A TRIP THROUGH YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK IN 1896
Edit date: 11 January 1997
By Emmaline R.(Current) Bird
The attached document was generated from a copy of the original hand written journal. I
felt it was almost a duty to remind all of us, of some of the things our ancestors did. In
this case, written notes were kept on a fantastic trip. I personally feel, this is a real part of
our heritage. This is a written narration of an arduous and exciting trip through our
countries first National Park in the year 1896. These people were my ancestors..
I have no way of knowing the educational background of Emmaline R.(Current) Bird.
Her "diary", showed she was an excellent speller (better than the editor). She did not
however, use punctuation as we would use it. She ended many sentences without using a
"period", and began most of them without Capitalization. As you can imagine, this made
it difficult to interpret some of the meanings. The original document was written in pencil,
which made it difficult to read in some areas. This caused some concern as to the meaning
of some sentences. We left many of the words as she spelled them, as long as the meaning remained.
I have, with the aid of my brother, William W. (Bill) Everling, been able to re-do the diary
without harming the content.
See a brief "thumbnail" sketch on the life of Emmaline R. (Current) Bird.
ABOUT EMMALINE R. (CURRENT) BIRD:
She was the Great Grandmother of the Everlings, on our Mothers side of the family.
Her Husband was Lewis Bird.
One of her daughters, was our Grandmother, Flora E. Bird who married Charles L.
They had six (6) children, one of whom was our Mother, Florence Pearl Mougey.
Emmaline mentions the following people in her diary, as those who made the trip.
She talks about these people in very familiar terms, so I have to guess they were all family
relations, except one person that is called out as a friend of the family.
PAPA is her Husband Lewis.
WILL (this is a guess) is the Husband of her daughter, Rachel J. (William P. Webster).
ELMO (guessing) is the son of Will (Lewis Elmo Webster).
KATIE or Catherine J. Mougey (again a guess) is the daughter of Charles C. and Sarah J.
Mougey. Katie's Brother, Charles L. Mougey married Flora E. Bird who of course was
our Mother's Mother.
Mr. COLICA was a friend of the family (The spelling of his name is not clear in the
HESSER'S: Emmaline's sister, Arah Matilda was married to William J. Hesser
Charles R. Everling (Great Grandson)
AS DERIVED FROM THE "NOTEBOOK" DIARY OF
Mrs. Louis (Emmaline R. Current) Bird
On Monday morning August 17th 1896, we were astir early with high
expectations to get started on a journey to the Yellowstone Park.
It rained some in the morning and there were many things to get together, for we
were going horseback and carrying our effects on pack horses and donkeys.
So the time passed and we did not get started till nearly three in the afternoon.
We all mounted our horses and started off single file.
Will took the lead, your Papa next, then myself and Katie, the packs coming in
after her, and Elmo and Mr. Colica (a young man that went with us) bringing up
We traveled ten miles that evening and camped for the night. It was rather novel
for us, as it was our first experience "camping out". It rained some that night and
of course we did not sleep very much that night, for every little noise would waken
us, and I was afraid of snakes.
Tuesday August 18th
We were up early, had our breakfast and were ready to start before Seven.
We traveled about two hours on a beautiful valley, and crossed the river (South
fork of the Stinking Water) and started up through the Mountains. We went up a
lovely stream called "The Ishawooa", and followed it all the way to the summit
where it finds it's source in a bed of snow.
That 18th day of Aug. will always be remembered by our party. It being the
hardest days travel on our trip.
We went on the margin of the river when there was room, but when the hills
crowded the stream, we went upon the sides of the hills. Not on a road but a trail
not more than a foot wide. Of course these places were narrow, not more than 1/2
Then we would come down to the river again. We had to cross some awful "Wash
out's" which cloud bursts or water spouts had made. The dirt and rocks had been
thrown out from 8 to 10 feet.
It was rather hard traveling over these places, at least I found it so, as I had not
become an expert on horse back yet.
About noon, we came to a nice little meadow where Will said we could stop for
dinner. The boys went to the river to get some fish, but Will would not wait for
the fish. He knew what we had before us and wanted to get started. On we
In an hour or so we had a pretty rough steep trail. Some of it was so steep I
preferred walking. Your Papa would get down and walk with me. Some times
We saw a gap in the Mountain that we thought would take us through, and we
would find it more level. The gap was so steep and rocky, I thought, than I would
walk through it. Will had gone ahead and was out of sight.
