Historic Yellowstone


From Wyoming Tales and Trails

This Page: The Grand Hotels continued, Canyon Lodge, Old Faithful Inn.

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Table of Contents, p. 1
Table of Contents, p. 2
About This Site

Canyon Lodge, 1920's

The Canyon Lodge was on the east side of the near the parking area for Uncle Tom's Trail. The Lodge was built in the 1920's and closed at the end of the 1956 season. "Uncle Tom" Richardson was an early entrepreneur in the park who ran a ferry (1897-1906) across the Yellowstone River above the rapids near the Chittenden Bridge. He would guide tourists on a trail consisting of steps and rope ladders to the bottom of the Canyon to see the lower falls. The ladders were later replaced by wooden steps. Now the trail consists of a combination of ramps and a steel staircase on which one may descend (and climb back up) about 3/4th of the way to the bottom of the Canyon for a view of the falls.

Canyon Lodge Lobby, 1920's

the crown jewel of the hotels at Yellowstone, however, was the Old Faithful Inn constructed in the winter of 1903-1904. The Hotel was designed by a 29-year old self-taught architect, Robert Reamer (1873-1938). The Hotel is the largest log structure in the world (although it has a steel framework hidden in the logs). The crowning feature of the Inn is the seven-story high central lobby. The center piece of the lobby is the forty-two foot foot tall fireplace in which guests could relax in arts and crafts style chairs.

Old Faithful Inn Lobby, 1920's

In the Park, Reamer was responsible for the design of the remodeling of the Lake Hotel, the design of the "new" Canyon Hotel, and two additions in 1913 and 1927 to the Old Faithful Inn. In Washington State Reamer was the architect for the Mt. Baker Theatre in Bellingham, the Fox Theatre in Spokane and the 5th Avenue Theatre and the Edmund Meany Hotel in Seattle.

Construction of the Old Faithful Inn commenced in June 1903. Not withstanding that much of the hotel was constructed in the bitter cold of the winter of 1903-04, it opened on time on June 1, 1904. The facility featured all of the modern amenities of the time including electricity and telephones. The building is situated so as to require guests to leave the hotel to see the eruptions of old faithful. The expected time of the next eruption would be posted. The first manager, Larry Mathews, would not mind interrupting the evening church services so the congregants would not miss the event. At night the eruption would be illuminated by giant floodlights mounted on the top of the hotel. See the expected time of the next eruption and view it on the Old Faithful Live Cam. [Please note, the predictions as to the next time of eruption are posted only when the Visitor Center is open. Hours are: Winter Season, 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Mountain; Summer Season, 8:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. Mountain. Spring and Fall closed. If you are visiting outside those hours or when the visitor center is closed the predicted time will be outdated. The predicted time is generally accurate within 10 minutes. Therefore, it is suggested that you note the time of the next eruption and return to the site about 10 minutes before the next eruption.]

Old Faithful Inn, photo by Haynes.

Note the covered veranda above the entrance and the "widows walk" on the ridgeline of the hotel. Guests could view Old Faithful from either the veranda or from the widows walk. The latter, however, required climbed a maze of stairs more than eighty feet above the lobby floor. The stairs were closed following the 1959 earthquake discussed on the preceding page.

Old Faithful Inn Veranda.

And if the centerpiece of the hotels within the Park is the Old Faithful Inn, the centerpiece of the hotel is the lobby with the massive fireplace.

Old Faithful Lobby

To give perspective, the clock is twenty feet above the hearth. Note the stairs ultimately leading above the Lobby. There in the "crows' nest", musicians would sometimes provide music. Dinner in the dining room would be announced by the ringing of a bell in the lobby fifteen minutes ahead of time. Dinner was a formal affair, with guests expected to dress for dinner.

Old Faithful Dining Room

At dinner a string quartet would provide music. A typical menu from August 1930 would be full seven courses:


Cream of Tomato
Salt Wafers
Consomme in Tasse
Melba Toast
Sweet Pickles
Ripe Olives
Fried Filet of Sole with Tarter Sauce
Boiled Ham with Green Spinach
Broiled Sirloin Steak Maitre de Hotel
Compot of Rice with Fresh Fruit Sauce
Chicken Fricassee with Steamed Rice
Mashed Potatoes
Cauliflower au Graten
Candied Sweet Potatoes
Carrots Saute in Butter
Sliced Tomatoes French Dressing
Heart of Lettuce Salad 1000 Island Dressing
French, Raisin, Rye, and Wheat Bread
Maple Cream Puffs
Hot Mince Pie
Melba Peaches
Table Apples
Chocolate Ice Cream
Assorted Cookies

American, Swiss or Cottage Cheese Crackers
Iced Tea
Demi Tassee
Old Faithful Inn
Sunday, August 31, 1930

Lectures by Ranger Naturalist on the Geysers history
bears, etc., at Bear Feeding Grounds at 7:00 p.m., at
Musuem at 8:15 p.m. Searchlight on Old Faithful Geyser
Time announced in lobby.

Six nights a week, the carpets in the lobby would be rolled up and there would be dancing to live music.

As of this writing, May 2004, it is anticipated that commencing in the fall of 2004, a multi-million dollar renovation of the Inn is to commence and will be completed for the opening of the 2006 season. Improvements will include repairs to the foundation damaged in the 1959 Earthquake, repairs to the roof and the fireplace and chimney.

Next Page: Yellowstone continued.