America has long been confused about whether nature is for us to adore and enjoy, or for us to profit from. This confusion has been painfully clear in our divisive attitudes toward national parks.
The earliest detailed map of Yellowstone was likely a collaboration between Jesuit missionary Pierre-Jean De Smet and mountain man Jim Bridger. ♨
Mountain man Joe Meek’s first summer of fur trapping in 1829, which put him among the earliest of non-indigenous people to enter Yellowstone.
An imaginative creation story of Yellowstone National Park inspired by scientific understandings of the universe.
When I mention that I am working on a history of religion in Yellowstone National Park, people are often puzzled. They usually say something like, “Is there religion in Yellowstone?” And then they might remark, “Oh, you must mean Native Americans.” “Yes,” I reply, “I will include something about how Native American people regarded the […]
Journalists and many historians like to say that Yellowstone reigns as America’s, indeed the world’s, first national park. Yellowstone’s standing as originator of national parks, though, comes with some contingency. At least two parks came before Yellowstone, an easily ignored fact that sometimes shows up as a footnote in the accounts of more astute historians. […]
Happy centennial day for the National Park Service! On August 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson took up his pen and made official the National Park Service Organic Act. To be clear, Wilson’s autograph did not originate our national parks system. That distinction goes to the establishment of Yellowstone in 1872, or to federal protection of […]
No moose at these falls, at least not when I have been there. Too steep, too close to a highway buzzing with autos and motorhomes, even a motorcycle or two, or a whole gang now and then. Refreshing deep waters at their base make these more like summer swimmer falls, inviting on hot days for […]
In his affectionate review of author Michael Frome’s corpus of writings about national parks, Alfred Runte asks, “Why do we have national parks?” Runte summarizes Frome’s insistent answer: “Because every generation deserves to have them. They are not for the economy; they are rather for the soul of the country. They are all about keeping […]
History remembers Jesuit priest Pierre-Jean De Smet primarily as the missionary who brought Catholicism west to the northern Rocky Mountain region of the United States. His first entry into the region where he would have his most lasting impact came on a reconnaissance tour in the summer of 1840. ♨