Historic Yellowstone


From Wyoming Tales and Trails

This Page: Visit by President Harding.

Big Horn Basin Black Hills Bone Wars Brands Buffalo Cambria Casper Cattle Drives Centennial Cheyenne Chugwater Coal Camps Cody Deadwood Stage Douglas Dubois Encampment Evanston Ft. Bridger Ft. Fetterman Ft. Laramie Frontier Days Ghost Towns Gillette G. River F. V. Hayden Tom Horn Jackson Johnson County War Kemmerer Lander Laramie Lincoln Highway Lusk Meeteetse Medicine Bow N. Platte Valley Overland Stage Pacific Railroad Rawlins Rock Springs Rudefeha Mine Sheepherding Sheridan Sherman Shoshoni Superior Thermopolis USS Wyoming Wheatland Wild Bunch Yellowstone

Table of Contents
About This Site

President Harding at Mammoth Hot Springs, Hotel in background.

On July 1, 1923, two months before his death, President Warren G. Harding, as a part of a whirlwind tour of the west, paid a two-day visit to the park. Prior to becoming president, Harding had made two previous visits to the park.

On the first day of the visit billed as a period of rest, the President visit the Norris Geyser Basin and proceeded to the Old Faithful Lodge. The next day, the President visited the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. On the trip, President Harding was accompamied by Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover, Secretary of the Interior Hubert Work and his personal homeopathic physcian Charles Elmer Sawyer (1860-1924). Dr. Sawyer was commissioned by President Harding as a brigadier General in the Army Medical Corps. Following the President's death, Dr. Sawyer resigned his commission. On August 15, 1916, President wilson had signed into law an act creation the National Park service. Thus, President Harding was guided through the Park by civilian superintendent Horace Albright. As he did for the President Theodore Roosevelt, Harry W. Child accompanied the party.

President Harding's party at Inspiration Point
Left to Right: President Harding; Secretary of Interior Hubert Work; Director of National Park Service Stephen Mather.

President Harding at Inpiration Point.

President Harding at Norris Geyser Basin.

On the first day, as the President's vehicle passed the Riverside Geyser on the Firehole River, it erupted as if saluting the President. The Geyser was named by the Hayden Expedition. Unlike Gerald Ford who timed a speech so as to have Old Faithful erupt behind him, the timing of the Riverside Geyser was purely coincidental.

Riverside Geyser, 1896. Photo by Haynes.

At the time of President Harding's visit to the park, safety regulations were more lax.

President Harding feeding Max the Bear a bowl of molasses.

Currently the Park advises:

You must stay at least 100 yards (91 m) away from bears and wolves and at least 25 yards (23 m) away from all other large animals - bison, elk, bighorn sheep, deer, moose, and coyotes.

Indeed, Superintendent Albright was reminded of those regulations at a dinner held in his honor at the time of his 70th Birthday. Secretary of the Interior Fred Seaton commented on photographs of Superintendent Albright:

Here's another picture of him feeding the bears in Yellowstone Park, thought it is strictly against the rules to feed the bears in Yellowstone.

Horace Albright sharing dinner with friends, undated.

The difficulty with staying seventy-five feet away from the bison, is that no one has told the bison to help doing their part by staying away from people.

Bison in Parking lot, Yellowstone, 2013. Photo by Geoff Dobson.

Not pictured was an individual taking a photograph from directly in front of the lead bison. The above scene somewhat reminds the writer of the elk rutting in the parking lot of the Safeway Store in Estis Park. Additional discussion and photos of bear in Yellowstone are on a subsequent page.

Following the President's departure, he indicated to news reporters that he was in favor of expanding the park to include the Grand Tetons, a source of controversy for the next twenty years. Newspaper clippings from the time indicated that the visit resulted in an increase of tourism to the Park.

Next Page, Yellowstone continued, Visit of President Coolidge.