The Discovery of Yellowstone Park
Nathaniel Pitt Langford

Part 3 out of 3

gratefully and gracefully, and seemingly without reluctance, at the same
time remarking, "You are always doing something to make me laugh!" and
added, "You always seem to have another card up your sleeve when an
emergency arises." By this last figure of speech he delicately suggested
to me the methods adopted by Jake Smith in playing poker.[AD]

We have traveled to-day about eighteen miles, crossing just before the
day closed a timbered ridge, and we are now camped at the junction of
the Firehole river with a stream coming into it from the east nearly as
large as the Firehole, but to which we have given no name.[AE]

Tuesday, September 20.--We broke camp at half past nine o'clock,
traveling along the rocky edge of the river bank by the rapids, passing
thence through a beautiful pine wood and over a long stretch of fallen
timber, blackened by fire, for about four miles, when we again reached
the river, which here bends in a westerly direction. Lieutenant Doane
and I climbed to the top of one of the two prominent hills on our
course, and had a fine view of the country for the distance of thirty

Last night, and also this morning in camp, the entire party had a rather
unusual discussion. The proposition was made by some member that we
utilize the result of our exploration by taking up quarter sections of
land at the most prominent points of interest, and a general discussion
followed. One member of our party suggested that if there could be
secured by pre-emption a good title to two or three quarter sections of
land opposite the lower fall of the Yellowstone and extending down the
river along the canon, they would eventually become a source of great
profit to the owners. Another member of the party thought that it would
be more desirable to take up a quarter section of land at the Upper
Geyser Basin, for the reason that that locality could be more easily
reached by tourists and pleasure seekers. A third suggestion was that
each member of the party pre-empt a claim, and in order that no one
should have an advantage over the others, the whole should be thrown
into a common pool for the benefit of the entire party.

Mr. Hedges then said that he did not approve of any of these plans--that
there ought to be no private ownership of any portion of that region,
but that the whole of it ought to be set apart as a great National Park,
and that each one of us ought to make an effort to have this
accomplished. His suggestion met with an instantaneous and favorable
response from all--except one--of the members of our party, and each
hour since the matter was first broached, our enthusiasm has increased.
It has been the main theme of our conversation to-day as we journeyed. I
lay awake half of last night thinking about it;--and if my wakefulness
deprived my bed-fellow (Hedges) of any sleep, he has only himself and
his disturbing National Park proposition to answer for it.

Our purpose to create a park can only be accomplished by untiring work
and concerted action in a warfare against the incredulity and unbelief
of our National legislators when our proposal shall be presented for
their approval. Nevertheless, I believe we can win the battle.

I do not know of any portion of our country where a national park can be
established furnishing to visitors more wonderful attractions than here.
These wonders are so different from anything we have ever seen--they are
so various, so extensive--that the feeling in my mind from the moment
they began to appear until we left them has been one of intense surprise
and of incredulity. Every day spent in surveying them has revealed to me
some new beauty, and now that I have left them, I begin to feel a
skepticism which clothes them in a memory clouded by doubt.

Wednesday, September 21.--We broke camp soon after 9 o'clock, traveling
northwesterly down the stream, which at six miles entered a canon
extending ten miles in a very tortuous course, the stream gradually
bending to the west. The sides of the canon are steep, and a great many
small lateral streams flow into it, forming cascades of remarkable
beauty. There are also many springs gushing out from the sides of the
canon afar up. Below the canon we traveled over a high ridge for the
distance of ten miles, and camped in a deep coulee, where we found good
water and an abundance of wood and grass. Mr. Hauser and Mr. Stickney
all through the day were a few miles in advance of the rest of the
party, and just below the mouth of the canon they met two men who
manifested some alarm at sight of them. They had a supply of provisions
packed on riding saddles, and were walking beside their horses. Mr.
Hauser told them that they would meet a large party up the canon, but we
did not see them, and they evidently cached themselves as we went by.
The Upper Madison in this vicinity is said to be a rendezvous for horse
thieves. We have traveled about twenty-five miles to-day.

As the outcome of a general conversation to-night, I will leave the
party to-morrow morning, and start for Virginia City, where I have a
forlorn hope that some tidings may be had of Mr. Everts. We think that
Virginia City is not more than thirty miles distant; but, as we are not
now on any trail leading to it, I shall have to take my chances of
finding it.

