Print Size: 20.75"x39"
John Colter is credited to being the first white visitor to the Yellowstone country. The area was well known to Indians and was possibly traversed by French Canadians and Hudson Bay trappers before the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The area was known as "Roche Jaune" or Yellow Stone due to the yellowish rock formation in the canyon of the Yellowstone River.
It was a place of great mystery with it's shaking, trembling, scorched earth, steaming geysers, stone trees and brimstone smells. It was an area to pass through quickly. Yellowstone was a buffer area separating Indian adversaries. The ancient Bannock Trail cut a path through Yellowstone for the Western Tribes (Shoshoni, Bannock, Nez Perce) to the buffalo plains and served as both a trade and raiding trail for Crow and Blackfoot.
Since this was a "no-man's land" for Indians (except for a small band of sheepeater Shoshoni's) the Mountain Man found this a comparatively safe haven, even in winter. The warm earth in the geyser area kept the snow depth to a minimum and attracted foraging animals. The boiling springs relieved the arthritic pains of mountain life. All in all Roach Jaune was not a bad place to winter as long as the grizzlies stayed denned.
November 20, 1981
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