tv Megan Kate Nelson Saving Yellowstone CSPAN May 15, 2022 5:55pm-7:31pm EDT
megan kate nelson is a writer and historian living in lincoln, massachusetts. she has written about civil war us western history and american culture for the new york times the washington post smithsonian magazine preservation magazine and civil war monitor nelson earned her va in history and literature from the harvard university from harvard university and her phd in american studies from the university of iowa, and she has taught at texas tech university cal state fullerton harvard and brown nelson is the author of saving yellowstone three cornered war ruin nation and trembling earth and we're so
excited to have her with us today. so before i turn it over to her just a quick note we have sent out an email to everyone this morning that had just a great list of resources like a bibliography that megan had put together so you all should have received that by now. if not that link is posted in the chat. so that please join me in welcoming megan kate nelson. hi everyone. thank you so much. thank you nicole for that lovely introduction and to the smithsonian associates for the invitation to be with you tonight. i would also like to thank harmony and ellen and steve and anna and liz for running this show and to helping me get all the the tech straight. i cannot think of a better place for me to talk about saving yellowstone then at the smithsonian as you will learn tonight, the institution played a really important role in both the exploration and the preservation of this iconic
national landscape. so, thank you all for being with me tonight as nicole noted. there will be a q&a after the talk, so please. i feel free to ask questions along the way and we'll get to as many of those questions as we can by the end. so in mid july. 1871 a 22 year old university of pennsylvania graduate student named robert adams scrambled down from the rim of the grand canyon of the yellowstone to the precipice of the lower falls. creeping to the edge of an overhanging cliff adams wrote later to the philadelphia inquirer. we gazed below till dizziness made us withdraw. oh it was grand sublime a site. never to be forgotten. on his climb back up to the rim adams pulled a handful of drummond's rush out of the ground a common site along river
banks in alpine areas of the mountain west this flowering plant grew in large clusters. it's a brown yellow and purple red flowers waving in the breeze. adams was the botanist on the yellowstone expedition of 1871 and he had been collecting plants and flowers throughout the team's trip from omaha, nebraska to the middle of the yellowstone basin. when he got back to camp from the lower falls adams pressed the stems of the drummonds rush between sheets of paper and pulled a label out of his satchel on it. he wrote out of he wrote out the name of the specimen the date he collected it and the location and then he signed it. he placed the sheets with the label attached in a box with hundreds of other botanical specimens to be sent first by wagon then by train to the smithsonian institution in washington, dc. the samples of drummonds rush, which you see here on the slide now sit in a folder stacked in a cabinet at the national museum of natural history. they are fragments of the us
western flora that are archived in the east they are also material evidence of ferdinand hayden's expedition of 1871 the first scientific exploration of yellowstone, which led to the passage of the yellowstone act in 1872 creating the first national park in the world 150 years ago. in my new book saving yellowstone. i tell the story of hayden's expedition and i interweave this story with two other narratives the narrative of capital investment in the white settlement of the west and the story of indigenous resistance to those efforts of government officials us soldiers businessmen and scientists to take their homelands from them. so in this moment in 1871 72 yellowstone really became an iconic landsc. in america, it also became a metaphor for the nation itself a place. that was both beautiful and terrible.
so the question that i always get are always want to ask of people in the audience is when did you go first to yellowstone or have you been there? so we have a quiz for you an audience poll. i'm interested to see how many of you have have actually been there and if you have visited the park, when was your trip, did you go as a child? did you go as an adult with your own children? was it recently or was it really really long ago as you can see from these slides my first trip was long ago in july of 1982 almost 40 years ago. now these are pictures from our family trip when i started to write the book. i i had my father go into the garage and dig out the slides from that trip and i sent them off to be converted to jpegs and it was great fun to look at them when they arrived so, you know this family vac.
in was pretty incredible. yellowstone was really our first stop. we went there from glacier and then to calgary and came all the way back around over the course of two weeks and you know, these family trips we started taking these two-week summer vacations and they really shaped me as a historian of american landscapes. so here we have the results of the poll. so 96% of you have been there that's amazing. that is a really large number because even today yellowstone is quite hard to get to and so you really have to try you you can't just be wandering by on the way to somewhere else. so that's really great and it looks like an even share of people who went as children went as adults and looks like about a third of you have been in the past five years. so that's great. that's great. this was my first trip and actually my second trip was just this past september i was supposed to go in may of 20. a for my first research trip for
the book. and of course the pandemic scuttled those plans, unfortunately, and and this was really a bummer for me because i like to go to the places that i study and that i research i'd like to be in the landscape not necessarily to kind of feel a sense of history or anything like that but to actually see the landscape and experience it as people in the past may have experienced it even though of course there has been natural change over time. it is not exactly the same but i like to be there so that i can understand what the people i'm writing about kind of saw and what they experienced and and these family trips. we're really important to me too. they i learned to love history by moving through space finding us finding us on maps bound into the rand mcnally road atlas if those are people in the audience who remember that i love a good road atlas and tracking us as as we drove along. so it really isn't a surprise
that when i became a historian, i was really drawn to environmental history and to landscape studies. so when i really started thinking about yellowstone when i was writing the three corner war. um, which was my previous book there is a protagonist in that book who is a surveyor general of new mexico. territory guy named john clark who's a friend of lincoln's the republican appointee in the 1860s, and this led me to some background research in the history of surveying in america and i ran across the hayden expedition of 1871 and i remembered it because i'd actually studied it and graduate school in a class in art history and we'll see why a little bit later in the talk why that would have been something that i would have studied in that context. i realized and this was about 2018. i realized we were coming up on
the 150th anniversary of both the expedition and the passage of the yellowstone act which was a direct result of that expedition and you know for historians and i think for a lot of us anniversaries are really important moments for us to really take stock events and a places. why events occurred why places became important in the way that they did in the past and then how they're important today and really kind of reckon with that and with the place that these places hold in our society, so so that was an important element and so i started to kind of look around and see what had been written on hayden's expedition and you know, a lot of great books have been written about it and written about that survey written about the other great surveys that were out at the time which i'll talk about in a second a lot of great books have also been published about the long history of yellowstone. particularly aubrey haynes's magisterial two volume history,
and if i know i sent out a list of sources for you to look at but there's also a full bibliography in the book itself. so if you pick up the book, there's a whole list of sources that you can look at both primary documents and also secondary sources that can give you a better sense of this per said but it really surprised me that no one had really looked in-depth at the effort to explore and preserve yellowstone in its historical context because what i also realized is that this survey and the passage of the yellowstone actor happening in 1871 and 72 which are right in the middle of reconstruction. which is not a period that we think of as you know taking place in the west or having anything to do with the west so that became really interesting to me. and so i just you know, i had just written a book that. looked at the the civil war from
