In This Issue:
• Behind the Scenes at Yellowstone
Behind the Scenes at Yellowstone
Established in 1872 as America’s first national park, 2.2 million acre Yellowstone National Park is nothing short of a natural wonder. Over 10,000 geysers, hot springs, and mud pots roil and boil, spewing their underground secrets for the world to see. Waterfalls crash amid alpine forests, and one of the nation’s most diverse collections of wildlife roam across the park’s 3,472 square miles. Millions of visitors crowd the park’s highways each year in an effort to glimpse these natural phenomena while unraveling the captivating mystery that is Yellowstone. Many visitors, however, never dig deeper than the most popular and accessible attractions, leaving much of this park’s history and geology to stand in the shadows of Old Faithful, Mammoth Hot Springs, and Tower Falls. For those who explore behind the scenes at Yellowstone, though, is a world of incredible facts and stories destined to enhance any visit to this national treasure!
Measuring in at 136 square miles, the ice sheet covering Yellowstone Lake each winter is one of the largest in the continental U.S. While the ice is two feet thick on the surface, many spots on the lake bottom continue to boil from thermal activity.
During the Mount St. Helens eruption, approximately one-quarter of a cubic mile of ash was ejected. In comparison, the volcanic eruption at Yellowstone two million years ago ejected 600 cubic miles of ash. That’s enough material to evenly bury the entire state of Montana in ash twenty feet deep!
Located next to where the old Fountain Hotel once stood, Thud Geyser was named after the thudding sound emanating from the underground expansion and collapse of steam bubbles. It may also have been thudding as a result of the debris shoved down its fifteen foot long and eighteen foot wide crater. Although the Fountain Hotel was demolished in 1927, during its park reign, hotel management used Thud Geyser as a garbage disposal. When Thud was finally cleaned out in 1948, park officials removed all of the following: a frying pan, stew kettle, ladle, pie tin, china plate, porcelain plate, copper plate, blue dishpan, two knives, spoon, fork, butter tub, mixing bowl, two cake molds, an oven rack, apron, three one-gallon crocks, large copper lid, animal bones, seven pop bottles, four whiskey bottles, numerous beer bottles, seventeen tin cans, a Mason jar, Vaseline bottle, seltzer bottle, a broom, duster, towel, bath mat, sixteen handkerchiefs, linen napkin, rubber boot, raincoat, cotton coat, a set of men’s outerwear, large piece of canvas, gunny sack, a penny, two Colorado tax tokens, 40-gallon drum, cog wheel, two wagon braces, two wooden kegs, numerous barrel staves, screen wire, pieces of scrap wire, window glass, two bricks, a horseshoe, pitchfork, window sash, two drawer handles, a surveyor’s stake, large piece of pipe, kerosene lamp, cigarette pack, a 1913 guidebook, two marbles, a film box, four shotgun shells, a light bulb, a tree, two cattle ear tags, and miscellaneous paper. By the way…it is illegal to throw anything into thermal features. Guess the staff and guests of the Fountain Hotel missed the memo!
During the devastating 1988 Yellowstone fires, ashes fell 100 miles away in Billings, Montana, while the smoke column could be seen from over 500 miles away. Even astronauts aboard the space shuttle reported viewing smoke plumes from the fires!
Yellowstone National Park is renowned for its variety of wildlife. Wildlife biologists have determined the species population as follows:
Compare that with the 5,000 employees who inhabit Yellowstone each tourist season and the 25,000 visitors that can be found in the park on any given summer day!
In a typical day, a Yellowstone grizzly bear eats for twenty hours, consuming approximately 20,000 calories. As a result, grizzlies average a forty-pound weight gain each week during the summer months. For comparison sake, a human would need to eat forty hamburgers and forty ice cream sundaes every day to match the voracious eating habits of a grizzly.
When Yellowstone National Park was created, bison hides were all the rage in the fashion industry, and as a result, the bison population was nearly decimated. In 1873, 1,508,000 bison hides were shipped via railroad from Montana to St. Louis, Missouri. In 1882, that number had dropped to 200,000 hides, and in 1883, to 40,000 hides. By 1884, the great bison herds were so devastated that no hides were shipped, and by 1902, only twenty bison remained in Yellowstone. At that point, Congress stepped in, paid $15,000 for twenty-one bison, and established a bison ranch in Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley. Based on this intervention, the park’s bison population began to grow. Today, Yellowstone bison are protected, and more than 4,000 of the species reside within the park’s boundaries.
