To get a feeling for army life here when the U.S. Cavalry was stationed at Fort Yellowstone a century ago, take a ranger-guided tour or a short walk around the historic buildings described in “The Army Years” booklet available at the visitor center. This was not a stockaded fort as in Westerns but a permanent army post, of which there were many in 19 th century Montana and Wyoming territories. Fort Yellowstone has been said to rival West Point for the quality of its architecture. Signs along the walk tell you about the buildings’ use. Year-round park personnel currently occupy most buildings, so please respect their privacy. The walk begins with Albright Visitor Center, the former Bachelor Ocers’ Quarters built in 1909. As with all the stone buildings, this one was constructed by Scottish stonemasons, who quarried the sandstone just down the hill near the Gardner River. The cavalry decided to build new facilities in stone after a devastating 1907 fire destroyed wooden stables and killed a number of horses.
The last building in the first row was the Guard House, also used to admit park visitors in the early years, when almost all travelers entered via the North Entrance. The second and third rows included barracks, the post exchange, and stables, now used for oces and shops. Four small houses behind were noncommissioned ocers’ quarters and were dubbed Soapsuds Row when the wives took in laundry for extra money. When the National Park Service took over administration of Yellowstone in 1916, approximately 200 soldiers were serving in the park. Of these, 22 stayed on as park rangers. Modern national park policies, philosophies, and even ranger uniforms evolved here.
Historic Fort Yellowstone Photo Gallery
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