a really unexpected place the far west and so i began to think well what if i looked at reconstruction from yellowstone, would i come to know reconstruction differently, would i learn something new about it by looking at it from the geyser basins and the lower falls or from the grand prismatic spring as in this slide, which will be familiar to almost all of you as you have been there and would i learned something new about yellowstone itself, but thinking about it in the context of reconstruction. so first before i get to the the kind of nitty-gritty of hayden and his expedition i wanted to give you just a little bit of background and reconstruction history because this is a period it's getting a little more attention today. but really, i mean i know when i was in school we kind of went through it really quickly on the way from the civil war to the gilded age and didn't really study it a lot in depth and it really is an important informative moment in our
nation's history and it deserves more attention. so after the civil war you know there were many challenges facing the us government and all americans. you know, how does a nation recover from four years of violent conflict of just incalculable loss of life of farms and cities and railroads how to form million people transition from a life of enslavement to a life of freedom. so there were so many challenges that were economic challenges political challenges and of course cultural challenges in this moment one of the challenges of course was stabilizing the national economy in the south many of the factories and the railroad railroad lines have been destroyed and had to be rebuilt this required really northern capital investment because most of the base of southern capital from before the war which constituted which was constituted by enslaved human beings did not exist anymore
emancipation created an entirely new system of free labor and agriculture. and there was a whole turn in that context to sharecropping to debt p&h a whole system of indebtedness that really sustained cycles of poverty for black southerners and some white southerners in the years after the war and for the years to come. the north was in a little better shape as was the west manufacturing and agriculture had really boomed during the war but still did not regain really pre-war pace of output until the mid 1870s. so there was that big challenge of how do we get the economy back on track? how do we get people into professions and earning money and supporting their families again after this destructive civil war? another challenge was how to bring the former confederate states back into the union. the reconstruction congress had passed a series of laws requiring revamped state
constitutions for re-entry. the states had to pass depending on when they were applying to return the 13th the 14th and ultimately the 15th amendments each state had to hold free and fair elections to bring their new representatives to washington dc to be seated in congress and by 1870. this process was mostly complete all the former confederate states were back in the union. they had seeded members in congress on the majority of them were republicans because former confederates who are often democrats, we're not allowed to hold office during this period all of these programs faced resistance from a lot of different areas from andrew johnson who had taken over the presidency after the assassination of abraham lincoln. he expressed his objections pretty early on and his desire to implement a kind of kinder and gentler reconstruction in the south. he used his veto power to try to derail radical reconstruction projects, and he did not succeed
and his resistance led to his impeachment trial in the spring of 1868. there was also a widespread resistance from many white southerners who almost immediately upon their return from the battlefields and the return to peace tried to reassert their power over black americans through the passage of black codes, which restricted behavior and labor and other repressive measures as well as vigilante violence through organizations, like the ku klux klan which really emerged in a strong way in 1868 and the years afterward. there's also a great a great deal of resistance from democrats from across the nation. it's important to remember that in this period democrats and republicans have the sort of opposite ideologies as they have today democrats were opposed to the republican parties use of federal power to secure black rights, although they were more amenable to using this power to expand white settlement into the
west and we'll get into to more of that later. so things began to change a little bit when ulysses s grant was elected in 1868. grant had been a career military man who quit the army in the years before the civil war floundered around a bit trying to find his way before rejoining the military during the civil war and here he found his real talent, which was planning military campaigns and leading men into battle after the war. he served as the general of the armies for johnson profoundly disagreed with johnson on most matters involving reconstruction and really wanted to honor abraham lincoln who is a friend of his and whose vision for the future of the south for black equality and black voting. he did support. he also wanted to honor the sacrifice of so many of the us soldiers who had fought for the
union, you know, who he had led into battle and who had died under his watch. he was having none of it from the white southerners. he was had very little tolerance for them. very little sympathy for them. he saw their resistance to federal measures and to the 14th and 15th amendments as a renewed rebellion against the federal government and that shaped really his response, but he was elected with this campaign slogan, which you can see on this commemorative handkerchief here. let us have peace and he really did want to bring the south back into the nation, but he did want to ensure that all the citizens of the south were equal in that effort. he also uh meant let us have peace to apply to the west. so this was an interesting sort of two-pronged approach that he
and his administration took supported by congress during this period, you know one big question for grant was how to provide and protect civil rights for more than four million freed people across the south how to make sure that states were protecting their citizens and protecting their their 14th and 15th amendment rights, particularly the 14th amendment which was passed in june of 1866 ratified in 1868 and affirming the citizenship citizen citizenship status and civil rights of all people born or naturalized in the united states. there was a qualifier to that though, that becomes really important during this period we have a parenthetical there that says accept indians on taxed. that's the quote and that is an important omission because most white americans including ulysses s. grant did not believe that native people were citizens or really could be citizens if they
continue to live in their traditional ways, so in this moment there is interest in both the south and the west and to this end grant made two, very interesting and progressive appointments in his first term. the first was the appointment of ely parker as commissioner of indian affairs. some of you may be familiar with parker if you know a fair bit about the civil war he was on grant's staff. he is he's a seneca man of great education and experience had come to know grant in galena before the war and grant really appreciated his intelligence and also his penmanship. he was the one who wrote out the surrender documents for grant and lee at appomattox. so grant really wanted to bring elie parker in to the bureau of indian affairs, and he did so in
1869. he also appointed amos ackerman as his attorney general. ackerman was a really interesting figure. he was a georgian. he was a former confederate officer, but he was a man who having returned from the war actually embraced radical reconstruction believed that the south needed to kind of move into the future and provide equality for all citizens, and he came into the grant administration in 1870. so both grant and congress made decisions in this period to exert federal power in the south and the west helped by ely parker and amos ackerman in the south ackerman directed a newly created department of justice effort to prosecute the ku klux klan in south carolina in the fall of 18 and 71 and he really encouraged grant toward taking very strong action particularly the in south carolina where kkk
violence was very bad. probably the worst in the nation. so in october of 1871, but the power given to him by the kkk act passed by congress in the spring grant suspended the writ of habeas corpus in multiple counties in south carolina, so that officials could arrest clan members immediately and keep them in jail until they were prosecuted and from november 1871 to april 1872 us attorneys tried hundreds of clan members. charging them with conspiracy to violate the 14th and 15th amendment rights of black southerners most of these cases were successful and many clan members were sent to jail now. i should know that most of these members were the rank and file the leadership of the kkk the minute that grant started making noise. about potential arrests fled the country or flood the state and they could not be found and arrested.
so the kkk trials were really a high-water mark for republicans and for the federal government during reconstruction and in the 19th century in asserting federal supremacy to really protect the rights of the nation's most vulnerable citizens black americans would not receive this kind of protection from the federal government again until the 1960s. in the west ely parker had sort of an interesting vision for native citizenship and representation that he shared with grant and sort of pushed him to embrace and grant was pretty amenable parker was an assimilationist which meant that he argued for the abandonment of indigenous traditions and the embrace of christianity the english language individual land ownership and other markers of american civilization, but he also imagined gathering indigenous peoples into one or two large reservations.