Think these behind-the-scenes facts are intriguing? Want to find out more? Then check out Janet Spencer’s Yellowstone Trivia, a book of 1,000 Yellowstone facts and stories courtesy of Riverbend Publishing in Helena, Montana.
MONTANA QUICK QUIZ - Ski Trivia
Q. The state record for the greatest snowfall in a season, with 418.1 inches, goes to what town?
Q. What town holds the record for greatest snowfall in 24 hours; greatest snowfall in four days; greatest snowfall in five days; and the greatest snowfall in one month?
Q. What are the only two cities of significant size that have never seen snowfall in July or August?
Q. How many people were killed by avalanches in Montana between 1980 and 2004?
Q. What percent of avalanche victims in the U.S. are men?
From “Montana Trivia” by Janet Spencer, published by Riverbend Publishing, $10 + $2 S & H Call toll free 866-787-2363. Montana Quizzes available free to any publication, contact Janet@TriviaQueen.com
Recipe from The Yellowstone National Park Cookbook by Durrae Johanek, Riverbend Publishing
While this Park cookbook contains an interview of a chef and several of his recipes, it also offers dishes from other park personas as well, from the wolf project leader to a park ranger and many more. Some recipes are pulled from inherited family cookbooks, and some come with special directions for doctoring according to personal taste. With an eclectic mix of styles and cultures represented, you are sure to find something delicious to make and someone interesting to meet in the pages of this unique cookbook that is centered around the first national park, Yellowstone.
Old Faithful Inn Delight Cake with Buttercream Huckleberry Icing by Dianna Kellie
Dianna Kellie’s license plate reads “LUV OFI”—translation, Love Old Faithful Inn. She fell in love with the inn during a stay on her birthday in 1997. Her goal is to stay in all 93 of the original rooms. She has a vast—and growing—collection of inn memorabilia. In 2004, as master of ceremonies for the inn’s 100-year celebration, Dianna presented her tribute to the inn. She says, “I love it there—it’s my heaven on earth.”
From huckleberry chocolates to huckleberry-scented lotion, ice cream, and jam, huckleberries are a Western Montana staple. Dianna notes that if you want to use the icing for decorating, omit the jam because it doesn’t work well in cake decorating tubes.
Mix all dry ingredients in bowl. Add other ingredients and mix for 2 minutes on medium speed. Pour into a greased 9 x 13 pan and bake at 350F for 30 to 40 minutes, checking for doneness.
Combine water and meringue powder; whip at high speed until peaks form. Add 2 cups of sugar, one at a time, beating after each addition at low speed. Add alternately, shortening and rest of sugar; add salt and flavorings. Add huckleberry jam according to taste. Top cake with icing after cake has cooled.
Featured Montana Books
We've included a few books about the state that you might enjoy. These selections are also published locally in Montana as well.
Ultimate Montana Atlas and Travel Encyclopedia
Also available for:
One Woman's Montana by Kathe LeSage
As a lifelong Montanan, Kathe LeSage is keenly aware that Montana is blessed with beauty. But she sees Montana’s beauty a little differently than most of us, and she records what she sees with a unique photographic style. Working in color and in black and white, Kathe brings out deep textures, unusual light, and graceful patterns. Her subjects are varied. Her focus is broad. What Kathe sees and shows to the rest of us is astonishing. She invites inquiry and study, and inspires a deeper connection to what we are viewing. Her images ask that we take a closer look, to see beyond the obvious. Her images foster a desire to take this expanded way of seeing into our own Montana.
Yellowstone Bears In The Wild by Dr. James C. Halfpenny
From claws to cubs, from fur to food, this book accurately describes the lives of grizzly and black bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Written by noted naturalist Dr. Jim Halfpenny (Yellowstone Wolves in the Wild) this book features cutting-edge discoveries about bear biology and ecology, skillfully enhanced with amazing personal stories and illustrated with the unforgettable photography of Michael Francis (Yellowstone Memories). There are explanations of “bear art,” a bear’s “personal space,” and bear “thinking.” Imprinted on the front and back covers are impressions of the front and back tracks of Bear # 264.
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