Since it became the world's first national park in 1872, Yellowstone has welcomed tourists from all corners of the globe who returned to their hometowns and countries with reports of this American wonderland. Stories from the park's earliest visitors began to spread so rapidly that by 1897 Yellowstone became solidly established as a successful tourist destination with more than ten thousand tourists passing through its entrances. Travelers in the park's first years faced long, dusty, and tediously slow stagecoach trips and could choose only between rather primitive hotels and tent camps for their overnight accommodations. Devoured by nineteenth-century readers, many of the narratives from this era are long forgotten today and are only gradually being recovered from historical archives. Park historians Lee Whittlesey and Elizabeth Watry have combed thousands of firsthand accounts, selecting nineteen tales that offer unique and engaging perspectives of visitors during Yellowstone's stagecoach era. From an 1873 newspaper serial that represents one of the earliest park's recorded trips to the 1914 ""Little Journey"" that popular writer Elbert Hubbard took with his wife Alice, the chronicles included here reveal the enduring captivation that Yellowstone held in the popular imagination, as it does today.
Lee Whittlesey is the historian for Yellowstone National Park and author of dozens of books and articles on the history of Yellowstone, including Storytelling in Yellowstone: Horse and Buggy Tour Guides (UNM Press). Elizabeth Watry will soon receive her MA in history from Montana State University and is the author of Women in Wonderland. Whittlesey and Watry co-wrote Images of America: Yellowstone National Park.