Jake Smith to-day asked me if I expected that the readers of my diary
would believe what I had written. He said that he had kept no diary for
the reason that our discoveries had been of such a novel character, that
if he were to write an account of them he would not be believed by those
who read his record, and he would be set down as a liar. He said that he
did not mind being called a liar by those who had known him well for
many years, but he would not allow strangers that privilege. This
ambiguous remark indicates that Jake has more wit and philosophy than I
have given him the credit of possessing.

Thursday, September 22, Virginia City.--With a small supply of needed
creature comforts (lunch, etc.), I left the party early this morning,
uncertain as to the time which would be required to take me to Virginia
City. About noon I met a horseman who had left Virginia City this
morning, who directed me to the trail leading to the town. He paused
long enough to let me scan a newspaper which he had, from which I
learned of the capitulation of the French at Sedan. I asked him to hand
the newspaper to General Washburn, whose party he would meet in the
Madison valley. He said that he would stop at the cabin of "Bannack

The distance from our morning camp to this place is much farther than we
thought, and it was 9 o'clock this evening before I reached Virginia
City. Nothing has been heard of Mr. Everts, and his friends are shocked
at the intelligence of his loss from our party.

Owing to the late hour of my arrival I have met but few of my old
acquaintances, but these are greatly interested in the result of our
explorations, and I have promised to remain here another day before
starting for Helena, and give them a further description of what I have
seen. I have enjoyed one good square meal.

Tuesday, September 27, Helena.--I reached Helena last night. The
intelligence of my arrival in Virginia City, and of the loss of Mr.
Everts from our party, had been telegraphed to Helena from Virginia
City, and on my arrival I was besieged by many of the friends of Mr.
Everts for information concerning the manner in which he became
separated from our party. I have spent the larger part of this day in
describing the many wonders which we found on our trip, and I shall be
most glad to have a few days' rest and put on some of my lost flesh. At
the outset of this journey I tipped the beam of the scales at a little
over one hundred and ninety (190) pounds, and to-day I weigh but one
hundred and fifty-five (155) pounds, a loss of thirty-five (35) pounds.
One of my friends says that I may consider myself fortunate in bringing
back to civilization as much of my body as I did. I have already
received several invitations from householders to meet their families
and friends at their homes, and tell them of our trip, but the present
dilapidated condition of my toilet renders it necessary for me to
decline their hospitalities until some future period. My first duty to
myself and my fellow citizens is to seek a tailor and replenish my
wardrobe. Jake Smith is the only one of our party who has returned with
a garment fit to wear in the society of ladies.

My narrations to-day have excited great wonder, and I cannot resist the
conviction that many of my auditors believe that I have "drawn a long
bow" in my descriptions. I am perfectly free to acknowledge that this
does not surprise me. It seems a most natural thing for them to do so;
for, in the midst of my narrations, I find myself almost as ready to
doubt the reality of the scenes I have attempted to describe as the most
skeptical of my listeners. They pass along my memory like the faintly
defined outlines of a dream. And when I dwell upon their strange
peculiarities, their vastness, their variety, and the distinctive
features of novelty which mark them all, so entirely out of the range of
all objects that compose the natural scenery and wonders of this
continent, I who have seen them can scarcely realize that in those
far-off recesses of the mountains they have existed so long in
impenetrable seclusion, and that hereafter they will stand foremost
among the natural attractions of the world. Astonishment and wonder
become so firmly impressed upon the mind in the presence of these
objects, that belief stands appalled, and incredulity is dumb. You can
see Niagara, comprehend its beauties, and carry from it a memory ever
ready to summon before you all its grandeur. You can stand in the valley
of the Yosemite, and look up its mile of vertical granite, and
distinctly recall its minutest feature; but amid the canon and falls,
the boiling springs and sulphur mountain, and, above all, the mud
volcano and the geysers of the Yellowstone, your memory becomes filled
and clogged with objects new in experience, wonderful in extent, and
possessing unlimited grandeur and beauty. It is a new phase in the
natural world; a fresh exhibition of the handiwork of the Great
Architect; and, while you see and wonder, you seem to need an additional
sense, fully to comprehend and believe.

* * * * *


[Footnote A: In his diary under date of August 22d General Washburn
wrote: "Stood guard. Quite cold. Crows (Indians) near."]

