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Many of Yellowstone’s historic landmarks are found in the Lake, Bridge Bay, and Fishing Bridge Areas. From lavish hotels to park ranger stations to stunning archaeological finds, this Yellowstone region is inundated with historical places and the stories of the people that frequented the area.
At one time the only eastern entrance into Yellowstone National Park, Fishing Bridge was first constructed in 1902. The historic rough-sawn log bridge was incredibly popular, and anglers from far and wide were drawn to its prime location as a major cutthroat trout spawning area. Drawing its name from the nearly 50,000 anglers who annually flocked to the span, Fishing Bridge became so well-worn that park officials were forced to replace the original structure in 1937. This “new” bridge remains the primary route across the Yellowstone River to date, but fishing access was banned in the 1960s to preserve dwindling numbers of native fish. Today, the bridge serves as a popular fish and wildlife observatory destination.
Fishing Bridge Museum and Visitor Center
The Fishing Bridge Museum and Visitor Center dates back to 1931 and features native stone quarried from a nearby rock outcropping. The rustic structure, which inspired National Park architecture across the country, blends in with its surroundings to accurately reflect the beauty and simplicity of Mother Nature. The popular museum was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987 and is recognized for its extensive wildlife displays.
Lake Village may provide tourists with all the modern amenities they want and need, but the little village situated on Yellowstone Lake’s northwest shore is full of history. From rustic frontier cabins to the glorious Lake Yellowstone Hotel, the buildings comprising Lake Village are an important part of Yellowstone Park’s early heritage.
The Lake Yellowstone Hotel. NPS Photo
The Lake Yellowstone Hotel
Situated on the shores of Yellowstone Lake where mountain men and Native Americans congregated, the Lake Yellowstone Hotel was established in 1891 under the financial backing of the Northern Pacific Railroad. Originally a plain structure featuring a boxy shape, park architect Robert Reamer dreamed of something far grander in welcoming guests to the park’s largest lake. In 1903, Reamer designed the ionic columns and false balconies while extending the roofline in three places. He later masterminded the addition of the hotel’s famous dining room, sunroom, and portico that gave Lake Yellowstone Hotel the majestic image it proudly displays to this day.
Completely renovated and restored with a ten-year project that concluded in 1991, the hotel is now listed as a Nationally Registered Historic Place. Inside, visitors will find high ceilings, large windows offering incredible lake views, a blue-tiled fireplace, a grand staircase, and the gracious atmosphere of a fine 1920s hotel. Rooms are available, but advance reservations are highly recommended.
The Lake Ranger Station
Showcasing a “trapper cabin” architectural style, the Lake Ranger Station was constructed in 1923 as one of Yellowstone’s earliest park operations facilities. The station is famous for its impressive octagonal community room that provided early park visitors with Yellowstone information by day and lively fireplace discussions each evening.
The Lake Lodge
When the admission of automobiles made Yellowstone a destination for the general public as well as the affluent, hordes of visitors streamed through the entrances. In response, Yellowstone was forced to accommodate this growing number of tourists with an array of lodging options in all price ranges. Previously, the Lake Hotel provided posh arrangements for Yellowstone’s most elite visitors while tent camps serviced those who were not afraid of roughing the elements. Park officials knew, however, that many visitors would not feel comfortable in either of these lodging choices, so they created the Lake Lodge. Designed by park architect Robert Reamer, Lake Lodge was completed in 1926 and was an instant success. The lodge is now under the management of Xanterra Parks and Resorts, and rooms are still available. Advance room reservations at this historic lodge are recommended.
Native American Findings
The Mid-West Archaeological Center of the National Park Service recently conducted research along the East Entrance Road and were surprised to discover a cache of archaeological evidence. The findings indicated that Native Americans lived in or frequently traveled through the Lake Village Area nearly 9,600 years ago. Archaeologists located a bison harvest site, a cooking hearth, arrowheads, and mittens.