).
Christine Barnes, Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone National Park (W.W. West Inc., Bend, OR, 2001).
Megan McCullen, in Proceedings of the 6th Biennial Scientific Conference on the Greater Yellowstone
Ecosystem, 2001 (Yellowstone Center for Resources and the George Wright Society, Yellowstone).
Additional information from Xanterra and the National Park Service.
|GO TO INN HISTORY 1 2 3 4 5
This preservation crew, which has been in operation since 1991, continually trains
in proper techniques and use of vintage tools. While meeting today's standards, the
crew remains faithful to preserving original designs. When a project is completed,
the team compiles a "task completion workbook" which includes "photos of the job
before, during, and after it is done along with documentation of materials used and
procedures performed." These reports are then added to a computer database for
In October 2004 a major renovation of the Old Faithful Inn was begun that will
continue without interruption into 2007. When all is done the Inn will be earthquake
proof and structurally ready for another 100 years of service. Outdated electrical and
heating systems will be replaced and made less conspicuous, and new flooring,
roofing, and shingles will be added. The end appearance of the interior will actually
be closer to what the earliest visitors would have seen. (For details and photos of
the Old Faithful Inn restoration, click here).
Some still complain about what they consider to be
wholly inadequate accommodations. But to the great
credit of those in charge over the years, they have
politely consoled these ruffled guests and resisted the
pressure to modernize these oldest rooms. Instead,
they have recognize the rare jewel that is the Old
There are also chairs lining the two balconies, where guests can prop their feet on log rails and look down to the activity on the
lobby floor below or up at the great log structure that rises before them. Some guests play cards, while others enjoy a mixed drink
sometimes cold hallway to a shower, and needing to
find a public phone booth if they are without a cell
phone and have a call to make. After the renovations
are completed, a small part of this experience will be
lost as radiators will operate more quietly,
soundproofing will be added between walls, and
flooring should be less creaky. But much of the
atmosphere will remain.
or cup of coffee or hot cider. Antique writing desks with built-in tinted glass shades
are available on the second and third floor balconies, and are frequently used for
writing postcards or catching up on a little reading while enjoying the atmosphere
of the Inn. A door exits the second floor lobby to an observation deck atop the porte
cochere, where guests can sit in a protected outside areaand watch Old Faithful in
this relaxed setting. Most of these activities are not much different from those
enjoyed by the first guests in 1904. Each generation now finds at the Old Faithful
Inn the chance to experience one or more evenings without modern "necessities."
They often find this simplicity, if only briefly, to be a refreshing diversion--and
possibly among their fondest memories of their their trip to Yellowstone National
In 1987 the Old Faithful Inn was designated a National
Historic Landmark, with the following statement of
significance: "The first building in a National Park constructed
in an architectural style harmonious with the grandeur of the
surrounding landscape. Reflects Adirondack Rustic
architectural idiom, but blown up to enormous proportions. Its
seven-story high log lobby is unique in American architecture.
Created with gnarled logs and rough sawn wood for the
Northern Pacific Railroad, it has a sense of place as
identifiable as the Park itself."
Old Faithful Inn History
|IN AUGUST 1959, a major earthquake tumbled a massive stone chimney
through the floor of the Old Faithul Inn's dining room and forced many
frightened (though unharmed) guests to stay in their cars and busses during
the night. 1960 chrome postcard (Lauretta Studios, Butte, MT)
Old Faithful Inn and opened the doors to its second century on Friday, May 7, 2004, with an entourage of mounted park rangers and
historic vehicles beginning their procession up the front road to the Inn and on to the porte cochere. Afterwards, hundreds of well
wishers moved into the lobby area in front of the fireplace and lined the balconies of the second and third floors for opening
ceremonies. (For details and photos of the Old Faithful Inn centennial, click here.)
PRESERVING THE OLD FAITHFUL INN
Although wood does not rot easily in this mountain environment, in Yellowstone, where time and severe weather can take its toll on
all man-made structures, there has been an ongoing need for reshingling, restaining, carpentry and masonry repairs, reglazing, and
reroofing. A skilled restoration team is on hand to repair and replace as needed.
Some present-day guests are completely unprepared for the experience of staying in these oldest rooms. They make reservations
many months in advance and travel across the country staying in comfortable accommodations, suddenly to find themselves in a
room with no bathroom or phone, with creaky floors, radiators that clank when they are first turned on as if they are being struck with
wrenches, and that hiss all night as they let off steam (all normal radiator behavior). These guests find themselves walking down the
|The Old Faithful Inn narrowly escaped destruction
by the raging North Fork Fire on September 7,
1988. To discourage alighting sparks from taking
hold, the wood shingled roof is soaked shortly
before the fire swept through. NPS
|It was a beautiful spring day in Yellowstone on May 7, 2004 as attendees gather for
the Old Faithful Inn's 100th anniversary ceremonies.
Photo: F. Markley
|(left) A major renovation of the Old Faithful Inn is
under way that is intended to stabilize the
structure and allow it to last another 100 years,
while maintaining its historic
integrity. Photo: F. Markley