Well we started up, but in stead of going through, it went up-up-up. I had about
given out when Will came to my rescue. He had a long rope and placed it double
around my waist. He took hold of the ends, told me to keep on my feet and he
would take me up, so I got along real well. But it was rather tough on the boy.
We were about two hours getting over and when we were near the top, it rained a
heavy shower, such as it can only in the mountains. We stopped under a big pine
tree. We were all very tired when we got into camp.
Although the days travel had been hard for us, we had seen some of the finest
mountain scenery in the West. I would not have it blotted out of my memory for
all the hard ships it cost us.
We camped that night in a little flat near the Ishawooa and another river or stream
that came down from the mountains.
Now you wonder how we can be on the same stream after passing over a high
mountain. Well if you could have seen the beautiful water falls we (have) seen,
you would not wonder.
That evening the boys picked up some red raspberries for supper. They were like
those fine choice ones of Hessers. I tell you the berries and the fish the boys got
at noon, with what we had made a fine repast.
Wednesday August 19th
This morning we got up very much refreshed, had our breakfast and were ready to
start about nine.
I, will sure say Will was guide, cook, and did most of the packing, as the boys are
new hands, and it takes just about an hour to pack.
We had such a hard drive the day before, we concluded to take only one drive that
day, and we came into camp about two o'clock, but we had a nice days travel.
We had only one bad place that was on a side hill when there was loose shaley
rocks for about 1/4 of a mile. We had a lovely place to camp on a nice meadow
between two mountains, where there were plenty of wild strawberries and the
pasture was grand for the horses.
It was fortunate for us that it was such a nice place, for we had to stay over till
Friday, on account of the rain.
Here we are in sight of the summit and the head of the Ishawooa, about 900 yards
from our tent.
We saw where a bear had slept the night before, and the first night we were there,
a mountain lion came near enough to play with one of the colts, but we had a good
dog that kept everything away from camp.
Thursday August 20th
Was in camp all day and in sight of tons of snow.
Friday August 21st
Still clouds this morning but left camp at ten to go over the summit as it leaves the
lovely stream we have been following since Tuesday morning.
The hill we go over is steep and long but not rocky. It took just and hour from the
time we started up till we got on the top where the snow was plentiful.
It was not cold and the snow was melting till there was quite a stream running
from it. But Will said it never all went off.
We stopped to rest a little and had a lovely view toward the North West.
We commenced going down, but it was so gradual we hardly noticed it. We had
not gone far when we had another shower and snow mixed with it. It rains so
easily in the mountains. We traveled on till about one o'clock when we saw a
drove of elk. Will killed one of them and we camped so as to dress it. Our
camping place was on one branch of the Yellowstone above the lake.
Saturday August 22nd
After a refreshing nites sleep, we arose and prepared for another days travel which
would finish out the first week.
The morning was bright and clear.
We traveled down the Yellowstone toward the lake. The fore noon was beautiful
and the trail splendid, but in the afternoon it was not so good.
We had to cross a flat swampy country. The springs were in the foot hills. We
would have to go way up around them and then back down on the flat that was
covered with low willows that was very disagreeable to ride through.
We traveled till almost six o'clock before we found a fit camping place to stay over
Sunday. But we came to a nice place on the main Yellowstone above the lake.
The boys caught some fish. The first we had since Tuesday, and Will dug a hole
in the gravel to bake some beans.
He built a big fire in the hole and when it got hot and full of coals, he had some
beans ready, put them in the crock over filled with water. Took out part of the
coals, set the oven on the rest and covered it tight and piled the coals on top of the
cover and dirt on the coals. The next morning we had some good baked beans.
Sunday August 23rd
On Sunday the boys went out on the bank of the river and found some specimens
of petrified wood. Katie and I stayed in camp all day and rested. It was real cool
Monday August 24th
We enjoyed it so much, but glad when Monday morning 24 came so we could
resume our journey. After the usual routine of the morning, we started on again.
