I’ve been working hard to put the final touches on my presentation Thursday to the President’s Fine Arts Series of the Montana State University.  My title is “Bozeman to Wonderland: Early Trips to Yellowstone Park.”

I think of myself more as a collector and teller of stories than as a historian. With that in mind, I’ve picked stories with a Bozeman connection that exemplify different Yellowstone experiences.  I’ll put them in context and read excerpts — either from first-person accounts that I’ve collected, or from my own writing.

My outline looks like this:

An introduction explaining my interest in early travel to Yellowstone Park with stories my grandmother used to tell about her trip there in 1909 and her grandfather’s trip in 1882.

The Mountain Man Era with an excerpt from William Bradbury’s account of Colter’s Run in 1807, when Indians stripped a trapper naked and ordered him to run for his life.

The Prospectors Era when treasure hunters rushed past Yellowstone’s wonders to scour every gully and gulch for gold.

The Era of Exploration when prominent citizens set out to confirm fantastic reports of the wonders of the upper Yellowstone with excerpts from Truman Everts chilling story of being alone in the Yellowstone wilderness for 37 days.

First Tourists when Montana pioneers set out to see the wonders for themselves with stories about Emma Stone, a Bozeman matron who was the first woman to take a complete tour of the park in 1872, and Sarah Tracy (Bozeman’s Tracy Avenue is named for her husband), who left a marvelous reminiscence of her trip to the park in 1874.

War in Wonderland 1877 when the Nez Perce Indians left their homelands in Idaho and Washington and fled through Yellowstone Park.  I’ll read a chapter from my next book telling about Emma Cowan’s 31-hour ride with a team and wagon to join her husband when she learned he had survived after an Indian shot him point blank in the head.

Conclusion and Time for Questions.

The presentation will be at the Reynolds Recital Hall on the MSU Campus.  It begin with a pre-event reception at 6:30.

It is free to the public.

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