Historic Yellowstone


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This Page: Calvin Coolidge visit to Yellowstone.

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About This Site

President Coolidge being guided by Park Superintendent Albright.

After a night at Harry child's residence, the President, Mrs. Coolidge, and John Coolidge were guided by Superintendent Albright to Camp Roosevelt to see, among other things, tame bears. Superintendent Albright at various times attempted unsuccessfully to engage the President in conversation about the politics of conservation.

Camp Roosevelt, approx. 1913

The Wylie Permanent Camp Company established Camp Roosevelt near where Presidents Roosevelt and Arthur had camped when viewing Tower Falls and the lower Yellowstone River. One side of the camp borders on "Lost Creek" named because of its disappearance in a meadow before reaching the Yellowstone River. The camp at established initially for those that preferred a more rustic experience and consisted of striped tents with a larger dining tent.

Camp Roosevelt, approx. 1913

Beginning about 1919, the Yellowstone Park Company had succeeded Wylie and began making permanent improvements to the site.

Lodge Building at Camp Roosevelt.

The lodging at the camp is among the more rustic in the Park with small cabins having replaced the tents. The "facilities" are a short walk away. Down a short hill from the cabins is a corral for those who ride or wish to take a wagon ride to Yancey's."

Calvin Coolidge and Party at Camp Roosevelt, 1927, At extreme right in ten gallon hat is Secret Service Chief of Detail Edmund W. Starling, behind him in hat is Mrs. Coolidge and behind him in "boater" hat is John Coolidge.

Colonel Starling served Presidents Wilson, Harding, Coolidge, Hoover, and Roosevelt. The honorary title "Colonel" was conferred by the governor of Kentucky. Thus, Colonel Starling was always addressed by the title. He made all arrangements for Coolidge's stay at Custer State Park. Of the various presidents under whom he served Wilson and Coolidge were allegedly his favorites. Least favored were Harding and Hoover. The relationship with Roosevelt was "correct."

President Coolidge at Artist Point.

As will be observed from the photos, in Yellowstone President Coolidge reverted back to wearing three piece suits and rather than a cowboy hat wore a "boater."

President Coolidge and Mrs. Coolidge at Fishing Cone.

There was minor mishap. At Fishing Cone, Mrs. Coolidge stumpled on a rock and sustained a minor injury.

In the evening, the President retired to his room. John and Mrs. Coolidge would look in on the entertainment. At the the Canyon Hoel they were almost unnoticed until Mrs. Coolidge and her son took to the dance floor. Mrs. Coolidge and Johns stopped in at the Lake Lodge Community Hall. An amateur group of employees calling themselves "the Savages" which included two sisters from Lyons, Kansas, noticed mother and son and sang.

How do you do, John Coolidge, how do you do
We hope you'll like our lodge,
but the bears you'll have to dodge.
How do you do, John Coolidge, How do you do.

John asked to meet the Smith Sisters. He danced with Fern Smith three times and her sister Alta twice. It was headline news across the country. As reported by the Buffalo [New York] Evening News:

YELLOWSTONE LAKE, Aug. 25.-- Democracy is not yet dead in this country. John Coolidge, son of the president of the United States, danced a complete program Wednesday night at Lake Lodge, with two waitresses at his hotel, while his mother sat near the orchestra, smiling her approval.

Fern and Alta Smith.

The dance always followed the entertainment. The next night, all of the girls in the hotel dressed in their best. John and his mother stopped in, but left at the end of the entertainment.

When it came time to return to the Summer White House, President Coolidge wanted to leave by way of Gardiner, the way he had arrived. At the urging of Superintendent Albright and the Cody Commercial Club, the President relented and agreed to return via Cody. He imposed a condition: the Cody Enterprise, August 24, 1927, reported that the President "made it very plain that he does not wish a reception or anything akin to it." Residents of Cody immediately organized a reception committee to greet the President as his car emerged from the Park at Syvan Pass. From there he would be escorted by the committee down the Cody Road with a stop at the Shonshone Dam. In Cody he would be driven to the Buffalo Bill Equestrian Statue. At the Monument, forty mounted cowboys would join the escort. A stop would then be made at the newly dedicated museum where Mrs. Coolidge would be presented with a huge bouquet of wild flowers. After a review of the exhibits, the party would then proceed to the depot.

The following week, The Enterprise reported that at the corner of Second Street and Rumsey Avenue the President was duly saluted by the cowboys "who made a decidedly fine appearance." The paper also reported that in light of the President's request that the reception group be kept small, it was composed of only Mayor Trueblood, State Senator Schwoob, the Honorable George R. Beck, R. V. Robertson, Charles W. Lowe, Mr. and Mrs. Dave Jones, Frank Blackburn, Dr. Lane, Miss Morjorie Ross, Mrs. Alta Booth Dunn and Mrs. J. R. Alterberger. Others included were Mr. and Mrs. Howard Bell, Mr. and Mrs. F. F. McGee, Mary Jester Allen, Mrs. A. B. Chamberlin, Dwight E. Hollister, Mrs. H. T. Newell, Mr. and Mrs. F. S. Groves and Mr. and Mrs. J. C. Nichols. Miss Jane Garlow, Buffalo Bill's granddaughter, presented the bouquet of flowers, which had been especially gathered at Syvan Pass. Mrs. Coolidge was also presented with a shawl which was a duplicate of one previously presented to Mrs. Harding.

The President was left speechless. As expressed by The Enterprise:

President Coolidge, characteristicly had very little to say. Nothing seemed to escape his observant eye, but he is not one to comment, and following a practice which he announced at the outset of his vacation to the West, he made no speech, nor did he as much as comment upon his trip through Wyoming.

Mrs. Coolidge being presented with bouquet of flowers at Cody Museum
Left to Right, Mrs. Coolidge, Jane Garlow, President Coolidge, Mary Jester Allen. Mrs. Allen was a niece of Colonel Cody.

At Sheridan as the presidential train paused to take on water, Senator Kendrick boarded the train. On the back platform heintroduced the president to the awaiting crowds. The Presidant was a man of few words. He wasn't called "Silent Cal" for nothing. He made it back to South Dakota in time for church. It should be noted that President Coolidge did not have the benefit of the wisdom of Herbert Hoover who a few years later noted: "Presidents have only two moments of personal seclusion. One is prayer; the other is fishing and they cannot pray all the time."

Next Page, Yellowstone continued, Visits to Yellowstone by Presidents Herbert Hoover, and Franklin Roosevelt.