[Footnote B: On August 23d General Washburn wrote: "Indians of the Crow

[Footnote C: Near where Livingston is now located.]

[Footnote D: Lieutenant Doane in his report to the War Department under
date of August 24th writes: "Guards were established here during the
night, as there were signs of a party of Indians on the trail ahead of
us, all the members of the party taking their tours of this duty, and
using in addition the various precautions of lariats, hobbles, etc., not
to be neglected while traveling through this country."]

[Footnote E: Under date of August 25th Lieutenant Doane writes: "From
this camp was seen the smoke of fires on the mountains in front, while
Indian signs became more numerous and distinct." Under date of August
25th General Washburn wrote in his diary: "Have been following Indian
trails, fresh ones, all the way. They are about two days ahead of us."]

[Footnote F: These blanks were left in my diary with the intention of
filling them, upon the selection by our party of a name for the creek;
but after going into camp at Tower fall, the matter of selecting a name
was forgotten. A few years later the stream was named Lost creek.]

[Footnote G: In making a copy of my original diary, it is proper at this
point to interpolate an account of the circumstances under which the
name "Tower" was bestowed upon the creek and fall.

At the outset of our journey we had agreed that we would not give to any
object of interest which we might discover the name of any of our party
nor of our friends. This rule was to be religiously observed. While in
camp on Sunday, August 28th, on the bank of this creek, it was suggested
that we select a name for the creek and fall. Walter Trumbull suggested
"Minaret Creek" and "Minaret Fall." Mr. Hauser suggested "Tower Creek"
and "Tower Fall." After some discussion a vote was taken, and by a small
majority the name "Minaret" was decided upon. During the following
evening Mr. Hauser stated with great seriousness that we had violated
the agreement made relative to naming objects for our friends. He said
that the well known Southern family--the Rhetts--lived in St. Louis, and
that they had a most charming and accomplished daughter named "Minnie."
He said that this daughter was a sweetheart of Trumbull, who had
proposed the name--her name--"Minnie Rhett"--and that we had unwittingly
given to the fall and creek the name of this sweetheart of Mr. Trumbull.
Mr. Trumbull indignantly denied the truth of Hauser's statement, and
Hauser as determinedly insisted that it was the truth, and the vote was
therefore reconsidered, and by a substantial majority it was decided to
substitute the name "Tower" for "Minaret." Later, and when it was too
late to recall or reverse the action of our party, it was surmised that
Hauser himself had a sweetheart in St. Louis, a Miss Tower. Some of our
party, Walter Trumbull especially, always insisted that such was the
case. The weight of testimony was so evenly balanced that I shall
hesitate long before I believe either side of this part of the story.


[Footnote H: Now Called Inspiration Point.]

[Footnote I: The above quotation is from a poem by John Keats.]

[Footnote J: Dr. P.V. Hayden, geologist in charge of the U.S. Geological
Survey, first visited this region in the summer of 1871--the year
following the visit of the Washburn party, whose discoveries and
explorations are recorded in this diary. Dr. Hayden, on his return,
graphically described the various wonders which he saw, but had very
little to say concerning the mud volcano. This fact was the more
inexplicable to me for the reason that the Washburn party thought it one
of the most remarkable curiosities to be found in that region, and I was
greatly surprised to find that Dr. Hayden made so little allusion to it.

In 1872, the year following Dr. Hayden's first visit, I again visited
the volcano, and the omission by Hayden was explained as soon as I saw
the volcano in its changed condition. The loud detonations which
resembled the discharges of a gun-boat mortar were no longer heard, and
the upper part of the crater and cone had in a great measure
disappeared, leaving a shapeless and unsightly hole much larger than the
former crater, in which large tree-tops were swaying to and fro in the
gurgling mass, forty feet below--the whole appearance bearing testimony
to the terrible nature of the convulsion which wrought such destruction.
Lieutenant Doane, in his official report to the War Department, thus
describes the volcano as it appeared in 1870:

