A little history lesson
In the first 10 years of Yellowstone’s life as a National Park it was under serious threat from exploitation. Speculators built camps and hotels right next to the hot springs along with bath’s and laundries in the hot springs for the tourists. People took large pieces of geysers and artifacts from the grounds, while hunters poached animals.
With no one to protect the resources Congress, in 1886, sent in the Army to protect these natural resources. For the first 5 years life was harsh in temporary Camp Sheridan. Soldiers lived in temporary wood framed buildings and tents through harsh winters. In 1890 Congress allocated money for a permanent post, Fort Yellowstone, to be built in the Mammoth Hot Springs area seeing no end in site for the Army’s deployment here. In 1910 there were 324 soldiers stationed here patrolling the park on horse back in summer and skis in the winter.
At first this was not a desirable post assignment but after a few years soldiers called it a good duty station. Coming from hot, dusty assignments in the Southwest, this Shangri-La was a unexpected relief. But still for some it was a lonely outpost, 67 desertions were noted in 1907-08. With a combination of military and civil duties the men were the law enforcement in the area. Their duties included catching any poachers, tourists or developers hurting the environment, marching them to Fort Yellowstone while leaving their prisoners possessions at the nearest (usually different) entry point.
One Poacher was caught in Southeast Yellowstone, marched 6 days north to the Fort for trial and to serve his 3-day jail term. He then had to return 6 days to retrieve his belongings.
In 1916 Congress created the National Park Service to take control of the park and the Army left for new assignments. When the Army left after 32 years the National Park Service took control of the buildings and used them as the Park’s Headquarters. Exteriors have been left as they were although the interiors have been modernized for current usage.
This was a Fort in name only, no stockade walls surrounded the post, it was more a town or village.
The buildings of the Fort are all very interesting, the first was the Bachelors’ Quarters (1909) with an officer’s mess, kitchen, sitting room and 6 apartments. This building is now used as the Albright Visitors Center. (#1 on map, photos below)
Next-door was the 1909 Captains Quarters, built for 2 officers and their families. This 1909 duplex building consisted of a living room, kitchen, dinning room six bedrooms, 2 baths and a pantry each. This is still in use today by park staff as residences. (#2 on map, photo of rear below)
Then comes the Field Officers Quarters housing the post commander (#3 on map, photo below). Built in 1909 it now houses the Park’s Superintendent.
4 duplex Officers Quarters were built in 1891 and 1897. (#4 on map, photo below)
At the far end of Parade Ground was the Post Headquarters (#5 on map) and the Guardhouse (#6 on map) both built in 1891. The guardhouse could hold 15 prisoners and 10 guards. Every person entering the park from the north had to check in at the Post Headquarters (photos below). Check out the trees then and now.
The second Hospital Building (#7 on map), built in 1894, consisted of 11 beds serving both the Army and Tourists. When the third hospital was built this was turned into additional officers quarters until it was torn down.
A Morgue (#8 on map) was built in 1889 next to the second hospital. Listed as being able to hold 2 bodies it was eventually removed.
#9 (on map) is the Hospital Stewards Quarters built in 1894 and still in use as a residence. (photo above)
The 1913 Hospital Annex (#10 on map) were quarters for the hospital staff and now serves as a residence for park personal.
A Chapel (#11 on map) was built in 1913 and is the last building completed during the Army’s duty at the fort. It is still in use today and with its native stone, slate roof and oak furnishings is the best-preserved structure at the fort.
The third Hospital (#12 on map) was built in 1914 and was demolished in 1965 due to structural damage from a 1959 earthquake.
A Commissary Storehouse (#13 on map ), Quartermaster Storehouse (#14 on map) and the Granary (#15 on map) were built in 1891 for troops to purchase goods, to store supplies needed by the troops and for the storage of food for the horses. All 3 are now used as residences by Park Service Personnel.
A new Guardhouse was built in 1910 and still serves as the Parks jail. (#16 on map)
2 Calvary Barracks were built in 1891 and 1897 each holding 60 men (#17 on map). The south one was removed in the 1980’s and the north barracks now house offices.
A Post Exchange or PX (#18 on map) was built in 1905 and contained a gymnasium, library, canteen and barbershop.
Double Calvary Barracks (#19 on map) providing beds for 200 men, is the largest building in Fort Yellowstone. Built in 1909 it is now used as the Park’s Administration Building. (photos below)
A Blacksmiths’ Shop (#20 on map) and 4 additional Non-commissioned Officers Quarters (#21 on map) were built in 1909 and 1897 respectfully are the final buildings in the Fort Complex.
Animals still have full access to this area and it is so nice to see them roam trough the complex.
Across Norris Ave is the U.S Corps of Engineers Offices built in 1903 (#22 on map) and was the headquarters for the Army Engineers who built the original roads in the park.
Continuing around the north loop we stop at Tower-Roosevelt Area for a quick look around and ended up in the small store to by some snacks for our empty stomachs.
Tired from the weeks adventure, we slowly continued around to complete the loop and returned to the cabin at 2:30 to rest for the next days adventure with everyone. Such fun with the adventures and sights we have experienced in the short amount of time so far. But so much more to see and explore.