We had not gone far when we came in sight of a fine large deer. We got very near
to it but as we were in the limits of the Park, we dare not shoot, so we passed him
We soon came to a surveying outfit, the first sight of human beings since we left
home. They had two women, wives of two of the surveyors.
There was nothing eventful happened that day. We had nice weather and was in
the timber most of the day. The loveliest pine trees, almost higher than one could
see. Straight as an arrow and without a limb till nearly the top.
In the afternoon we saw the Yellowstone lake for the first time. It is much larger
than I expected to see. We got to its banks in the evening and camped for the
It was such a lovely sight for me as it was the first large body of water I had ever
seen. It is 7741 feet above sea level. There were a great many pelicans on the
lake. They looked on the water like little sail boats, they were so large. We had a
good view of the lake from where we camped.
Tuesday August 25th
Early this morning, Will saw where someone was camping about 1/2 mile below
us, and our provisions were getting low. He went to see them, supposing they
were keeping a commissary and he could get a supply. Two men came back with
him to camp and said they dare not sell anything but if we would go with them,
they would keep it a secret, for if it would be found out, it would give them
We left camp about 10 o'clock and went over a high hill and came down on the
lake shore near the water, where we traveled 6 or 8 miles. Pretty soon after we
reached the shore we saw a boat out on the water. We saw they were trying to
head us off . When it came near we all stopped and they landed.
They were soldiers and came to examine our packs to find out if we had been
killing anything or getting any commissary goods. So those fellows would have
been found out if Will had not taken the pains to remove all labels from the goods
and they could not tell them from any other goods.
Though they found the boys guns were not sealed and took them from them. It is
the rules of the park to have all guns sealed when entering the park, but as we had
not passed a sealing station of course ours were not sealed. It caused us some
trouble and delay, of which I will hear after.
We had dinner on the lake shore, and then started up through the timber, which
was a grand sight. We traveled rather late that evening expecting to get a nice
place to camp, but was disappointed.
We crossed a nice little stream and stopped at a horrid gloomy place in the timber.
It was the best we could do, but we didn't any of us like it. Not even the horses,
for in the night they went off and started on the back trail, but they did not go far
and we got them with out much trouble, and was ready to leave camp.
Wednesday August 26th
At 7:30 we went up through the timber and early in the fore noon, we came to a
place where it was so steep, and the timber had fallen across the trail. We seemed
to be at a stopping place, but we all got off our horses and climbed down the best
It would be impossible for me to describe the place on paper, but we all finally got
down alive and without accident, and had our first sight of hot springs.
They were real small, not more than two or three feet across. We thought they
were wonderful, but Will laughed at us and told us to come on, they were not
worth looking at, and they were insignificant when compared with what we saw
We soon came down on the lake again and found lots of nice raspberries. We got
off and picked enough for dinner.
We crossed over a high point that is called Steam Boat Point.
It was awfully grand. The steam came out of the side next to the lake, and so
much steam. The hill or mountain seemed to be all rock, and the holes where the
steam came out of were in the rocks.
We crossed above all this steam on a narrow trail. Will got off and led my horse
across. I suppose he thought it would keep me from being scared. I was not
scared till we got passed and I looked back and "oh my", it was awful. I wouldn't
pass it again for money. All that afternoon we had a hard trail. Anyone that ever
went through down(ed) timber in a pine forest can have some idea of what we had,
and we were glad when night found us on the bank of the Yellowstone river below
the lake, where we camped for the night.
Thursday August 27th
We forded the river this morning. It almost frightened me, as I am afraid of water.
It came up to the stirrups and I don't know how wide. It may be 50 yards or 100, I
can't tell, and runs so swift. When we got across, we had to go up the river nearly
as far as across it to where the bank was, so the horses could get out.
But your Papa, Katie and I got off and climbed up the steep stony bank, rather than
ride any more in the river.
As soon as we were on top of the bank, we were in the Park proper, where they
have nice graded roads.
We had left the trail behind us forever on the other side of the river, but we are not
sorry we came over the trail through the mountains.
For we saw sights we could not have seen, had we come the wagon road. But we
decided to go home on the road.
There is but one wagon road that goes into the Park (except the stage road from
Cinnabar) and that goes in from the N.E. corner.
After we went over into the park, we went about a mile and went into camp. We
were four miles from Lake Hotel.