"A few hundred yards from here is an object of the greatest interest. On
the slope of a small and steep wooded ravine is the crater of a mud
volcano, 30 feet in diameter at the rim, which is elevated a few feet
above the surface on the lower side, and bounded by the slope of the
hill on the upper, converging, as it deepens, to the diameter of 15 feet
at the lowest visible point, about 40 feet down. Heavy volumes of steam
escape from this opening, ascending to the height of 300 feet. From far
down in the earth came a jarring sound, in regular beats of five
seconds, with a concussion that shook the ground at 200 yards' distance.
After each concussion came a splash of mud, as if thrown to a great
height; sometimes it could be seen from the edge of the crater, but none
was entirely ejected while we were there. Occasionally an explosion was
heard like the bursting of heavy guns behind an embankment, and causing
the earth to tremble for a mile around. The distance to which this mud
had been thrown is truly astonishing. The ground and falling trees near
by were splashed at a horizontal distance of 200 feet. The trees below
were either broken down or their branches festooned with dry mud, which
appeared in the tops of the trees growing on the side hill from the same
level with the crater, 50 feet in height, and at a distance of 180 feet
from the volcano. The mud, to produce such effects, must have been
thrown to a perpendicular elevation of at least 300 feet. It was with
difficulty we could believe the evidence of our senses, and only after
the most careful measurements could we realize the immensity of this
wonderful phenomenon."

The visitor to the Park who has read the description given by Washburn,
Hedges, Doane or myself, of the mud volcano as it appeared in 1870, will
readily perceive that it has undergone a great change since the time of
its first discovery.

In my account of my trip made in 1872, published in Scribner's (now
Century) Magazine for June, 1873, I say, concerning this change: "A
large excavation remained; and a seething, bubbling mass of mud, with
several tree-tops swaying to and fro in the midst, told how terrible and
how effectual must have been the explosions which produced such
devastation. I could not realize that in this unsightly hole I beheld
all that was left of those physical wonders which filled this
extraordinary region. * * * Great trees that then decorated the hillside
were now completely submerged in the boiling mass that remained."

The trees with their green tops, which were visible in 1872, have now
entirely disappeared. Can any one conjecture what has become of them?]

[Footnote K: Lieutenant Doane, on page 19 of his report to the War
Department, says with reference to this surgical operation:

"I had on the previous evening been nine days and nights without sleep
or rest, and was becoming very much reduced. My hand was enormously
swelled, and even ice water ceased to relieve the pain. I could scarcely
walk at all, from excessive weakness. The most powerful opiates had
ceased to have any effect. A consultation was held, which resulted in
having the thumb split open. Mr. Langford performed the operation in a
masterly manner, dividing thumb, bone, and all. An explosion ensued,
followed by immediate relief. I slept through the night, all day, and
the next night, and felt much better. To Mr. Langford, General Washburn,
Mr. Stickney and the others of the party I owe a lasting debt for their
uniform kindness and attention in the hour of need."]

[Footnote L: Repeated efforts to ascend the Grand Teton, made prior to
the year 1872, all terminated in failure. On the 29th day of July of
that year the summit was reached by James Stevenson, of the U.S.
Geological Survey, and Nathaniel P. Langford, the writer of this diary.
An account of this ascent was published in Scribner's (now Century)
Magazine for June, 1873. The next ascent was made in 1898 by Rev. Frank
S. Spalding, of Erie, Pennsylvania, and W.O. Owen, of Wyoming, and two
assistants. This ascent was accomplished after two failures of Mr. Owen
in previous years to reach the summit. Mr. Owen then asserted that the
summit of the mountain was not reached in 1872 by Stevenson and
Langford. His efforts--in which Mr. Spalding had no part--to impeach the
statement of these gentlemen failed utterly. Mr. Spalding, who was the
first member of his party to reach the summit, writes: "I believe that
Mr. Langford reached the summit because he says he did, and because the
difficulties of the ascent were not great enough to have prevented any
good climber from having successfully scaled the peak, * * * and I
cannot understand why Mr. Owen failed so many times before he

[Footnote M: The bay here referred to is at the "Thumb" Station.]

