Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Yellowstone: Early Travelers Tell Their Tales by M. Mark Miller

Is it better for travelers to read about places before or after their visit? The answer to that question depends, of course, on the readers. I like to do some of both. Bonnie researches places to which we traveling very thoroughly before we go, and I rely on her for much of the planning. I read enough to know what I want to see and have an idea of what happened there. I often read more afterwards, when I know the lay of the land.

Having recently been to Yellowstone National Park and to its most famous attractions, I am now reading more about the park. I started with Adventures in Yellowstone: Early Travelers Tell Their Tales collected and edited by M. Mark Miller, twelve traveler's reports about trips taken between 1839 and 1904. In that period, public knowledge of Yellowstone grew from a few explorers' tales to many widely-spread and accurate descriptions published for tourist publications. The first personal account in this collection was written by a trapper who escaped an Indian attack and survived being lost in the woods. The final piece was written by a noted travel reporter who took a luxury five-day tour by stage coach, staying at each of the Yellowstone's five hotels, one each at Mammoth Hot Springs, the Norris Geyser Basin, the Upper Geyser Basin (home of Old Faithful), the shores of Lake Yellowstone, and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River.

Though the twelve journal writers had various reasons for being in Yellowstone, they shared an enthusiasm for its natural beauty, incredible waterfalls, and geothermal wonders. Some encountered bears, while others were caught by early snowstorms. One cared for a companion who accidentally fell in a scalding hot spring. All of their stories included drama and great historical details.

Adventures in Yellowstone serves as a good introduction to the park's incredible history and may please readers who have fallen in love with its grand scenery.

Miller, M. Mark. Adventures in Yellowstone: Early Travelers Tell Their Tales. Twodot, 2009. 264p. ISBN 9780762754144.

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