Will had to go there to see about the guns. When he got there, the captain was
away and the soldiers could not seal them, for it was not a sealing station, or give
them up. Neither could they let us go, so we had nothing else to do but wait.
We camped the first night where there was a haying outfit camping. There were 4
or 5 tents of them. That night there was a bear into camp. It came to our tent first
as we were nearest the timber, but our dog ran it off. It went to the next tent and
helped himself to what it wanted. Sugar, lard, preserves, and other things. The
tent was kind of a kitchen where no one slept.
Friday August 28th
This A.M. we concluded to go near the soldiers quarters where we could see more
and could keep better posted concerning our delay. We camped on a beautiful
elevation near the soldiers camp and not far from the Hotel.
Our outfit went to the Hotel. While we were there, an artist brought out his
camery (camera) and took our pictures, packs and all.
He promised to send us one.
The place where we camped was a general camping ground. There were 19 or 20
tents, and must have been a 100 people there that night. It seemed rather lively to
what we had been used to.
Saturday August 29th
At 8 this A.M. we went to the lake to take a boat ride. The captain of the boat,
came into camp the evening before and told us they would start at 8, and go 19
miles to Dot Island where they kept animals.
We all went and had a nice time. Saw Buffaloes, Elk, Mountain sheep. One of
the sheep had been hand raised in captivity.
This was one of the pleasures of our trip. We got back to camp with our guns and
were ready to start on our way by noon.
We got to the Mud Geyser about 2 o'clock. It is a wonderful sight. We could hear
it boiling for more than half a mile, and could see the steam before we could hear
it. It is on the side of a hill, perhaps 80 feet across and a formation 8 or 9 feet high
around it. We could go on this and look in. The dark gray mud seemed to boil out
from under a great rock and then fall back. It was awful.
Just below it was a boiling spring, not quite so large, but acted about the same
way. It came from under a great rock, and boiled up. The water was as clear as
But why need I attempt to describe these wonderful works of nature. No one can
There were 30 or 40 visitors at the same place, while we were there. We stayed
about half an hour, and if it had been the only place we wanted to see, we could
have enjoyed it longer.
But there was more ahead, so we started on and traveled 10 miles that afternoon
and came to the Grand Canyon Hotel, near the Yellowstone Falls. There are three
falls. The Upper, Lower and Crystal. Two are on the Yellowstone river. The
Crystal comes out from a rock. It must have sunk in the ground some where we
did not see and came out under the road. It was a lovely sight.
We camped about half a mile from the Hotel and stayed over Sunday.
Sunday August 30th
We went out a while in the morning to get a better view of the falls. We went to
Lookout Point and had a very good view, but it commenced to rain and we had to
get back to camp. It rained most of the day.
Monday August 31st
This morning was clear and cool. We started early for Norris Basin, the next place
of interest. The roads are splendid through the park and we traveled rather slow.
A little before noon we came to the Gibbon river where we saw the Virginia
Cascade. It is a lovely, nearly 100 feet long and about 30 degree slope. The water
is a white foam.
On the other side of the road was a solid rock wall. There was just enough room
between the wall and the falls for the road, and outside next (to) the river was
banistered to prevent accidents.
We stopped for dinner this side of Norris and then went on through the basin. We
did not stop long as we expected to pass it again.
There is one Geyser near the road that frightened me. There was a continued
escape of steam, more than a dozen engines could blow off at once, and made a
noise you could hear for 2 or 3 miles. We could not see any water escape, but the
road was muddy all the time. We went to camp that night on Gibbon Meadows
about four miles from this basin.
Tuesday Sept 1st
We left camp this A. M. for Upper Geyser Basin. Twenty nine miles from Norris.
We went through the Lower and Midway basin. At the Lower Basin, we saw the
Mammoth Paint Pots and several other geysers off in the distance. The paint pots
is a great large basin of mud of different colors that bubble up like thin mush.
Each color by itself, they do not mix.
At Midway basin we saw the wonderful Excelsior. Its eruption is 250 ft. But at
long intervals, some years between times.
It is only the fortunate ones that get to see it play. Although the boiling water is
flowing out in three great streams, enough to make quite a river.
The Turquoise springs is beautiful, of a bluish color, and is 100 ft. in diameter.