[Footnote N: Captain Raynolds wrote on May 10, 1860: "To our front and
upon the right the mountains towered above us to the height of from
2,000 to 3,000 feet in the shape of bold, craggy peaks of basaltic
formation, their summits crowned with glistening snow. * * * It was my
original desire to go from the head of Wind river to the head of the
Yellowstone, keeping on the Atlantic slope, thence down the Yellowstone,
passing the lake, and across by the Gallatin to the Three forks of the
Missouri. Bridger said, at the outset, that this would be impossible,
and that it would be necessary to pass over to the head waters of the
Columbia, and back again to the Yellowstone. I had not previously
believed that crossing the main crest twice would be more easily
accomplished than the travel over what in effect is only a spur; but the
view from our present camp settled the question adversely to my opinion
at once. Directly across our route lies a basaltic ridge, rising not
less than 5,000 feet above us, the walls apparently vertical, with no
visible pass nor even canon. On the opposite side of this are the head
waters of the Yellowstone."]

[Footnote O: Later, in 1833, the indomitable Captain Bonneville was lost
in this mountain labyrinth, and, after devising various modes of escape,
finally determined to ascend the range.

Washington Irving, in his charming history, "Bonneville's Adventures,"
thus describes the efforts of General Bonneville and one of his comrades
to reach the summit of this range:

"After much toil he reached the summit of a lofty cliff, but it was only
to behold gigantic peaks rising all around, and towering far into the
snowy regions of the atmosphere. He soon found that he had undertaken a
tremendous task; but the pride of man is never more obstinate than when
climbing mountains. The ascent was so steep and rugged that he and his
companion were frequently obliged to clamber on hands and knees, with
their guns slung upon their backs. Frequently, exhausted with fatigue
and dripping with perspiration, they threw themselves upon the snow, and
took handfuls of it to allay their parching thirst. At one place they
even stripped off their coats and hung them upon the bushes, and thus
lightly clad proceeded to scramble over these eternal snows. As they
ascended still higher there were cool breezes that refreshed and braced
them, and, springing with new ardor to their task, they at length
attained the summit."]

[Footnote P: Soon after the return of our party to Helena, General
Washburn, then surveyor-general of Montana, made in his office for the
Interior Department at Washington, a map of the Yellowstone region, a
copy of which he gave to me. He told me that in recognition of the
assistance I had rendered him in making a fair outline of Yellowstone
lake, with its indented shore and promontories, he had named for me the
mountain on the top of which I stood when I made the sketch of the south
shore of the lake. I called his attention to the fact that Lieutenant
Doane had been my comrade in making the ascent, and suggested that
Doane's name be given to the adjoining peak on the north. He approved of
this suggestion, and the map, with these mountains so named, was
transmitted to the Interior Department.

Dr. Hayden, the geologist in charge of the United States geological
survey, made his first visit to this region the following year (1871),
and on the map which he issued in connection with his 1871 report, the
name "Mount Langford" was given to another mountain far to the
northeast. Since that time my name has again been transferred to a
mountain on the southeast. I think that Dr. Hayden must have been aware
at that time that this mountain bore my name; for he had read the
account of the Washburn exploration, which was published in Scribner's
Magazine for May, 1871, accompanied by a copy of the map made by General

The significance of connecting my name with this mountain is centered in
the circumstance that it was intended to mark or commemorate an
important event--that of giving to the public a very correct outline map
of Yellowstone lake. In confirmation of the fact that the first outline
of the lake approximating any degree of accuracy was made from the
mountain-top, I here quote from page 21 of Lieutenant Doane's report to
the War Department.

"The view from this peak commanded completely the lake, enabling us to
sketch a map of its inlets and bearings with considerable accuracy."

On page 23 of this report Lieutenant Doane speaks of this mountain as
"Mount Langford." The map last published previous to that made by
General Washburn was that of Captain Raynolds, of which I here present a
copy, as well as a copy of the map made by me.]

[Footnote Q: On our return to Helena, Walter Trumbull published, in the
Helena Gazette, some incidents of our trip, and from his narrative I
copy the following account of our hunt for the grizzly:

