Sunday, September 18, 2011

West Yellowstone Historic Center and Museum

 The West Yellowstone Historic Center and Museum is a great stop to learn about the early days of Yellowstone as well as the town of West Yellowstone. Located close to our RV park, we were surprised at the many exhibits and the low, $5 cost of admission. Here, Orinda considers an early 1900s baggage cart that was actually used here by travelers getting ready to enter the park.

One very interesting exhibit focuses on the early aviation routes into West Yellowstone and the park. Since we are at about 6,000' in elevation, the summers are pretty short and the winter is pretty long. As a result, many of the aircraft first coming into the area had to use skis such as these Orinda is taking a look at.

 These skis had an interesting story. These were actually used as shown int he picture of the monoplane above. After this time, the skis were stored in an airport employee's attic until recently when they were found and donated to the museum. These skis have some great stories to tell.

 While aircraft were the coming thing in the late 1930's and beyond, the real transportation heroes of the early days were the railroads. Indeed, the museum is actually housed in the old Union Pacific depot for West Yellowstone. In the early days, hundreds of tourists arrived by train several times a day to stay in the town, and then tour the park over the next few days or weeks. This old photo shows that some of the early railroads were a bit tenuous in nature -- this trestle looks much like some of Rick's old Erector construction set projects.

 Once you arrived at the park in, say 1905, there was the question of how you traveled from west Yellowstone to, say Old Faithful. Today, we think nothing of taking our car on the 30 mile trip, but imagine climbing up into this original stage to travel on the rutted dirt roads of the day for a long, bumpy ride into the park.

 Are you on a budget? If so, the stage fare might be a bit steep, so perhaps you would prefer this more basic wagon for the trip. Remember, according to pictures of travelers of the day that we saw, you would be sure to ride the wagon, on the dusty road, in your coat and tie. So, you would likely take up the wagon driver's offer to rent a duster to keep your clothes at least semi clean.  Hmmmm .... Orinda and Rick thought that our Buick looked pretty good to us and we enjoyed wearing our jeans.

 WHOA! Look out Orinda! This huge grizzly looked pretty mean, but fortunately, in his current, stuffed condition, is not much of a threat now. Still, look at those claws. We have seen grizzlies on earlier trips into the park, but this fellow is the only bear we saw this time.

Rick is reflecting on the difference between this early railway freight cart and his 42' Tour motorhome. While this is certainly a bit simpler to maintain, Rick thinks he will stay with the motorcoach. The museum was a great visit and we enjoyed taking a look into the Yellowstone travel of an earlier time. We wondered if, in 100 years, folks will look back at our RV and wondering how we lived as we did thinking about the folks we saw in the pictures.

No comments: