Private Parties Explore Yellowstone

In 1869, a group of adventurers made preparations for the first official exploration of Yellowstone. Although the lack of a military escort warded off a few potential explorers who feared Indian attacks, three brave men weathered the situation and fearlessly pursued the thirty-six day expedition. David Folsom, Charles W. Cook, and William Peterson entered the park, encountered no hostile Indians, and returned to civilization armed with tales of a landscape unlike any other. When Folsom created an area map with surveyor Walter DeLacy and wrote an article for the Western Monthly magazine, national interest surged.

One year later, General Henry D. Washburn led his own party to the area with the accompaniment of military scout Lieutenant Gustavus C. Doane. Politician and park system promoter Nathaniel Langford also joined the influential men on what would be a life-changing journey. After their exploration, the men adamantly lobbied Congress for the establishment of Yellowstone as a national park. Langford garnered support for the cause with a series of lectures and articles appearing in Scribner’s Monthly while Doane produced a detailed Yellowstone report for Congress’ benefit. It would take one year, however, for Congress to respond to the increasing societal call for preservation.

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