“Stagecoach Tour Through Yellowstone” Program

During the period 1878-1916, stagecoach tourism in Yellowstone—spearheaded by four transportation companies and dozens of independent drivers, with their hundreds of gaily bedecked horses—evolved into a smoothly-functioning adventure that guided thousands of visitors through Yellowstone and converted park villages from frontier hard-scrabbles of log cabins into picturesque, pastoral villages that provided comfort in the midst of a wilderness, offered idyllic pleasure to the masses, and served as inspirational and even patriotic places for relaxation.Lee.crop

This program, illustrated with historic photographs, takes the audience on what is believed by Whittlesey to have been the standard tour of Yellowstone by CourtesyWhithornCollectionstagecoach. It discusses what the tour was all about, where it went, what those early stage-drivers talked about, what questions visitors asked, which direction the stagecoaches traveled, what some visitors thought of the trip, how long it took, and what those wonderful Yellowstone natural features were that so merited speech-making and discussion. In short, the program discusses the essence of the Yellowstone Grand Tour during the halcyon days of Yellowstone stagecoaches.

Lee 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 fourteen books, including Storytelling in Yellowstone: Horse and Buggy Tour Guides; Ho! for Wonderland:  Travelers Accounts of Yellowstone, 1872-1914 (with Elizabeth Watry); and more than twenty-five journal articles. Whittlesey retired as Park Historian for the National Park Service at Yellowstone National Park on April 30, 2018. He now lives in the Livingston, Montana area, where he is working on his latest book, Stagecoaching Through Yellowstone, a two-volume history of stagecoaching in the Yellowstone region.

On Wednesday, March 27, “Bars, Brothels, and the Law in Livingston,” is presented by Karen Reinhart, Yellowstone Gateway Museum registrar. Reinhart discusses drinking establishments and the red-light district and the challenges the businesses faced, including prohibition. A 6:30pm Friends of the Yellowstone Gateway Museum annual meeting precedes the meeting; all are welcome and encouraged to come early to get a seat. Doors will open at 6pm on this evening.

On Thursday, April 11, “Fort Parker: The First Crow Indian Agency” is presented by Crystal Alegria and Shane Doyle. They discuss the history of the agency and The Extreme History Project’s work to uncover the unique and important role that the first Crow Agency played in early Montana history.

On Wednesday, April 24, “Me and Martha: Intimate Reflections of Dora DuFran about the Real Life of Calamity Jane,” is presented by scholar and actress, Mary Jane Bradbury. She will bring to life insights about Calamity’s real life through the eyes of madam Dora DuFran, a Black Hills pioneer, entrepreneur and close friend of Calamity’s. Partial funding for the Speakers Bureau program is provided by a legislative grant from Montana’s Cultural Trust and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

All programs are held at 7:00 pm at Park Photo, 115 S. Main St., Livingston. The speaker series is free, open to the public and refreshments are served. Doors will open at 6:30 pm.

Watch for more information about upcoming programs or contact Karen Reinhart at 222-4184 or kreinhart@parkcounty.org. Visit our Facebook page, yellowstonegatewaymuseum.