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Yellowstone National Park: Topics in Chronicling America

Yellowstone National Park is America’s first and foremost National Park. This guide provides access to materials related to “Yellowstone” in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.


"Yellowstone: First National Park." September 2, 1920. Essex County Herald (Guildhall, VT), Image 2. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

The legends coming out of America’s west can’t be true: mud volcanoes, boiling water shooting like a fountain from the earth, acidic baths and steamy steppes. Surely anyone reporting of such activity must be a liar. And yet, stories from a strange land called Yellowstone, this terra incognita, in the northwest corner of Wyoming, are gaining more and more traction, and it just so happens that these supernatural phenomena really do exist! This lauded landscape becomes the world’s first national park. Read more about it!

The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.

The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.


1807 - 1810 John Colter, a private soldier who joined the Lewis & Clark Expedition, was discharged from service and explored lands between St. Louis and Montana. He is the first white man to see what would become Yellowstone National Park.
1827 Mountaineer, map maker and trail guide Jim Bridger visits Yellowstone, exclaiming the wonders of the region, to others’ disbelief.
September 18, 1870 Cornelius Hedges, a member of the Folsom Cook Expedition, proposes that Yellowstone should become a public park.
March 1, 1872 Yellowstone National Park Act sets aside land in Wyoming and Montana to be protected from development and to be used as a public park.
August 25, 1916 Congress passes the National Park Service Act, establishing an agency to oversee and administer the nation’s parks.