The National Park Service’s Mission 66, initiated in 1956, modernized facilities, built new ones, built roads and added dozens more parks and historic sites. In Wyoming, architects designed buildings meant to enhance visitors’ experiences while protecting the wonders they came to see. The results recast Americans’ relationships with natural beauty.
In 1904, when the Old Faithful Inn opened in Yellowstone Park, it was seen as a treasure: rustic and luxurious, breathtaking yet casual. It came to be a symbol of Yellowstone, and its building style, called parkitecture, spread quickly to other national parks, dude ranches, state parks and small museums.
Wealthy artist, hunter and conservationist A.A. Anderson was named superintendent of the new Yellowstone Forest Reserve in 1902. His love for wildlife habitat clashed with local timber and grazing interests, however, and, after much controversy, he lost his job. Wyoming and the nation might have benefitted if he’d found a way to bridge that gap.
No logging, no grazing—even no trespassing? The Yellowstone Timber Land Reserve, the first land to be set aside in what evolved into today’s National Forest system, had a distinctly different character from its successors. Here’s why.
Early Wyoming was seen as a hardscrabble place. But after 1900, dude ranches showed off Wyoming’s mountain scenery, fishing, hunting and hospitality, and thanks to the elite guests’ taste-making powers, Wyoming and the West became associated less with cold wind and distance and more with romantic glories.
Caroline Lockhart wrote a handful of novels about Wyoming in the early 20th century. They made her famous and rich, and they hold up well today. At the same time, she was a new kind of activist, a central figure in bringing to the town of Cody and the state of Wyoming a new kind of nostalgia-based culture that both have embraced ever since.