that would become territories and then admitted to the union as states. so that indigenous peoples would have consistent representation in congress. this was a completely novel idea at the time and i think in the years since then as well grant was on board until parker resigned in the summer of 1871 and kind of stopped pushing him toward this goal. there was no congressional support among republicans or democrats for this vision for ely parker himself the 14th amendment as i noted before denied the rights of citizens citizenship to most native peoples during this period and it really was at this point in the early 1870s that federal indian policy began to shift in march of 1871 congress inserted a writer into an indian appropriation act.
basically stating that there would be no more treaties made between the federal government and native nations that congress would abide by the treaties already made up to that point a particularly the fort laramie treaty was very big treaty of the 1868. however from this point forward they would no longer actually establish treaty relations, which meant that they would no longer recognize native sovereignty. they would try to make peace agreements, but from this point forward the government would use military force as a first resort and stuck instead of a second or third resort and this is a moment where we really see us army campaigns against native peoples start to escalate in order to pave the way in the west for white settlement. the goal was to force native peoples on to reservations and then reduce the size of those reservations to sell the remaining land off to white settlers. so there were other national projects that were underway at
this time that had this same goal to establish white settlers in the west and bring the west more fully into the union politically economically and culturally one of those was the transcontinental railroad, which was actually a civil war action that was passed in 1862 a completed in 1869 and you can see this very famous photo here of the moment when the the two lines which were being built from either end the west in the east connected in utah, and this was seen as a grand technological achievement that would unite the nation americans had been dreaming about a transcontinental line since the 1840s and saw it as the basis for american manifest destiny also included in this vision were the great surveys of the 18 late 1860s and early 1970s now the federal government had been launching surveys of its land
since its creation in the 18th century and especially after lewis and clark's expedition to the pacific in 1804 through 1806. many of these are loose survey teams were led by us military officials, but there was a turn in the 1850s the late 1850s after great land sessions. of america's war of conquest in mexico and then after the civil war to a civilian leadership of surveys with military protection. surveyors in this time period were really kind of freelance operators. they went every year in the winter to congress lobbied them for money to take teams out in the spring and summer they were instructed to evaluate the lands from the pacific to the missouri river and to determine their potential use for agriculture for ranching for mining and other forms of development and
when they returned they had to report everything that they had found along these lines produce maps and publisher report for the federal government. so these surveys were really meant as engines of conquest and the white settlement of the west they were not in this moment focused on land preservation. but at this time too americans were really searching for iconic landscapes to feel good about the country to convince them of the countries exceptionalism. and i think this is is quite a common instinct, especially either in the midst or in the wake of kind of very chaotic and destructive moments in our american history. i was writing about this very issue just as the mars perseverance project was happening and the rover landed successfully on mars in february
of 2021 and i felt like that was a similar situation, you know in the middle of the pandemic or just having a terrible time and here is this amazing scientific achievement. here is a moment where people have engaged in this pursuit that actually succeeded and now we have a rover on mars and i just remember feeling really uplifted by that and americans were searching for that feeling in this moment. and so this is the great era of kind of the emergence of illustrated magazines that are producing content for middle class americans, you know, helping them to understand the country and to feel good about it. this is also are of the great american landscape painters albert bierstadt frederick edwin church. we'll talk about thomas moran here in a minute producing these really huge landscape paintings of the american west of niagara falls helping to create a sense that america was really nature's
nation. maybe, you know america didn't have the ruins of european civilization to show its long long history, but america had niagara and yosemite and now yellowstone amazing natural wonders that prove that the united states had a long and distinguished history. so this was the context in which ferdinand hayden organized his scientific expedition to yellowstone. so here is a photograph of him here born into poverty a child of divorce unlike many scientists of the period who came from elite families hayden really lived a hard scrabble life and it made him really scrappy. he was ambitious. he was competitive sometimes so much so that that his colleagues really came to dislike him, but his family could have figured out that he was really smart and managed to send him to oberlin
college and that's where he discovered a love of science in the early 1850s. he also discovered that he had a talent for collecting and identifying fossils. and this was really interesting to me that you would have such a talent, but apparently it is quite hard to go and kind of look at a rocky outcropping spot fossils in it and immediately understand how significant they are to geologists in answering some of the most important questions of the day, which were about how old the earth really was and how it actually evolved and the fossil record was helping scientists in this moment to determine that so hayden found out he had a talent for it. plus he really relished the idea of being in on all of these big conversations about the earth and it's evolution. so he joined several
military-led expeditions in the 1850s and 1860s. finally led his own survey as a civilian in 1867 for the new state of nebraska and he began to envision for himself. not just a future as a collector of specimens but a future as a scientist explorer and perhaps he hoped, you know, one of the most prominent and most famous scientific explorers in america. so in the early phase of his career hayden's mentor was spencer fullerton baird who you see here the assistant secretary of the smithsonian institution in 1848 spencer baird was actually the first recipient of a smithsonian grant for the purpose of exploration and natural history collecting. he took a trip and in southern pennsylvania with that grant he was then appointed in 1850 to be
assistant secretary four years after the smithsonian establishment he brought with him two entire railroad cars of specimens including 4,000 bird skins that he had collected himself during his early life and this really served as the basis of the smithsonian's collections in this early period he was a tremendous logistical manager and networker his greatest talent was identifying and collecting scientists. hayden had actually written to baird in 1853 very early on in his career asking for advice and for funding for a fossil collecting trip to the upper, missouri river badlands, which geologists were already calling the boneyard for it's just amazing collection of fossils and distribution across the fossil record these of course were lakota lands, which we will talk about a little bit later but spencer baird wrote him back
immediately sent him some money and some advice about how to collect and pack fossils and then of course in return asked for several of the specimens for the smithsonian's collections and this began a multi decade friendship and partnership hayden was establishing himself as a scientist during this period in the 1850s and 60s. and baird was establishing the smithsonian as a world-class scientific institution. so both men took a little bit time off during the civil war hayden didn't really want to go to war but sort of with forced into it in 1862 and served as a physician because he had a medical degree because that's how you actually did the coursework that would enable you to become a geologist during this period of time so he went off to the war came back in 1865 and then started as i noted to lead to surveys on his own. at this point yellowstone really
was one of the only unmapped places in the nation. as i noted before when we had the poll yellowstone is hard to get to now it was even harder to get to thanally before 1869 with a completion of the transcontinental railroad. there were some amateur explorers who were getting in there though. there had been some scouts and some trappers who had gone into yellowstone and came out with stories of you know exploding geysers and bubbling upon bubbling streams and mud volcanoes and cliffs made of glass and nobody believed them right because scouts and trappers were known to be in better at liars. and so who you know, they were always telling tall tales around the fire. so who was them but the white population of montana was growing during this period and there were some some amateurs from montana who decided that they wanted to go check out yellowstone for themselves to see if these rumors were true.