Then the Prismatic lake is wonderful, it is 25 ft. one way and 350 ft the other.
These springs or boiling lakes run into the Firehole river and of course keeps it's
We got to Upper basin a little past six in the evening, and went into camp just
beyond Old Faithful. A very noted geyser from its continual faithful eruptions. It
plays every 70 minutes and throws up water 150 feet. It's duration is from 5 to 15
We all went out to see him play before we had our supper.
Wednesday Sept 2nd
This day we spent around the geyser and boiling springs of this basin. Some of
them played at regular intervals, others were irregular and of course some
important ones we did not get to see play. We saw Old Faithful several times,
the Lioness, and one of the cubs, the Economy, the Sawmill, the Castle, and Castle
well, and several others that I forget their names.
The boiling springs are so pretty, almost every color you can see. The formations
are grand. It seems to me we could have stayed two weeks and seen something
new every hour, but time was passing, and we had to go.
We left in the evening in time to get back to Midway, about 6 miles from here.
We camped that night near Excelsior.
Thursday Sept 3rd
We leave camp this A.M. to travel the same road we came over Tuesday. It is a
lovely road. We go down the Firehole river to near where it empties into the
Gibbon river. Then we go up the Gibbon, through a lovely canyon where we pass
the Gibbon Falls and the Soda Springs.
The boys got off to take a drink of it. Some of them liked it, but I did not. We
passed Beryl Springs. There are hot springs near the road. They are beautiful.
We got back to Norris to camp that night and as I was real tired and had seen so
much, I stayed in camp, but your Papa, Katie, and Will went out to the basin to see
Old Monarch play. He plays twice in 24 hours, and his time was about 9 o'clock,
though he varies, some times and hour. They had to wait until 10, but they felt
well, for it was the grandest sight they had seen. At the Norris basin, we saw the
Minute Man, the Black Growler (it is the one that throws the steam), the new
crater, the Vixen and several others that were just as grand.
Friday Sept 4th
We started this A.M. for the Mammoth Hot Springs. A distance of 20 miles. The
roads were nice and the day cool. The first we came to of note were the Twin
Lakes. They are small but are so near alike. One is littler than the other. Then the
Roaring Mountain. There are some Geysers on the top of it, that makes a roaring
noise from whence it gets its name, and the Beaver Lake. It is full of willows and
Beaver dams. We next came to Obsidian Cliff. It is a curiosity. On the (one)
nearest the road, it looks like black glass. On the other side, the rocks are of
different colors. We got some specimens of both. We stopped for dinner on
Obsidian Creek, near the famous Apollinarus Springs. Will got some fish for
dinner. They were the Rainbow trout, and very fine. In the evening when we
were (with) in 4 miles of the Mammoth Springs, we came in to the Golden Gate.
It is a (man) made road winding through the canyon. I suppose it is about 1 1/2
miles from the entrance to the foot or outlet, and we went down 1100 feet. It is
very narrow and the road is cut out of solid rock. Often it is not more than 20 feet
till it makes a turn and at all of these, the road is made wide enough for wagons to
pass. The side next to the precipice is all banistered to prevent accidents. The
Glen Creek runs through the canyon. It is a lovely sight to see how fast it falls.
This road cost the government $14000. We camped about a mile from the springs.
Saturday Sept 5th
This A.M. we went to the Springs, they are not half so grand as some we had seen,
but the formations are so high and large, I suppose that is why they are called
We went to the Soldiers quarters and saw them on parade. It was rather amusing.
We got a supply of provisions and was ready to start on our homeward journey.
We had been wonderfully entertained but was glad to get started home. Our
journey would be on the wagon road that had been well traveled. There had been
7000 people visited the Park, and registered before us, and a great many had come
over this road. We traveled 20 miles that day, and camped near Yanceys on the
Yellowstone, the only residents of the Park. We were in sight of Mt. Washburn
and several other prominent mountains. During the day we had a lovely place to
camp and expected to stay over Sunday. The boys caught a lot of fish. In the
evening Elmo took sick and Sunday morning, there was a lady came to our camp
in a buggy, going to Cook city. She offered to take him with her so we than
thought it best to let him go, and we had to travel part of Sunday, to get to Cook on
Monday. (editors note; She spelled it as "Cook" and not "Cooke")
Sunday Sept 6th
We left camp at 10 A.M. and traveled 15 miles. Went into camp at 4 P.M.. We
went most of the way, without crossing any streams. We saw a large drove of
Antelope. There must have been 25 or 30. We were still in sight of Mt.
