An Event: I’m Ready for My Eastern Montana Tour

Wading in Fountain Geyser, c. 1906

Wading in Fountain Geyser, c. 1906

I’ve been getting ready — making slide shows and writing scripts — for my Eastern Montana Tour. I’ll be making my Humanities Montana presentation, “Sidesaddles and Geysers: Women’s Adventures in Early Yellowstone,” at three different places in August. I’m really looking forward spending time in a section of Montana that I’ve never seen before and visiting some great museums.

 August 9, 6 p.m., MonDak Heritage Center, Sidney, Montana

• August 12, 7:30 p.m., Wibaux Museum, Wibaux, Montana

• August 13, 7 p.m., Wibaux Public Library, Wibaux, Montana

• August 14, 7 p.m., Range Riders Museum, Miles City, Montana.

For the tour, I’ve picked some of the very best tales from my collection of more than 300 first-person accounts of early travel to Yellowstone Park. Here’s an outline of what I’ll be presenting at the three museums.

I’ll begin with stories my grandmother used to tell about her trip to the park in 1909 and her grandfather’s trip there in 1883. Grandma went to the park with her aunt, two brothers and seven cousin. Family lore has it that they took a cow with them to provide milk for the younger children. Grandma told about baking bread in a hot spring and said her father tossed her uncle’s red flannel underwear into Old Faithful to die it pink.

Then I’ll tell stories about the first women to visit Yellowstone Park. These brave ladies literally rode sidesaddle through the roadless wilderness in the 1870s. One of the most chilling stories is Emma Cowan’s tale of being captured by Indians in the park. Emma and her family went there in 1877, the year the Nez Perce fled their homeland in hopes of finding freedom in the buffalo country. Emma wrote a gripping account of watching Indians shoot her husband, George, in the head, and leaving him for dead, taking her, her sister and their brother captive.

After recounting Emma’s story, I’ll slow the pace with a different kind of adventure—Carrie Strahorn’s story about when she was caught in an October snowstorm at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

Then I’ll tell the store of a treacherous climb down Uncle Tom’s Trail that nearly ended with a woman tumbling down the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. I’ll end with a bit of humor—the story of budding romance when travelers who met on a six-day coach tour have a tough time saying good-bye.

That should leave time for questions, and maybe an encore. After all, I have a collection of more than 300 stories of early travel to Yellowstone Park that I could share. After the talk, of course, I’ll be available to sell and sign copies of my book, Adventures in Yellowstone.

Because I’ll be making two presentations in Wibaux, I assembled a second slide show and script. Here’s an outline of what I’ll present at the Wibaux Public Library.

I’ll begin by talking about my books on early travel to Yellowstone Park:

• Adventures in Yellowstone: Early Travelers Tell Their Talesan anthology of a dozen classic tales including Truman Evert’s tale of being lost alone in the Yellowstone wilderness for 37 days, and Emma Cowan’s story of being captured by Indians.

• Macon’s Perfect Shota mid-grade novel about a 14-year-old boy who has to use his wits to save the life his traveling companion after the man tumbles into a geyser.

• The Stories of Yellowstone: Adventure Tales from the World’s First National Park: a collection of 72 short stories covering the period from the early 1800s when mountain men first marvels at Yellowstone’s wonders until the 1920s when genteel matrons sped between luxury hotels in their touring cars.

Then I’ll read about John Colter, the first white man to visit the area that became Yellowstone Park, and his famous naked run to escape 500 furious Blackfeet Indians.

After that, I’ll tell about Truman Everts, who was lost alone in the Yellowstone wilderness for 37 days in 1870, and I’ll read his story about being Treed by a Lion.

If there’s time, I’ll read the Earl of Dunraven’s hilarious description of How to Pack and Mule and Ernest Thompson Seton’s adventure watching bears fight at a hotel dump.

Of course, I could go on for hours about early travel to Yellowstone, but I’ll want to leave time to answer questions and sign books.

I’m really looking forward to seeing sights along the way and visiting several of Montana’s great museums.  I hope I’ll see you at one or more of these events.

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