so there was one small group that went in 1869 then another more prominent and more famous group in 1870 led by nathaniel langford who was a civil official turned montana booster had come to montana during the gold rush of 1863 and now kind of brought together a group of of men who held positions in montana's territorial government or who were about to rotate out gathered together a team got a military escort from the second cavalry for posted at fort ellis in bozeman and entered yellowstone basin in the summer of 1870. this expedition was notable for producing two very prominent articles that were published in scribner's monthly and then also a lecture tour by nathaniel langford and hayden actually saw langford's talk in washington dc in the winter of 7172 and this is what commenced him that he
needed to get to yellowstone right away because he wanted to keep it out of the hands of amateurs. he wanted to claim it for science, and he wanted to go he didn't want to miss this chance to make his mark and to claim yellowstone for professional scientists and for the nation. so he began to lobby congress for funding in the kind of late winter early spring of 1871 and they gave him $40,000 which is a lot of money that's close to in. today's money about a million dollars to take a group a rather large group a larger team than hayden had ever brought together before and to get them out to yellowstone and back in the summer of 1871. so the goal was to explore yellowstone not to preserve it. this was never part of hayden's plan from the beginning. he never even really thought about it until later. he was supposed to as most surveys were to evaluate yellowstone for development.
hayden's personal goal also was to establish himself. as the nation's foremost explorer scientist and really make his reputation in yellowstone and spencer baird encouraged him in this he thought that yellowstone would be the perfect place for hayden to do this that any kind of bigger survey would just be more general and not as interesting that yellowstone was where he would make his mark so as i noted on march 3rd congress appropriated the $40,000 between that point and may hayden was recruiting scientists and organizing his supplies with the help of spencer baird and the smithsonian coffers, basically and such a baird was also suggesting scientists to him he very forcibly suggests that hayden take a young man named frederick hughes who was an ornithologist who bared really believed in hayden came to regret that choice. he didn't like he was very much and never used him again.
but like the men who had given him money. he was very much invested in making spencer baird happy so he took he was a long he also, you know kind of thrust an imperied with a lot of people who were writing to try and join the expedition ended up with a fairly large scientific team, and then also a group of people i call in the book the political boys who were the sons of congressman who hayden needed on his side so all of these people gathered together in late may in omaha, nebraska where they boarded union pacific trains to ogden utah made a pit stop in in cheyenne, wyoming gathered supplies. most notably army horses and then made their way west. they spent a little bit of time in utah exploring ogden exploring salt lake city where they also got supplies salt lake city was a very important stop on the major road between
california and colorado and and they were also quite interested in the what they would have considered the more curious aspects of salt lake city. it's founding in mormonism and bringing bring him young it's president. so they spend a little time there kind of looking around and then left on june 10th for the real start of the expedition moving northward along a stage road from ogden to virginia city montana, which was an old mining town there. they had wagons they had forces with them bringing all of their supplies by july 13th. they arrived at fort ellis in montana. just outside bozeman where they picked up their second cavalry escort and by july 15th, they were at butler's ranch, which was a ranching concern run by a pair of german brothers in the yellowstone river valley if you have flown into bozeman and driven to yellowstone that way through the northern entrance.
then you have actually driven by butler's ranch road, which is the site of that former ranch right there on the yellowstone river. this was the perfect place. to set off for yellowstone. they followed the river down to where it meets the gardener, but they really did only take horses and meals with them because they knew from reports that they weren't going to be able to get any wagons through any of the narrow canyons into yellowstone. so they really jumped off on july 20th, 1871 and spent a couple of months exploring the park here is a map you can see them at the very top of the map kind of coming down. along the yellowstone river making a diversion up the gardener a little ways where they saw for the first time the white what they called the white mountain, which we now call mammoth hot springs and langford's team has had not
discovered this particular feature of yellowstone's grant geothermal basins and so hayden really considered that this was an iconic moment in his survey. he emphasized it a lot in all of his written reports because he wanted to claim it kind of as his own discovery, even though right at the base along the gardener river. they actually ran into some minors who were already taking the waters for various illnesses. so clearly they were not the first ones there and of course indigenous peoples had been there for thousands of years and in fact, you know hayden's expedition could not have happened without a couple of things to transcontinental railroad supply depots in cities and towns support from the the us military and then also the kind of trails of the indigenous peoples throughout the basin who had been using yellowstone as a thoroughfare as a camping site and a hunting ground for
thousands of years. so, you know as they're moving along hayden is is noting in his reports and and writing later. so that they were the first ones to see this they were jumping off into a wilderness and then he would just very unironically say and then we followed the path. on the side of the structure up to the top of the white mountain so clearly people had been there before had been there many times before to pound out pathways and they basically followed past that had already been laid out in this counterclockwise route where they came down. came along the river ended up at the lower falls in the upper falls of the yellowstone climbed mount wash what they called mount washburn and then went to yellowstone lake camp there for a little bit then made a big diversion to the west to go. see the geyser basins then return to yellowstone lake came around the eastern side and then decided that they really needed to head back to fort ellis in
bozeman and at least butler's ranch by the bean beginning of september because i don't know if those of you who have been to yellowstone. what time of year you went, but he knew hayden knew from reports that the big snowstorms were going to start rolling in in early september and in fact when i went when my husband and i went just this last kind of mid-september two yellowstone. we did get snowed on during that trip, so that still happens for hayden. it would have been a disaster his men would have been cut out with not very many supplies and totally exposed to the elements. so he needed to get his team out of there as quickly as possible and to to have a successful survey and they really did they made a very complete survey of most of the features that we know and recognize in yellowstone. most importantly he was able to really get a sense of the geothermal regions and even though the lower falls would
become kind of the most spectacular visual iconic reference for yellowstone after this survey, but it was the geothermal regions that saved it as a national park and hayden understood this hayden knew once he saw that the lower and the upper guys are basins once he saw old faithful which had already been named by the way in that 1870 survey. he knew that this place was special he knew it was iconic and he knew it was unique in all the world because you know, they i scientists had already kind of discovered and explored a little bit the icelandic geysers and also some guys are basins in new zealand. but they were nothing compared to this in terms of the size and the number of features and the diversity of features. so it was really kind of incredible, you know a couple of men left the survey fairly early due to health reasons, but the survey proceeded without a hitch and when hayden wrote to spencer
baird at the end of it, he almost couldn't believe his luck that it had gone so very well. and partly that was due to hayden's talents. he was an excellent scientist, but he was also even more so a really great leader of a survey. he allowed the men to create their own collecting teams. he gave them instructions about collecting and he expected them to work hard. he made it pretty clear to the political boys that if they did not pull their weight, they would be jettisoned from the survey, but he really didn't crack down on them. he gave them a lot of lead and a lot of leeway and they ended up collecting just a huge amount of special specimens 45 boxes that they sent back to the smithsonian institution for analysis and collection. he was also quite a good writer. he understood the power of language of travel narratives in particular in shaping the way
