Gateway to Yellowstone: The Raucous Town of Cinnabar on the Montana Frontier, Program by Lee Whittlesey

The Friends of the Yellowstone Gateway Museum presents a free program by Lee Whittlesey, entitled “Gateway to Yellowstone: The Raucous Town of Cinnabar on the Montana Frontier,” on Thursday, April 16, 7:00 PM, at the Livingston-Park County Public Library, 228 W. Calendar.

The town of Cinnabar, Montana no longer exists, but when it did, it served as the immediate railroad gateway for a generation of visitors to Yellowstone National Park. Visitors passed through its streets from September 1, 1883, through June 15, 1903. Whittlesey’s program, and his book of the same title, tells the story of its place in the West, and the legend of the town and its promoters, including Hugo Hoppe. Its story is one of aspiration and dreams in the American West; its place in the legend and lore of Yellowstone has kept the spirit of Cinnabar alive for more than a hundred years since the town itself faded away. Cinnabar was situated three miles northwest of Gardiner.

Whittlesey’s forty-year studies in the history of the Yellowstone region have made him an expert on Yellowstone’s vast literature and have resulted in numerous publications. He is the author, co-author, or editor of eleven books and more than twenty-five journal articles. The most recent ones are the new (2015) edition of Truman Everts’s Lost in the Yellowstone, and the book he talks about tonight, Gateway to Yellowstone: The Raucous Town of Cinnabar on the Montana Frontier. He co-authored with Dr. Paul Schullery Myth and History in the Creation of Yellowstone National Park (University of Nebraska Press, 2003). Their twenty-five-year project—“The History of Mammals in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, 1796-1881: An Interdisciplinary Analysis of Thousands of Historical Observations”—is forthcoming as a full book in 2016. Another of his recent books is “‘This Modern Saratoga of the Wilderness!’: A History of Mammoth Hot Springs and the Village of Mammoth in Yellowstone National Park,” which is awaiting publication by the National Park Service.

Whittlesey is Park Historian for the National Park Service at Yellowstone National Park, but this presentation is on his own time and not as an official NPS representative. He has a master’s degree in history from Montana State University and a law degree (Juris Doctor) from the University of Oklahoma. On May 19, 2001, because of his extensive writings and long contributions to Yellowstone National Park, Idaho State University conferred upon him an Honorary Doctorate of Science and Humane Letters. Since 1996, he has been an adjunct professor of history at Montana State University, and on May 3, 2014, MSU awarded him an honorary Ph.D. in history.

Whittlesey also published The Guide to Yellowstone Waterfalls and Their Discovery (2000) in which he and two co-authors revealed to the world for the first time the existence of more than 300 previously unknown waterfalls in Yellowstone National Park. For this accomplishment, he was featured on ABC News, NBC News, the Discovery Channel, the Travel Channel, and People magazine. Whittlesey appeared in Ken Burns’s five-part special on national parks, the Arun Chaudhary film shot for President Obama’s White House, the British Broadcasting Corporation’s hour-long program entitled “Unnatural Histories—Yellowstone,” and most recently on Montana PBS’s history of Yellowstone. He is often seen on regional and local television talking about Yellowstone’s history.

This is the final program in the museum’s Livingston speaker series. All are welcome to the free presentation; refreshments are provided.

Please visit the museum’s website,  or call 406-222-4184, for more information. The museum is also offering programs in Gardiner this year.