Wednesday, August 19, 2015

1911: A landmark hike by Ogdenites through Yellowstone

                                                                A Yellowstone hot pool.

DURING Yellowstone National Park’s early years and four years before the first automobile traversed the area, a group of 40 Ogden residents hiked an estimated 160 miles through the park in the summer of 1911.
“Ogden hikers arrive home” was an Aug. 14, 1911 headline in the Standard-Examiner.
This landmark hike spanned 12 days and was organized by Rev. F. V. Fisher of Ogden. Their trek began just east of today’s West Yellowstone at what was then called “Yellowstone Station.” The party walked to Old Faithful, to Yellowstone Lake, to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and to Mammoth. Then, they returned southwest to their starting point.
The Standard story reported that this was believed to be the largest group to ever hike across Yellowstone to date and it included the largest number of women to ever attempt such a hike there too.

                                    Artist's Point in Yellowstone.

“The unusually large number of walkers attracted attention all along the 160-mile route and soon became known to every party of tourists passing through the park,” the Standard reported.
The Ogden group covered as much as 26 miles in a single day and often hiked at 4 miles per hour for 4-5 hours at a time, with little rest.
There were four Ogden ministers in the group and so Sunday featured plenty of campfire sermons. No member of the party was injured, but a bear did attack a man in a nearby camp. The group also had to maintain vigil at night to prevent bear attacks.

                          The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.

The Ogden hikers also saw a tourist from Michigan slip and slide almost 300 feet down a slope in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, before he stopped himself a thousand feet above the chasm. He had to hang on for an hour until a rope rescue arrived. Another tourist was spotted falling backwards into a hot pool. He was badly scalded and transported to a hospital in Salt Lake City.
-Despite the grizzly bear danger in Yellowstone, the Ogden area had its own bruins to deal with. “Killed a grizzly: Third one this year,” was an Aug. 23, 1910 Salt Lake Tribune headline. A Kaysville man had to kill another grizzly near the mouth of Bair Canyon, with so many of his sheep disappearing.
-“Bear streaks are on Ogden bills of fare: Big grizzly, a Cinnamon and two cubs brought to market” was an Oct. 20, 1908 Tribune headline. A 900-pound bear was killed near Huntsville and others too, to provide many bear steaks in Weber County that fall.
-The Oct. 2, 1887 Standard reported the narrow escape of Edward Bartlett, a sheepherder from North Ogden, from a grizzly bear in the North Fork of the Ogden River area. Bartlett quickly climbed a tree and the bear grabbed his shoe. Fortunately, the sole of the shoe separated and the bear left.
-“Bear disappearing from this state” was a Nov. 20, 1914 Standard headline. Forty-nine bears – including 19 in Cache County -- had been reported killed in Utah that year. Cries were being made to halt bear killings, before they were all wiped out.
-Finally, a Feb. 14, 1914 Standard story reported that L.R. Chace, a veteran trapper, was attacked by a bear in the Ogden area. The animal sunk his teeth into Chace’s thigh, but before doing more damage, the bear choked and let go. Apparently, the bear had gotten a big taste of the plug of chewing tobacco in the man’s pocket and that made him very sick.

 (-Originally published on-line and in print by Lynn Arave in the Ogden Standard-Examiner on Aug. 13-14, 2015.)

-NOTE: The author, Lynn Arave, is available to speak to groups, clubs, classes or other organizations about Utah history at no charge. He can be contacted by email at:

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