Thursday, May 2, 2013

Collecting Yellowstone Park

One of the early Greeting Cards
Are you a collector?  If so, you will know that putting together a collection is fun.  It's a hobby and can be challenging and take up a lot of your time.  John collects old stuff from Yellowstone National Park, the "oldest and best" US National Park.  You may be saying, Why on earth would John do this?  Well, the full answer is too long to post here, but the short version is this:  John (as you know, somewhat OLDER) first visited the Park in 1989, one year after the "great fire" that destroyed large areas. To visit a place like that, and despite the devistation, to think it is one of the most fascinating and beautiful areas you've ever seen ... well, that is impressive! And so, John fell in love with the Park and started visiting it every summer (and a few winters as well).  Now, put this together with another of John's fascinations:  railroad history.  Yes, John is old enough to be INTO history!  As you start studying Yellowstone, you will find that in 1872 President Ulysses Grant signed legislation creating the world's first national park. Imagine that in those early years the only way to see what all the fuss was about (folks were calling it "wonderland") was to go on your own two feet, ride horseback, or, if you were well-to-do, take the stagecoach. Not too many folks could do that. However, starting in 1883, the Northern Pacific Railroad installed a branch line to within 3 miles of the Park's northern entrance.  Over the next fifty years, or so, the railroads (NP and a few others) became the way that millions of people discovered Yellowstone for themselves. That whole process created a lot of really cool and interesting promotional materials:  postcards, brochures, maps, luggage labels, window stickers, guide books, etc.  So, in summary, that is the kind of stuff that John likes to collect.

Now, again, if you are a collector, you will know:  yes, it is fun to collect, but you can only get so much fun out of looking at all this stuff by yourself.  So, it is a good thing to SHARE and that is THAT is why John is posting some of his YNP collection on the Island.  

The bears are a popular part of YNP!

People stuck these kind of labels on their luggage.

A luggage label featuring Old Faithful geyser.
Old Faithful is perhaps the most famous of the many geysers.

In the early years camping was a more affordable way to stay  over
during your visit to the park.  Today it is hard to find
these labels in good condition.

Window stickers for your car.
The bottom one is somewhat newer and
features the Arch which was
constructed in early 1900s.

The original Official Photographer was Frank Haynes.
This is a blotter (yes, I know ... ha ha) from the Picture Shop

An early postcard, back when the population of Wyoming (the
whole STATE) was
only about 20,000.
The old postcards (sent back when it only cost one penny to mail) are ofen fascinating.  If you can read the writing on the back of the card below, mailed in 1909, you will see that the person who sent it (from New York City) wasn't sure where the Park was located, or at least the mailing address.  It does appear from the postmark that it made it to its intended destination!

Bears taking photos of tourists.

Imagine piling into this stage to tour the Park.
Look at all the clothes they wore!

This card was published over a hundred years ago,
so probably not.
However, whoever printed it did a nice job
with the rainbow at the bottom.

John likes the idea of YNP being a spot for "An International Rendezvous".  Just in case you can't read Gertrude N. Strausbaugh's 1929 creation on the card, we've typed it out for you below.

Yellowstone Park
An International Rendezvous

The Yellowstone Park, in the heart
of the West,
Where the wild deer run, where the eagles
The haunt of the elk and grey wolf lone,
The path of the silvery Yellowstone.

The crystal streams filled with speckled
The baby bear with his hungry snout,
The dragon’s mouth with its boiling breath,
The deep, dark pools, showing life, and

The Lake – a sheen of heaven’s blue,
The Pines – a marvel of emerald hue,
The Geyser’s light mist, the giant rocks old,
The Canyon – of shimmering, shining gold.

The Yellowstone Park where the nations
In a bond of friendship pure and sweet,
Where we gather round the banquet shelves,
We make new friends, and forget ourselves.

AMERICA’S PARK –in the mountains wild,
That calls with pride to the foreign child,
            “Come out in the West where the flag is
That stands for the freedom of all the

Oh, here in this spot of gold and blue,
May the friendship begun, extend on
To eternity’s shores, where again we meet,
And bury all malice at God’s own feet.

                        Gertrude N. Strausbaugh
                        Copyright  -- 1929 --

As always, thanks for stopping by John's Island.


  1. Love this! My grandmother worked at Yellowstone in 1915 and I have her journal, photos, and postcards. I have started to document it on my sidebar on my blog. Love the old postcards you highlighted here!

  2. you do love all things yellowstone. i like the old postcards! very neat. i remember when you've posted some of this before and margaret, too.

  3. In the 1980s when I was working at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, we took a week-long skiing trip to Yellowstone every year. I loved the place and went several times. We got to the lodge via Snowcat. It was a beautiful place back then, and I even spent three or four nights camping out in the winter! Stunning is what I remember. :-)

  4. Wonderful to see these old postcards! Yellowstone is such an iconic American symbol.

  5. I'm into history too and I used to collect stamps. My son is also a collector, bigger than I ever was. He's also a history buff!

  6. Great story...beautiful views from the past...lovely poem...
    and you have been there...for me it will only be postcards.(◕‿-)
    And I loved your many wonderful photos!


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