Print Size: 24"x36
It all began in 1804 when Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, under orders from President Thomas Jefferson, organized a "Corps of Discovery" and set off to ascertain exactly what Napoleon had sold the United States. They missed the Yellowstone Wonders because they chose to follow the Missouri rather than the Yellowstone River. However, John Colter spent three years exploring Yellowstone country after parting from Lewis and Clark Expedition.
Then Jim Bridger, history records, was the next white man to give credence to Colter's stories of plumes of water exploding hundreds of feet in the air, cataracts that thundered into impossibly deep canyons, hot pools that could boil fish or rivers that breathed fire. This beginning, eventually, led to the formation of Yellowstone Park when President Grant signed it into law on March 1, 1872.
Transportation was the main problem in viewing these wonders along with the lack of accommodations. Zack Root's Express addressed this opportunity when he started the first stage coach to carry passengers into the park from Bozeman. He carried the "Dudes" over 60 miles of rough trail where convenience was nil unless you were fortunate enough to bring it with you.
Then in the Spring of 1904, the Old Faithful Inn opened its doors. Built and designed by Robert C. Reamer, this Inn still stands today as a monument to a man who created a work of art.
The stage coach and the various hotels built in the Park eased the problem for tourists but the popularity of this location did not begin until President Theodore Roosevelt visited Gardiner, Montana in 1903 where he dedicated a massive basalt-stone archway at the entrance to the park. Yellowstone Park became the place-to-go and visitation surged from 13,727 to 26,188 in 1905.
By 1915, 3000 "hayburners" pulled Yellowstone Coaches, wagons, surreys, formation wagons, spring wagons, freight wagons and grandest-of-all... double decker, 26 passenger Tallyhos. The Tallyho was a "sardine passel" of ladies in frilly frocks and chic chapeaus along with gentlemen in Sunday suits and bowler hats all swathed in linen dusters furnished by the transportation company and hotels.
Security for rooftop passengers depended upon balance, a firm grip on low side rails and the "skinners" expertise in handling horses. These "skinners" were the elite drivers and they, usually, owned the matched team of horses and all the tack. Their skill and a no-frills prayer generally brought them to their destination safely. Eventually the "hayburners" gave way to the "gasburners" with the purchase of White Motor Company Motor Coaches and the sale of the Park's horses to the Canadian Army.
This painting is dedicated to Antone Vern Hansen, the driver portrayed in this original oil.
West Yellowstone, Montana
September 15, 1985
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