"Some of the party who had gone a short distance ahead to find out the
best course to take the next day, soon returned and reported a grizzly
and her two cubs about a quarter of a mile from camp. Six of the party
decorated themselves as walking armories, and at once started in
pursuit. Each individual was sandwiched between two revolvers and a
knife, was supported around the middle by a belt of cartridges, and
carried in his hand a needle carbine. Each one was particularly anxious
to be the first to catch the bear, and an exciting foot-race ensued
until the party got within 300 yards of the place where the bear was
supposed to be concealed. The foremost man then suddenly got out of
breath, and, in fact, they all got out of breath. It was an epidemic. A
halt was made, and the brute loudly dared to come out and show itself,
while a spirited discussion took place as to what was best to do with
the cubs. The location was a mountain side, thickly timbered with tall
straight pines having no limbs within thirty feet of the ground. It was
decided to advance more cautiously to avoid frightening the animal, and
every tree which there was any chance of climbing was watched with
religious care, in order to intercept her should she attempt to take
refuge in its branches. An hour was passed in vain search for the
sneaking beast, which had evidently taken to flight. Then this
formidable war party returned to camp, having a big disgust at the
cowardly conduct of the bear, but, as the darkie said, 'not having it
bad.' Just before getting in sight of camp, the six invincibles
discharged their firearms simultaneously, in order to show those
remaining behind just how they would have slaughtered the bear, but more
particularly just how they did not. This was called the 'Bear Camp.'"

Mr. Trumbull was one of the party of hunters whose efforts to capture
the bear he so well describes.]

[Footnote R: Our subsequent journeying showed that Lieutenant Doane was
right in his conjecture.]

[Footnote S: The Honorable Granville Stuart, of Montana, in his book
"Montana as It Is," published in 1865, says that there is another root
found in portions of Montana which I have never seen. Mr. Stuart says:

"Thistle-root is the root of the common thistle, which is very abundant
in the bottoms along nearly all the streams in the mountain. They grow
to about the size of a large radish, and taste very much like turnips,
and are good either raw or cooked with meat."

Captain William Clark, of the famous Lewis and Clark expedition, dropped
the final _e_ from the word cowse, spelling it c-o-w-s. Unless this
error is noticed by the reader, he will not understand what Captain
Clark meant when he said that members of his party were searching for
the _cows_.]

[Footnote T: Lieutenant Doane, in his official report to the War
Department, says, concerning this episode:

"Washburn and Langford * * * became entangled in an immense swampy
brimstone basin, abounding in sulphur springs. * * * Mr. Langford's
horse broke through several times, coming back plastered with the white
substance and badly scalded."]

[Footnote U: The location of this camp is what is now called the "Thumb"
station on the stage route.]

[Footnote V: Analyses of the various specimens of mud taken from the
springs in this locality, made on our return to Helena, gave the
following results:

White Sediment. Lavender Sediment. Pink Sediment.

Silica......... 42.2 Silica ........ 28.2 Silica ........ 32.6

Magnesia....... 33.4 Alumina........ 58.6 Alumina........ 52.4

Lime........... 17.8 Boracic acid.... 3.2 Oxide of calcium 8.3

Alkalis......... 6.6 Oxide of iron... 0.6 Soda and potassa 4.2

------ Oxide of calcium 4.2 Water and loss.. 2.5

100.0 Water and loss.. 5.2 -----
----- 100.0

These analyses were made by Professor Augustus Steitz, assayer of the
First National Bank of Helena, Mont.]

[Footnote W: On our return home, finding that no tidings of Mr. Everts
had been received, Jack Baronette and George A. Prichett, two
experienced trappers and old mountaineers, were provided with thirty
days' provisions and dispatched in search of him, and by them Mr. Everts
was found on October 16th, after wandering in the forest for
thirty-seven days from the time he was lost. From the letter of Mr.
Prichett addressed to Mr. Gillette, myself and others, I quote: "We
found him on the 16th inst. on the summit of the first big mountain
beyond Warm Spring creek, about seventy-five miles from Fort Ellis. He
says he subsisted all this time on one snow bird, two small minnows and
the wing of a bird which he found and mashed between two stones, and
made some broth of in a yeast powder can. This was all, with the
exception of thistle roots, he had subsisted on."

The narrative of Mr. Everts, of his thirty-seven days' sojourn in the
wilderness (published in Scribner's Magazine for November, 1871, and in
volume V. of the Montana Historical Society publications), furnishes a
chapter in the history of human endurance, exposure, and escape, almost
as incredible as it is painfully instructive and entertaining.]

[Footnote X: Our general line of travel from the southwest estuary of
the lake (Thumb) to the Firehole river was about one mile south of the
present stage route. The tourist who to-day makes the rapid and
comfortable tour of the park by stage, looking south from Shoshone
Point, may catch a glimpse of a portion of the prostrate forest through
and over which we struggled, and thus form some idea of the difficulties
which beset us on our journey from the lake to the Firehole river.]

