By the time Stephen Dale toured Yellowstone National Park in 1904, it had been transformed from a dangerous wilderness into a genteel resort. Railroads brought tourists from distant locations to the very edge of the park where they boarded carriages for the tour. The Army Corps of Engineers had built some of the best roads in America. And the Yellowstone Park Association had built luxury hotels that rivaled the best in the country. Park company tours sped tourists through Yellowstone in six days—less time than many earlier travelers spent at the Upper Geyser Basin. In this short time travelers became fast friends who found it difficult to say goodbye when the trip ended. Here’s Dale’s story about saying goodbye.
The whole party—in our case seventy-five people—traveled together all the way around, even keeping the same seats on the same stages. No one as far as I can recall was ever introduced, nor was anyone told anybody else’s name. But little things like that did not matter; names could be learned from hotel registers. Sometimes not even this trouble was taken; there was no time, there were too many interesting things to do. So nicknames were applied. There was “That Russian,” “The German,” “The Woman with the Bundle,” “The Baby Elephant,” and “The Heavenly Twins.” There were “Sunny Jim” and “Foxy Grandpa,” “Everyman” and “That Other Man.”
It was only when we got back to the starting point and there met strangers that we realized what old friends we had all become. On that last day of the tour parties break up with reluctance. In our party at least, friends of only six days’ acquaintance separated sorrowing, and everyone exchanged cards with a neighbor. I have an idea, although it is a secret, that in the case of “The Yale Man,” and “The Lady in the Newport Veil,” “The Professor” and “That Girl with the Pretty Shirtwaist,” “The Doctor” and “That Girl with the Gorgeous Eyes,” other things may possible have been exchanged. Nobody but the postman knows for sure.
— Stephen M. Dale, “Through Yellowstone on a Coach,” Ladies Home Journal, 21:9, 5-6 (August 1904).
— Photo, Yellowstone Digital Slide File.