people understand science. so he really played a very interesting role in the development of the genre of popular science writing and you can see here. i've included the title page from his scribner's monthly. piece about the hayden expeditions journeys into the yellowstone. this illustration of course is based on thomas moran's very famous painting which we'll talk about in a minute, but this piece and i i included a link to it. in the sheet that you got. because it really is a remarkable piece of writing kind of takes you along on their journey and explains the science to you and very accessible language. so his job he had many things to write after he got back from the yellowstone. he was writing this piece for scriveners who was writing a more technical piece for a scientific journal and then he was also writing a huge report many hundreds of pages for congress. so he had a lot on his plate. he was also sending out specimens for scientists to analyze so that they would send
in his reports try to ride heard kind of on everyone. he understood in this moment. he actually asked william henry jackson to come back with him the photographer to help him to organize the images for the report because he knew not only was the written word important but visual images were vital to conveying the meaning of science in this period and the meaning and the significance of landscapes. so i just mentioned william henry jackson. this is a self-portrait of his here on the left and then two of his images from the survey the top at butler's ranch so you can see sort of the extent of that infrastructure there along the yellowstone river and then his iconic photo which i'm sure you have seen of the white mountain or mammoth hot springs and that's actually thomas moran there who is posing on the structure itself, which seems a
little dangerous to us. now, of course, we're not allowed to clamber on over there and i wonder how close we came to losing moran into the depths of the white mountain would have lost one of the most amazing landscape painters in our country's history, but william henry jackson and hayden developed a very close relationship jackson had grown up in vermont. he took to photography just as hayden had taken to fossil hunting he went west with a wagon train in the late 1860s after the civil war after serving in the civil war. then he started a photographic gallery and studio in omaha, nebraska. he got a big commission in 1869, which was to take photographs along the union pacific line and it was and when he was engaging in that project in cheyenne, wyoming that he met ferdinand hayden in a brothel, which was an encounter that he remembered vividly, but hayden never wrote about and you can imagine why but the two of them met then
became friends when hayden recruited him for an 1870 survey. he was leading to southern wyoming and just really loved jackson's photographs felt like he had a great sense of place that he knew where to place the camera that he understood how to create a mobile studio pack in onto the back of the mule and actually, you know, come through with intact last negatives. i mean in this in this time, it was pretty extraordinary, so he came along and he really had an important role to play because hayden felton, you know people during this period really believe that photographs. conveyed reality, you know now we know with instagram and everything that you can manipulate photographs and they can tell whatever story that you want them to tell but in this period photography was still relatively new had sort of burst onto the scene mostly during the civil war although had been invented before that and in in
this time the the photographs really served as evidence. they certain that all of these features were here. i mean who else who was gonna believe descriptions of the white mountain without this visual image here that perfectly represented it? you know, but they were also proof that hayden had been there and that the team had been there and then had come back with these images. so hayden understood the power of these he wanted jackson with him for the creation of the congressional report, and he also used a lot of his images, but later to lobby congress for the passage of the yellowstone act. also along although not at hayden's invitation was thomas moran landscape painter who's family had emigrated from england before the civil war a moran was born there came to the united states grew up in philadelphia in a family of artists showed his talent for
landscape painting pretty early on but was just emerging as a major painter on the scene in 1871. he was also working as an illustrator for scribner's magazine and had created the woodcut illustrations for nathaniel langford's yellowstone account that was published in may of 1871. so moran interestingly kind of had already envisioned yellowstone before he had actually gone there in the summer of 1871. he was recruited by jay cooke an investment banker who had an interest in the northern pacific railroad and wanted yellowstone documented for reasons. i will about in a second. he helped to fund thomas moran's trip as did scribner's. and moran really wanted to render. yellowstone and full color because of course, this is the advantage that painting has over photography. jackson's photographs could give you a really good sense of the rich detail, you know, the sharp
lines of all of these elements of yellowstones amazing natural structures, but moran could give you the color right? so here are two of his watercolor sketches that he made he made both pencil sketches and watercolors kind of in the moment and then he went back after the survey to produce versions of some of these in oil some of them that were actually going to go directly to jay cook to help pay him back. so moran was really captivated by captivated by a lot of the sides and yellowstone, but particularly the view of the lower falls from the canyon rim. he and jackson spent several days on the rim sketching and taking photographs and moran even was so excited to start on this painting which he called the big picture that he returned home early from the expedition to get to his studio into a new newark, new jersey and get started on this just eight by
twelve foot. humongous image of the lower falls of the yellowstone again, probably the most iconic image of yellowstone national park. he finished it in late april of 1872. he exhibited it in new york city to great fanfare and the you know, the critics really loved the painting they especially loved the color that he achieved with the gold along the sides of the canyon and for those of you know, you guys have been there you have seen this exact scene and in fact, the national park has a great kind of way-finding placard that shows you the painting kind of right as you were looking at the scene itself, which is a kind of wonderful sort of layering in the summer and spring and summer of 1872. moran was lobbying members of the library committee who were the ones who purchased books and artworks for the library of congress and he was lobbying them to buy grand canyon of the
yellowstone. and he really wanted them to buy it for $10,000 and the reason that he wanted that some is that the most expensive painting ever sold had or in the united states by an american painter had been frederick edwin churches niagara, which had sold for $10,000 and so he wanted to match that or or get more than that, but he got 10,000 which was an amazing amount of money and the painting after it was sold went on a little bit of a tour of the east coast was shown in the smithsonian alongside. so some of george catlin's native paintings that he had executed in the 1830s and 40s and then by the fall of 1872, it was hanging in the halls of congress both jackson's and moran's artwork help to make the case for the yellowstone act hayden actually created a little exhibit in the rotunda while he was lobbying for the yellowstone
act. that included some of jackson's photos and some of moran's sketches and then also mineral specimens fossil specimens and other items from the expedition. so speaking of the yellowstone act this was in a kind of amazing moment in the winter of 1871 and 1872. there had been ideas about parks obviously and about natural spaces that belong to the people the colonies had commons for centuries, but the idea that people needed green spaces where they could go and sort of as you would say kind of either recreate or recreate themselves right was an idea that really emerged in the context of industrialization rural cemeteries, and then city parks began to provide these spaces in the 1830s and 1840s in 1832. congress actually did pass an
andrew jackson signed legislation setting aside lands at arkansas hot springs as a federal reservation. so historians of conservation usually point to that is kind of this first moment where the government is taking control of a landscape for the people. um in 1884 george catlin who had been on a trip to the missouri river had suggested keeping all the lands from there to the pacific as a permanent national park. that was not an idea that was widespread or really taken up in any sort of way. the department of the interior was created in 1849 began to fund geological and geographical surveys. also took over the general land office which surveyed and sold public lands so their work was not really about preservation or conservation in this moment in encompassed really all potential land uses. so the real precedent for the yellowstone act was the yosemite
act of 1864 another war time measure that gave the lands of yosemite and mariposa grove to the state of california to manage for the benefit of the people for public resort and recreation. the yellowstone act though as imagined was a different kind of land taking here the government the federal government was suggesting that they would take land from the territories and give it to the department of the interior to manage and this was a new idea. this was a precedent setting idea because as you will see some people had problems with this kind of idea as opposed to the idea of the yosemite act. so when hayden returned from yellowstone in late october 1871, he received a note from the pr man for j cook of the net of the northern pacific railroad and investment banker who was