Washburn. It is a very high peak. We passed Fossil Forest.
We could see some of the petrified stumps. We camped at Soda Butte near where
the soldiers have their quarters, and 15 miles from the Park limits, and 20 miles
Monday Sept 7th
We left camp early and went up through a lovely canyon. After we had been
traveling several miles, we came to some funny little cabins. I kept wondering
what they were for. They were uninhabitable. Finally Will said they belonged to
miners, but were vacated now. Cook city is a silver mining town. There were not
more than 15 or 20 houses, and they are all log cabins, and a horrid looking place.
They are not doing much mining now but I suppose they think if they get a "free
silver President", things will liven up. But I don't see how it can when there is no
Rail Road near, nor never can be till the Government will let them have one
through the Park. We got to Cook about 3 o'clock and found Elmo better and able
to travel. And as we were on the homeward stretch, we did not tarry long, but
went on 9 or 10 miles farther and camped on a nice meadow on Clarks Fork,
where there was a little forest of pine extended into the meadow. It misted rain
that night and we were afraid we would be caught in a storm.
Tuesday Sept 8th
This day we passed through some rough country. We passed two ranches, one a
hay, the other cattle. The boys tried to get some butter, but could not. It was real
cold and cloudy all day and the wind blew hard in some places, but we did not
suffer much. We had on plenty of clothing and put on the men's over coats. It
snowed some in the after noon. We traveled rather late that evening as we were
looking for a stream, and wanted to get as near home as we could. We camped on
a little stream near the timber and had some more cooked beans that night.
Wednesday Sept 9th
Got up this morning and found about 3 inches of snow and still snowing, and we
were 60 or 70 miles from home, and a hard days travel before us. It stopped
snowing and we left camp about nine. Early in the day we went over a steep high
hill and came down on Cradle Creek, and crossed it and Sunlight creek, and at
noon we came to Dead Injun (Indian) hill. The snow had all gone off before we
got to the hill, and it was not one bit muddy. I could not see where it went to.
When we crossed Sunlight creek, we stopped and got some nice raspberries.
It was a good thing, for we did not stop for dinner that day.
We started up the hill at just 12 o'clock and it was 15 minutes past one when we
got to the top.
When we were about half way up we came into a snow cloud. The snow was 3 or
4 inches deep and the clouds so dense we could not see the back horses, when we
were in front. After we went over the summit, we went down more gradual.
It must have been 4 o'clock before we got down below the cloud. It did look so
strange but we regretted very much that it happened so. We wanted so much to
see Dead Injun (Indian) hill, that we had heard so much about.
We went on to Mr. Chapmans ranch that night. Will thought it best for your Papa,
Katie and I to sleep in a house, as it was rather stormy and of course we did not
object. Mrs. C. is a lovely, and made it as pleasant as possible for us. They have a
large cattle ranch and Mr. C. had gone to Chicago with I don't know how many car
loads of beef cattle. They have the largest ranch in this part of Wyoming. She
gave katie 5 or 6 pounds of butter, (she would not need it).
Thursday Sept 10th
We started for home about 10 in the morning and arrived at home all sound and
well at 9:15 at night. A distance of more than 40 miles from Chapmans.
We were so thankful to the God of Love that we had been preserved through all
the hardships and danger we have gone through.
Out of the 25 days we had been out, we had rested 7 and traveled more than 350
miles on horse back and not been sick a moment. And after a few days rest, we
felt none the worse of our trip.
We saw many wonderful things and are so thankful we were permitted to see the
wonderful Yellowstone Park, and to go the way we did.
We stood the trip so well, of course we were tired many times, but always felt
rested in the morning, after sleeping on the hard ground at night.
I suppose we were the only couple 65 years old, that ever visited there on horse
back and traveled the distance we did.
We were complimented several times on account of our nerve and bravery while
we were at the Park.
Mr. and Mrs. Louis Bird
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