Early morning shadows catch Old Faithful Inn at a quiet time. A few years after the inn opened, guidebook writer Reau Campbell put it this way: Who shall describe this most charming, most unique, queer, quaint, fascinating place? . . . The stairways have the steps of logs split in half with the flat side up; the banisters and newel posts are of knotted, gnarled and twisted branches of the native trees. The galleries are supported by columns and braces cut from trees bent under the weight of snows and grown to fantastic shapes . . . the foundation stones, innocent of the stone-cutters’ chisels, were rolled in from the woods with the lichen still on their rugged sides.
. . . Here is where you will wish to stay all summer. . . . Lights were electric from the outset, powered by a steam generator, and there was hot water and central heating, true luxuries for a wilderness hotel at the time. Ten rooms had private baths; even today, there are no more than that in the Old House, as the central portion of the inn is called. The original log building had 140 rooms. Wings, also designed by Reamer, were completed in 1914 (the east wing) and 1927 (the west wing), bringing the present-day total to about 325 rooms open to guests. If you have time to take one of the twice-daily tours of the inn, led by a knowledgeable inn employee, you’ll learn much more about it. At least step inside to see Reamer’s majestic lobby, with its 80-some-foot (24 m) roof ridge exposed above two floors of balconies and its tremendous stone fireplace and wrought iron clock (now electrified). Most of the original inn furniture has had to be replaced. The dining room requires reservations but is otherwise informal. Guests of the early days were required to dress for dinner and to be precisely on time. They were entertained by chamber music easily audible from the first balcony’s open window. In fact, the author’s mother played piano in the Ladies’ Ensemble for tea in the afternoons and dancing in the evenings in 1939. Pianist George Sanborn has played most evenings from about 6:00 to 10:00 since 1992.
Where else in the world can you enjoy a pleasant dinner or a refreshing drink and at the same time look out the window to watch a free-roaming bison calmly rubbing his head on a nearby tree? It has happened at Old Faithful Inn! Twice in its history the inn has been damaged or threatened by the forces of nature. In August of 1959, as a result of the Hebgen Lake earthquake, rocks Old Faithful Inns magnificent lobby by morning light. Double writing desk from early 20th century and detail of glass lampshade. from the top of the dining room chimney fell through the roof; the chimney was rebuilt in 1987. Then in 1988, the North Fork fire came so close to the inn that people all over the country were holding their breaths in the hope it would be saved. Fierce winds blew embers across the area from the western to eastern hills, and some cabins and employee lodgings were burned. Fortunately, heroic efforts by firefighters, the presence of the huge parking lots, and a last-minute wind shift saved this delightful landmark. We must also thank the sprinkler system wisely installed the year before. Major restoration completed in 2008 brought Old Faithful Inn up to modern safety standards and restored it closer to its 1904 appearance.
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