Norris also describes the failed attempts to reach what is now the Yellowstone interior. The governments failed attempts at discovering Yellowstone consisted of multiple explorers, who were able to reach the area, but were not able to access the entire region. Norris writes that the “government made no further efforts to explore the park until long after gold-seeking pilgrims had visited various portions of it” (Norris, 14). Norris goes on to describe the trips taken by he and his fellow explorers into Yellowstone. In 1870, an explorer by the name of Frederick Bottler and himself traveled into the Yellowstone region from the east. The effort failed, due to Bottler being “swept away in attempting to cross a mountain torrent” (Norris, 14). Ever persistent Norris returned the next year with 9 men, in order to accomplish mapping the entirety of Yellowstone and witnessing all of its beauty, which he had longed to achieve. The expedition undertaken was the most successful of the time. Photographs, maps, and letters were evidence to the sheer beauty of Yellowstone, and the trip made lasting impressions with each man. One man, T.C. Everts, was separated from the group for an astonishing 37 days. He was able to survive partly due to the now widely visited location of Mammoth Springs. The heated springs were able to keep Everts warm through the ordeal, and enable him to share his outstanding story with the world. Everts’ story, along with the other explorers’ stories was inspirational to the nation, and led to the immediate popularization of Yellowstone. Upon peaking the nation’s curiosity, the following year in 1872, Ulysses S. Grant signed a bill making Yellowstone National Park the first of it’s kind.
In his report, Norris gives recommendations to the secretary in regards to the best locations for building projects. He cites where there is abundant food and water in the park, and weighs the pros and cons of each location. For example, he cites the Mammoth Hot Springs as a place with several suitable building sites. He states that “there is an abundance of excellent grass, wood, and water” (Norris, 10). He recommends that the site be used as the location of the superintendent’s headquarters or for the purpose of lodging and other accommodations for park visitors.
The detailed account of Yellowstone by conservationist P.W. Norris is one that should be greatly treasured. Norris accounts for nearly every obstacle that stood in the way of Yellowstone becoming just another failed American idea. Given that Yellowstone was the first national park, Norris brilliantly created a path for future conservationists to follow. He detailed how to enforce rules and regulations, and stressed the fact that the national parks would not care for themselves; they needed proper appropriations from the government. He also provides a first hand account of the history of Yellowstone. While acknowledging the fact that Indians had lived there long before Europeans arrived to “discover” the beautiful land, he provides a great account of the successful and failed attempts by whites to becoming aware of Yellowstone as a whole. He details how Yellowstone became the first national park, and modestly describes his indirect role in that creation.
It is difficult, indeed nearly impossible to study the conservation movement without first examining its root; that root lies in the theory of naturalism. The naturalist work done by writers such as Thoreau provided the foundation for future conservationists. Conservationists, such as P.W. Norris worked tirelessly to save the nations wonders from human encroachment, and just as the naturalists did before, they saw the inherent beauty that nature has to offer. The Nation’s national parks are what truly separate us from the rest of the world. They seem to be the only places in America where every citizen is able to escape the realities of the modern world equally. When stepping into a national park, the average American is indeed stepping back into the past; not just the ecological past that has been so selflessly preserved, but the past of the men and women who worked their entire lives to separate America from the rest of the world.
Norris, P.W. Yellowstone National Park. Rep. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Report upon the Yellowstone National Park to the Secretary of the Interior. Web. 11 Feb. 2014. <https://archive.org/stream/reportuponyellow1878unit#page/n3/mode/2up>.