raising money for the northern pacific who's tracks. he hoped would run just north of the yellowstone basin and the the letter suggested that hayden advocate for the creation of a national park in his piece for scriveners and in report to congress. now hayden had not lobbed this idea around he had not even really thought of it before this point. but immediately he took it up. he understood how important it would be. he understood how amazing it would be for scientists to have this land preserved for the nation and to keep it out of private hands. so in november and december he began to lobby along with his scientific team with members of congress to pass a yellowstone act along with a group of montana boosters. and then also jay cook and his brother henry who knew ulysses s grant personally and kind of got him on the side of the bill. it was introduced in both the
senate and the house on december 18th it to find the new the boundaries of a new national park at that time around 1700 square miles, which is about half as large as it is now and suggested taking those lands from wyoming and idaho and montana again giving those lands to the department of the interior for the benefit and the enjoyment of the people so really creating this democratic landscape of tourism, which was a new idea. um the bill was sent to each body's committee on public lands for review and recommendation and hayden consulted with those committees and help them to write their very positive reports. on january 30th 1872 the senate debated they had two major issues one was federal overreach. this was the contentious issue that brought about one of the contentious issues that brought about the american civil war and was not resolved in that conflict. again, the only congressional
precedent was the federal government giving land to a state democrats were very concerned about this issue, especially in the context of reconstruction a period in american history when the federal government really exerted itself an unprecedented ways to protect the rights of citizens and provide things for them. republicans, of course, you know most of them although a group of moderate republicans started to voice their opposition to this federal overreach as well. but most of them had no problem with it part of their their party platform was federal supremacy and they were interested in supporting and defending it. the second objection was that such an act would violate white settler rights, which had been affirmed most recently in the 1862 homestead act and was a central component of the american dream right that white americans had the right to take or buy whatever lands they wanted to farm to ranch or mine both democrats and republicans most of them from the midwest
and the west upheld settler rights. they sort of called upon this long tradition, but this objection was not strong enough in the senate to derail the bill. we don't know what the senate vote actually was. there was not a roll call. we cannot be sure who voted in what way but the measure passed by all reports easily. although very likely it was not unanimous. it took about a month for the house. to really bring up the bill for the debate. there were the same concerns expressed there as had been concerned expressed in the senate and also there was an interesting moment when a republican representative from nebraska named john taft asked about lakota land claims in the area and whether or not yellow whether or not yellowstone was encompassed in their territory laid out in the 1868 portland army treaty for the most part. this concern was completely dismissed particularly by henry
dawes a massachusetts congressman who would later author the 1887 several tea act that took millions of acres of negotiated treating lands away from indigenous nations to sell to white americans what he said to taft was the indians can know no more live there than they can upon the precipitous side of the yosemite valley. so does, you know had always supported hayden surveys? he was one of the people that hayden lobby directly. he was one of the most powerful men in the house. his son chester had joined hayden in yellowstone. he was one of the political boys. so on that day february 27th, the vote was called 89% of republicans voted. yes on the yellowstone act 70% of democrats voted. no, so this was not unanimous clearly the ones who were the kind of outliers. there was no real regional breakdown people were voting for and against from all different regions.
it was just breaking down i think on those issues of white settler rights and federal overreach the republicans strong majority in the house, though meant that the yellowstone act which was bipartisan, but certainly not unanimous had passed and on march first 1871 the bill landed on president ulysses grant's desk and he signed it really without any fanfare. most newspapers reported on it reported on its passage where we're pretty much positive about it as we can see here in this squib from the new york herald which was often taken and reprinted in newspapers across the nation. they saw it as something that was good for the country. good for summer travelers that it was a wonderful place that the united states needed to keep and to protect and they saw the national park movement really as something that could only happen in america as some of them expressed directly. so the passage of the bill was great news for jay cooke who of course had had lobbied for it
cook along with hayden is one of the major protagonists of my book he grew up in ohio. he started working as a clerk in a bank while still in his teens. he was quick with numbers. he really grasped the complexities of business and banking and by the civil war he had opened up his own investment bank called jay cooking company. he made his reputation and his fortune during the civil war selling war bonds to support the us government and the union army effort and in the years afterwards. he was really casting about for a project that would give him that same sense of patriotism. that would give him a sense of purpose and would also make him money and what he came upon was the northern pacific railroad, which was a national project that was intended to be the second transcontinental line. it was actually called the centennial line was supposed to be finished in 1876 to celebrate the n anniversary his brother henry believed that if they
could pull this off the northern pacific would be quote the grandest achievement of our lives. so cook took control of fundraising for the northern pacific in 1870. but from the start, it was really a disaster railroads. we're in our kind of volatile investments. nobody wanted a piece of it in the us or in europe, but cook was determined. he was obstinate. he thought that with enough advertising and promotion the northern pacific could build its track and be as success and he saw hayden's yellowstone expedition and the national park that yellowstone became as a boon to his project. he was wrong about that. he did not anticipate that another figure of the period would be working against him in the region. and this is just sorry i should have gone to this slide. this is this these are two examples of the way that cook
was using advertising and newspapers to really gin up some enthusiasm and some bond sales for the northern pacific in 1871. now the man standing in his way was tatanka iyotake sitting bull the hung papalo coated chief. born in the 1830s along the upper, missouri river to a family of war chiefs and community leaders sitting bull was a member of the hung popup band of the lakota who were themselves one part of the ochetti shakawin the seven council fires known at the time as the sioux he grew up to be a widely respected leader of the hung papah establishing himself by the 1850s and 1860s and fights not only against the lakota's a traditional enemies like the crow, but also in fights against us soldiers he began to appear in us official documents in the late 1860s as indian agents and army officers
and civil officials were beginning to take note of his leadership and his growing power during this period he consistently asserted his people's rights to their homelands along the yellowstone river valley and their sovereignty as a people in both diplomacy and island action against white americans who were trying to cross lakota homelands sitting bull does came to class with jay cooks northern pacific railroad surveyors who wanted to lay track right through his country which extended in this period from the missouri river to the yellowstone basin. um in the fall of 1871, his people pushed a group of surveyors out of the yellowstone valley and back to missouri and then in the summer of 1872 the lakota fought two battles against us troops that were protecting northern pacific surveyors moving from both the missouri river in the east and then also from the west from bozeman and fort ellis in august
on the 14th and the 22nd. they fought the battle of arrow creek and the battle of o'fallon creek and once again sitting both succeeded in pushing the surveyors out and delaying the northern pacific railroad project the next year in june of 1873 sitting bill and his people met george armstrong custer for the first time as that officer led a northern pacific expedition west along the yellowstone. there was another fight and the the americans once again retreated and really what i came to see about the these moments is that they're really leading the lakota and the us army on a direct path to the battle of little bighorn to greasy grass in 1876. so it's really here in the defense of his homelands along the yellowstone river. that's sitting bull really starts on that road that victory that the lakota had. and they're cheyenne and arapaho allies at little bighorn was
