A Model of Tourism as Context for Historical Sites: An Example of Historical Archeology at Yellowstone National Park

  • William J. HuntJr
Part of the When the Land Meets the Sea book series (ACUA)


Yellowstone National Park, well known for its unparalleled concentration of hydrothermal features and scenic vistas, is dramatic and awe-inspiring to modern visitors. Tourists of the 19th century found it equally striking and described the park as a “Wonderland,” a name that has stuck to this day. The natural features of Yellowstone spark a visceral reaction in many to the point that the public often views the park as a pristine wilderness virtually untouched by human artifice. Nevertheless, decades of archeological investigations have revealed an almost continuous human occupation in Yellowstone, one that extends for at least 9000 years into the past.


Cultural Resource Historical Archeologist Historic Site Transportation Company Park Management 
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The development of the tourism model was a by-product of a number of years of archeological investigations by the author and others in Yellowstone National Park after the “Great Fire” of 1988. It was developed as the primary element of Yellowstone’s Archeological Treatment Plan for historic sites and was prepared after months of archival research and consultation with several people who have immersed themselves in the history of the park. Most notable is the late Yellowstone historian Aubrey Haines. Aubrey freely opened his home, mind, and research files to me, providing information he had gathered over a lifetime as a Yellowstone National Park Ranger and park historian. I also often turned to Aubrey’s “children,” the next generation of researchers active in studying Yellowstone history. Prominent among these are former NPS Rocky Mountain Regional Historian Mary (Marcie) Culpin, Yellowstone National Park Resource Naturalist Paul Schullery, and Yellowstone National Park Archivist Lee Whittlesey. Lee, especially, has generously offered his time, information, and access to Yellowstone historical materials. He has reviewed past manuscripts, gently corrected my mistakes, and offered much-needed clarification of details. Guidance in preparation of the original Treatment Plan and opportunities to conduct archeological investigations in the park over the past 16 years was made possible by Yellowstone National Park Archeologist Ann Johnson. My work at Yellowstone and subsequent research into Yellowstone historical archeology was generously supported by MWAC Manager Mark Lynott, former Midwest Archeological Center (MWAC) Chief F.C. “Cal” Calabrese, former MWAC Division Chief for Rocky Mountain Research Douglas Scott, former Rocky Mountain Regional Archeologist Adrienne Anderson, and former Rocky Mountain Regional Architect Rodd Wheaton. Many NPS and concessions employees working in Yellowstone have generously spent time with me and provided information useful in the development of the tourism model and other archeological investigations I was fortunate enough to conduct in the park. I would especially like to mention the late Yellowstone Research Geologist Roderick “Rick” Hutchinson and Yellowstone’s Lake District Ranger John Lounsbury. Finally, I would like to extend my appreciation to PAST Foundation Executive Director Annalies Corbin, co-Principal Investigatory in my most recent Yellowstone research venture at the Marshall/Firehole Hotel site, and for providing this venue for publishing this long-overdue article. Of course, any errors in fact or theory which may occur in this document are entirely my own.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.NPS-Midwest Archeological Center, University of Nebraska-LincolnLincolnUSA

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