Housing tales of Native Americans, outfitters, early entrepreneurs, and curious sightseers, the Old Faithful Area boasts a history as legendary as its natural oddities.
Howard Eaton Trail
Operating as an early park guide and outfitter, Howard Eaton provided horseback tours of the park on a trail that paralleled much of today’s Grand Loop Road. Portions of the trail are still evident, and the route honors Eaton and his commitment to opening Yellowstone to the world. Although seldom used, the Howard Eaton Trail is maintained as a backcountry route leading to Lone Star Geyser.
Lower Hamilton Store
Dating back to 1897 and originally situated 700 feet southwest of Beehive Geyser, the Lower Hamilton Store was constructed as a photo studio for famous park photographer, Frank J. Haynes. Today, the Lower Hamilton Store rests near the crosswalk on Grand Loop Road and is recognized as the oldest Old Faithful Area building still in use. A wooden porch welcomes visitors to soak up the wonderful views of Geyser Hill.
Nez Perce Creek Exhibit
In a tragic flight from their Oregon homeland to an attempted Canadian border crossing, 700 Nez Perce found their way through Yellowstone during the 1877 Nez Perce War. Desperately attempting to flee 600 Army soldiers and outwit U.S. Army General O.O. Howard, the Nez Perce entered the newly established park on August 23, 1877. The men, women, and children wandered the park for two weeks, encountering all twenty-five tourists known to be visiting the park at the time. Hostages were taken, and several of the tourists were injured or killed. As quickly as the Nez Perce arrived in Yellowstone, though, they soon departed on the last leg of their journey to Canada. A few of the Nez Perce did successfully cross the border, but over 350 tribal members surrendered just shy of reaching freedom.
Nez Perce Creek was named in honor of the legendary 1,700-mile journey of the Nez Perce people and their retaliation against encroaching American policies. The roadside exhibit relates the story of this incredible historic tale.
Old Faithful Historic District
The area surrounding Old Faithful Geyser has long catered to tourists with food, lodging, and various other amenities. With development dating back to the dawn of the twentieth century, the Old Faithful Area is home to an official Historic District dedicated to preserving the region’s structural treasures.
Old Faithful Inn
Boasting 327 rooms and rumored to be the world’s largest log structure, the Old Faithful Inn is a National Historic Landmark dating back to 1904. Famous park architect Robert Reamer designed the legendary inn with massive logs, a four-sided rhyolite lobby fireplace, and twisted lodgepole pine balcony railings. Although various informational brochures and individual accounts report the ceiling height as sixty-five, seventy-nine, eighty-four, or ninety-two feet high, it is a known fact that the ceiling’s log rafters cradled a platform where musicians played beautiful strains to entertain the park’s first visitors and hotel guests. With new hotel wings added in 1915 and 1927, the inn expanded to accommodate growing numbers of guests and continues to receive extensive remodeling on a regular basis.
Today, guided tours are available that recount the inn’s incredible construction process and history as the park’s most popular lodging destination. Rooms are still offered with an array of amenities, but advance reservations are required.
Old Faithful Lodge
Today, the Old Faithful Lodge still offers cabin-style accommodations to guests at affordable prices. The lodge also provides a coffee shop, gift store, and cafeteria. Advance reservations are recommended.
Old Faithful Lodge offers a much different atmosphere than the grand Old Faithful Inn but dates back to the same era in park history. When Yellowstone first opened, tent camps were a popular means of hosting park visitors, and the Wylie Permanent Camping Company and Shaw & Powell Camping Company served as primary concessionaires. The tent camp system worked well, as hotels and lodges were initially absent from the park scene. However, when automobiles were allowed into the park, visitor numbers rapidly rose, and a new system for lodging tourists was needed. As permanent overnight lodging popped up around Yellowstone, the camping companies decided to eliminate some of their old camps. At the same time, the Yellowstone Park Camping Company was born, and work began on the rustic Old Faithful Lodge. Finally, after a construction period of ten years, the lodge was completed in 1928 in its present form and offered overnight lodging and laundry services to park guests.