tremendous, but it also brought the full weight of the us army down on the lakota afterward ulysses s grant, you know ordered and was fully in support of those campaigns many lakota surrendered others followed sitting bull to canada in the moment though their actions delayed and finally scuttled the northern pacific railroads plans brought about the panic and depression of 1873, which is an interesting moment here because jay cook had been so obsessed with this plan that he had actually loaned money from his own investment bank to the northern pacific and in september of 1873 in the middle of a very unstable chaotic economy. his investors came calling and he had no money to give them and his bank closed and launched the panic and depression lakota actions also presented tourist traffic and scientific explorations of the yellowstone. after 1873 until after 1877 the
lakota though. we're not the only tribal nations lane claim to yellowstone, so i wanted to be sure to show you this map of the major groups that were moving in and around this area and using yellowstone to move back and forth not only to get at the great bison herds of southern wyoming and nebraska, but also to get it one another to fight one another in their traditional battles. so these indigenous groups as i noted before have been using yellowstone their paths were already there. going by all the features they knew all about them. they also hunted and fished within. yellowstone itself explorers like hayden, not only followed their paths, but found their campsites and so, you know, we have this proof that these communities were moving through and using yellowstone in some interesting ways and had been stewards of this land for
thousands of years. i just wanted to know that, you know during this 150th anniversary year the officials at yellowstone national park are making a concerted effort to highlight these indigenous histories of yellowstone and to really bring in indigenous voices to the park itself not only in a series of displays, but also in the native history center, so i'm really hopeful that people. you know just moving through the park and expecting really to see only natural wonders are going to see a little bit more of its history moving forward. so what came of all of this the passage of the yellowstone act? well, it's legacy was not immediate congress did not provide much funding for infrastructure for the first decade again, it was still difficult to get to until 1883 when the northern pacific line was finally completed up until that point yellowstone really only had about 500 to a thousand visitors a year. and congress did not pass major
preservation legislation until 1890 when they once again had control of all the branches of government. they had a republican president and benjamin harrison and they controlled the house and the senate and in that year. they created yosemite and sequoia and general grant national parks, but then again there was another gap another lag until teddy roosevelt during his presidency really became the iconic conservation president using the 1906 antiquities act which gave him the power to create executive action to really make proclamations that any site of public interest could be a national monument and during his presidency congress created another five national parks all of them in the west including mesa verde in colorado. what's also interesting though? is that yellowstone's preservation led to the creation of one of the largest intact
temperate zone ecosystems in the world and this area of which yellowstone is sort of the center. it's a very large area in montana and idaho parts of wyoming is given scientists a huge laboratory for experiments and studies and in fact a group of scientists. just did a climate study. they published that report in july of 2021 as you might expect the news is not good and but the preservation of yellowstone has allowed scientists to actually study this and actually bring this really important information to us and ultimately of course yellowstone did set the precedent for the creation of national parks and their management under the federal government. unfortunately also it's at a precedent for native land dispossession in this context. so just to wrap up here. my book saving yellowstone tells all of these stories that the exploration and preservation of this iconic landscape through
the experiences of hayden and sitting bull and cook and some of the other figures i've mentioned here tonight. through them and looking at reconstruction from yellowstone and yellowstone in the context of reconstruction. i think we can see how reconstruction was a political and an economic and a social project the focus not only on the south but also on the west that it was a effort on the part of the federal government to unite the country from coast to coast through a variety of projects, including the exploration and preservation of yellowstone. it also shows us that 1871 and 72 was a moment, which the government really reached for a higher purpose before unfortunately abandoning it soon afterwards politicians would not use federal supremacy to protect black civil rights again for almost a century congress did not create any more substantial national parks until 1890 and of course preserve lands continue to be the targets of conservative efforts to withdraw their status and turn them
toward production seeing reconstruction from yellowstone also allows us to see how the effort to explore and preserve yellowstone rested again on native land dispossession, but that indigenous people's fought this effort every step of the line and that they survived and they persisted and they continue to defend their lands against commercial and federal development. and finally this angle of vision, i think really reveals yellowstone itself as not only the world's kind of first national park in this kind of amazing geothermal field unique and all the world. but also a perfect metaphor for the country at this moment in 1871 and possibly even today a place that is both beautiful and terrible both fragile and powerful and a place where what lies just beneath the surface is always threatening to explode. so, thank you so much. i will end there and i think we have some time for questions.
all right. thank you so much megan. that was a great story. that was a really great story. um, and and thank you to everyone in the audience today and if you have any questions, feel free to go ahead and submit them now, but let's go ahead and jump into some of the questions that have come in. okay, and some of these are maybe a little more general history, but i think with your background you could possibly know the answers to some but feel free to pass on any of them. but okay, so one of the first questions that came in is is is the clause in the 14th amendment limiting citizenship of native americans still enforce? it is not. no, i believe it in in 1924. i believe the federal government gave full citizenship rights to indigenous people. of course, you know, i mean that it's a long period of time
right? it is fairly recent. but yes that that no longer applies. thank you. another question, why did lincoln imprison 10,000 navajo in some apaches in fort sumner, new mexico beginning in 1863? $3,000 died either a sumner or on the forced move inconsistent with how former slaves were treated. absolutely. yes, um if you're interested in this topic, this is a major component of my previous book the three corner war which many of the chapters take place on the long walk and at bosque redondo, which is the name of that reservation. yes, this is one of the biggest human rights disasters in the civil war almost completely the fault of james henry carlton, who is the commander of the us army and the department of and the department of new mexico in that region the us army had kind of pushed the confederates from
new mexico in the summer of 1862, and then they turned the full force of their military power on chirakawa apaches on mescalero apaches and on the navajo people and it was carlton's intent again, and you can see the relationship here. he really started to particulate this new kind of federal indian policy where there would be no treaty agreements and the first move would be active warfare with the intent of removing native people to reservations. so they would be out of the way of white settlers moving west kind of during the civil war and then in the years after that and bosque redondo has a really fascinating history. i mean, of course it is terrible at 25% mortality rate both on the long walk and at bosque redondo and really more people need to know about it because it really was a unique kind of prisoner of war camp, but also needs to be discussed in that context with places like
andersonville and in this place can actually see that contradiction which also lies that the heart of saving yellowstone, which is that the federal government on the one hand is preserving and protecting the rights of black southerners emancipating them, you know trying to help them in a transition out of enslavement and into freedom. yet they are also embracing the possible extermination of and then also the removal and the incarceration of native people and i think today we think that's really contradictory. but in the moment both of those projects went toward the republican effort to bring the south and the west back into the nation to exert control over both of those regions and to create in the west. a kind of a land of free labor a land of freedom in their view that were would require removing native people and putting them on reservations, so they did not
interfere with white settler rights. so those are two very connected. programs and campaigns and in that way, i think actually saving yellowstone is i think you can see it as a sequel to the three cornered war because there are many connections and many causal, you know sort of cause and effect relationships. all right. thank you, michael for that question. right, so another one and i'm not sure how they mean this so i'm gonna kind of guess at it. what what are the chances that management of yellowstone will be turned over to the native tribes to handle. mm-hmm. and that's current or what are the chances that it could have happened that i mean imagine. it's currently yeah. i think this is a current question and it's related to the land back movement, which is a movement on behalf of indigenous people is to return all native parklands. if not all many other kinds of
