I’ve prepared a slide show and script for my presentations in northwest Montana next week. I’ll be at the Troy Public Library on Tuesday, April 24, at 6:30 p.m., and at the Lincoln County High School Auditorium in Eureka on Wednesday, April 25, at 7 p.m. I’ll be doing  my Humanities Montana program, “Sidesaddles and Geysers: Women’s Adventures in Early Yellowstone.”

Troy and Eureka are 90 miles apart so I decided to prepare one slide show for both. Of course, my presentations are largely ad libbed so no two of them are the same.

I always read a few stories from my collection of more than 300 first-person accounts of early trips to Yellowstone National Park. It’s always a challenge to choose a stories that work well together and illustrate the variety of adventures people had on the Yellowstone vacations, but that’s the fun of it. I truly enjoy reviewing the stories I’ve collected. It gives me a chance to examine new additions to my still growing collection and to see how they fit with the old friends.

I’ll begin both nights by introducing myself and explaining how I became interested in early travel to Yellowstone Park. That gives me an excuse to recount the stories my grandmother told me when I was a little boy. Grandma went to the park in 1909 with her aunt, seven cousin and two brothers. Family lore says they took a milk cow to provide for the younger children. Grandma told stories about churning butter by tying a bucket of cream under the wagon axle, cooking fish still on the hook in a hot spring, and dying geysers pink by tossing red flannel underwear in them.

Then, I’ll tell about the first women to visit the park in the 1870’s when it was a remote roadless wilderness. I’ll follow that with Emma Cowan’s chilling story of being taken captive by fleeing Nez Perce Indians in 1877. To lighten things up, I’ll read excerpts from Eleanor Corthell’s adventures taking her seven children to the park in 1903 and read the story of a women nearly falling in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone in 1911. I’ll end with the sad tale of a sedate group of tourists saying goodbye to new friends they made while traveling through the park in comfortable coaches and staying in world-class hotels.

That should leave time for questions and comments from the audience, which I really enjoy. And, if the audience wants an encore story, I’ll have one ready.

Of course, I’ll stay after the presentation to chat and sign copies of my book, Adventures in Yellowstone: Early Travelers Tell Their Tales.

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— To find the stories listed above, click “Women’s Stories” under the categories button to the left.  Explore this blog for all kinds of tales of early travel to Yellowstone Park.

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