[Footnote Y: Called now Kepler's cascade.]

[Footnote Z: An incident of so amusing a character occurred soon after
my return to Helena, that I cannot forbear narrating it here. Among the
specimens of silica which I brought home were several dark globules
about the size of nutmegs. I exhibited these to a noted physician of
Helena, Dr. Hovaker, and soon after the return of Mr. Gillette from his
search for Mr. Everts, I called upon him at his store and exhibited to
him these specimens of silica. At the same time I took a nutmeg from a
box upon the store counter, and playfully asked Gillette, in the
presence of Dr. Hovaker, if he had found any of those singular
incrustations. Dr. Hovaker, believing of course that the specimen I held
in my hand came from the Yellowstone, took the nutmeg, and with wonder
exhibited in every feature, proceeded to give it a critical examination,
frequently exclaiming: "How very like it is to a nutmeg." He finally
took a nutmeg from a box near by, and balanced the supposed incrustation
with it, declaring the former to be the lighter. Asking my permission to
do so, he took the nutmeg (which he supposed to be an incrustation) to a
jeweler in the vicinity, and broke it. The aroma left him no doubt as to
its character, but he was still deceived as to its origin. When I saw
him returning to the store, in anticipation of the reproof I should
receive, I started for the rear door; but the Doctor, entering before I
reached it, called me back, and in a most excited manner declared that
we had discovered real nutmegs, and nutmegs of a very superior quality.
He had no doubt that Yellowstone lake was surrounded by nutmeg trees,
and that each of our incrustations contained a veritable nutmeg. In his
excitement he even proposed to organize a small party to go immediately
to the locality to gather nutmegs, and had an interview with Charley
Curtis on the subject of furnishing pack animals for purposes of
transportation. When, on the following day, he ascertained the truth,
after giving me a characteristic lecture, he revenged himself by good
naturedly conferring upon the members of our party the title, by which
he always called them thereafter, of "Nutmegs."


[Footnote AA: James Bridger was famous for the marvelous stories he was
accustomed to relate of his mountain life and experiences. He once told
me that he had seen a river which flowed so rapidly over the smooth
surface of a descending rock ledge in the bottom of the stream, that the
water was "hot at the bottom." My experience in crossing the Firehole
river that day, leads me to believe that Bridger had had, at some time,
a similar experience. He well knew that heat and fire could be produced
by friction. Like other mountain men, he had doubtless, many a time,
produced a fire by friction; and he could not account for the existence
of a hot rock in the bed of a cold stream, except upon the theory that
the rapid flow of water over the smooth surface evolved the heat, by


[Footnote AB: This lake is now called "Hell's Half-acre;" and from the
lower lake the "Excelsior" geyser has burst forth.]

[Footnote AC: The fountain and jets here referred to are those of the
Lower Geyser Basin, and the larger column of water which we saw is
undoubtedly the "Fountain" geyser, named by Dr. Hayden in 1871.]

[Footnote AD: In the course of a recent correspondence with Mr.
Stickney, I asked him if he recalled this incident. Under date of May
20, 1905, he wrote me from Sarasota, Florida: "The maple sugar incident
had almost faded from my memory, but like a spark of fire smouldering
under rubbish it needed but a breath to make it live, and I recall my
reflections, after my astonishment, that you did so many quaint things,
that it was quite in accordance with them that you should produce maple
sugar in a sulphurous region."


[Footnote AE: This stream was afterwards named "Gibbon river."]


It is much to be regretted that our expedition was not accompanied by an
expert photographer; but at the time of our departure from Helena, no
one skilled in the art could be found with whom the hazards of the
journey did not outweigh any seeming advantage or compensation which the
undertaking promised.

The accompanying sketches of the two falls of the Yellowstone, and of
the cones of the Grand and Castle geysers, were made by Walter Trumbull
and Private Moore. They are the very first ever made of these objects.
Through an inadvertence in the preparation of the electroyped plates for
the printer, they did not appear in their proper places in this diary.
Major Hiram M. Chittenden, in his volume "The Yellowstone Park," says of
the two sketches made by Private Moore: "His quaint sketches of the
falls forcibly remind one of the original picture of Niagara, made by
Father Hennepin, in 1697."


Back to Full Books