lands two indigenous stewardship and ownership. um, i think the chances are probably small that yellowstone will be turned over one of the interesting things about yellowstone, is that it actually because it was a thoroughfare if you if you remember the slide of all of those groups that are involved and and, you know, yellowstone national park has established relationships 26 tribal nations with connection. to yellowstone there's not just one group and so it's not like one. indigenous nation ceded that entire land or had it taken from them by the us government. it was a shared space. so it actually wasn't covered by any kind of treaty making so the federal government just you know, there was nothing standing in their way, right and but there was a kind of shared ownership and i think what will happen instead and i'm and i'm very hopeful about this actually because of the way that the park is is handling the 150th and
increasing its attention to indigenous presence in history. is that members of those tribal nations will get more of a say that they will be they'll get a seat at the table. they'll get to kind of talk about the park moving forward talk about how to integrate indigenous histories into this into this landscape and into the tourist experience of the park. i mean one of the things that we've been talking about i'm a i'm helping a group out of the university of michigan to develop a plan to kind of track. new effort at indigenous history integration and one of the things we thought would be so cool is what if you were driving through on one of the loop roads, which i know you all know and it would just you know, if you signed up for an app it would just kind of ping your phone when you passed a site with important indigenous history that you could get out and look at or you could just experience or it could say right now you're driving right along the route of the bannock trail,
which was a very heavily used migration trail, but for all kinds of tribal nations, and then you just become more aware of your surroundings more aware of yellowstone's history and it's indigenous presence both in the past and also in the present perfect project all right. another question was yellowstone the first national park in the world. do you know and did any other countries set aside land for parks before yellowstone? countries had been setting aside parklands in cities and you know, of course the idea of the commons was very old the whole idea that you would preserve something like central park was quite new. i mean that was an idea that emerged in the in the 1840s but really the idea of a national the government would take from the people and keep out of development and then kind of
organize and structure for tourism. that was a completely new idea. so yes, i think we can safely say that yellowstone was the first national park in the world and then there are still you know, there are some countries that don't even really have it now, but then others that do and and lots of places that have parks that are dedicated to wildlife, you know, obviously what i didn't talk about very much in this talk were the charismatic megafauna of yellowstone the bison and the elk and the wolves in particular bears. and the reason for that is that that hayden really didn't comment on them. and that animal life when they were there was not present in such large numbers that they were noting them and and talking about their preservation. they became important later and the superintendents who followed were taking notes particularly of bison populations, because
those were depleting be in this period and so there was some talk of either breeding bison and bringing them into the park and and actually creating almost like a zoo type atmosphere in yellowstone and that of course has changed over time and now the park still manages that wildlife and manages the herd size, but they don't have it contained in that in that zoo like atmosphere and but there are all kinds of different types of parks and reserves and you know in other countries they have different government structures, so it's kind of hard to to have a an parallel type of experience. right. thank you. so another question when they were developing the boundaries. someone asked what was the purpose of including the narrow strips of land in montana and idaho idaho within the park boundaries? do not i think that was just a
matter. it was probably to gain the entrances and the rights of way because they it was very important particularly in the northern entrance. they needed that area just north of the park which montana was claiming and in fact the montana boosters when they were arguing for the parks creation. actually, we're trying to get them to give all of yellowstone yellowstone over to montana first. and then take the land so they wanted to actually expand into wyoming to take up that land because at that point that northern entrance was really the only way in no one had really discovered the other possible entrances it seemed you know, when they when they saw the tetons they're like, what are we supposed to do with this? how are we going to get over those? right? so they the the montanans in particular saw the park as theirs and so they've just taken little pieces and i think they probably have to do with
mountain ranges and also waterways that were important areas of access for the park itself. right, that makes sense. all right, so i think we're gonna ask one more question. maybe we have time for two, but did general sheridan have a role in protecting, yellowstone? that's a great question sheridan who was one of the commanders in this region of the us army actually did send a another exploring team that was explicitly military and they kind of hooked on to hayden's survey who's a little annoyed by that. it was led by a guy named john barlow and hayden was a little annoyed because he didn't want to have to share any credit if anyone discovered any part of yellowstone and so so he wasn't very happy about that, but he was very much invested in keeping sheridan happy because he needed that support from the us military in terms of supplies
and also military support and protection phil sheridan was also someone he did want to know he and actually the the initial title of the book was this strange country and that was a quote from sheridan himself who said, you know, i think we need to know more about this strange country of the yellowstone and it seemed like such an you know, that's such a great evocative phrase and perfectly described, you know, all of the lands in the in the basin and you know, sheridan was a military official he was a friend of grants and he was committed to implementing all of the federal government's measures in this region. no matter what they would be. oh, sorry about that. all right, so i'm i'm gonna ask two more questions and then i think we'll finish up. so this one i think it's is so let me ask it.
why does teddy get credit for establishing yellowstone when it was really president grants. yes. yeah, this is one of i think the fascinating things roosevelt visited the park. um when they were laying the cornerstone of the arch that is in gardner and so they named the arch after him and they named also parts of the park after him and this leads people to think that roosevelt was the one to create yellowstone national park because it really does i mean the the arch itself is not very clear and and if you're not really sure kind of when roosevelt was president if you're thinking maybe it was possible. it was 1872 then. then there are very good reasons for thinking that he was the one who established it and you know roosevelt kind of sucks up all of the information and national park all of the attention about
national park so poor grant, you know who signs this but grant was also not very good at bragging about this at all. i mean, he never really made any speeches about it. he was totally fine with it, but he didn't try to take credit for anything either. so that was part of it, too. all righty. thank you. all right last last question, and then we'll close if you were to recommend a season to visit yellowstone. what would it be? i think it would be i think it would be september. i mean when we went in september first of all, the the trees were changing color. it was gorgeous. there were fewer people there, which was nice. also. it was kind of glorious to be there when it snowed on us. we got to see, you know herds of bison walking through the driving snow. we got to walk up around the mud volcanoes as the snow was coming down, you know, it was a little cold. it was a it was a little, you know adventurous, but i actually really liked it. i thought it was a really beautiful time of year to be there.
excellent someone commented this evening that smithsonian journeys has a trip to yellowstone in september of this year and they're going so perfect excellence. okay, please post lots of pictures and report you see exactly. all right. well, that's about all the time we have for today. thank you megan for your wonderful presentation and thank you to all of our viewers for joining us today and for the great questions that came through if you enjoyed today's program, please consider becoming a member or making a donation to support educational programs like this and definitely check out our other upcoming programs. and again, we encourage you to fill out the survey when you exit this evening. we do want to hear from you. thank you so much everyone and enjoy the remainder of your evening.