Geyser Bob's Yellowstone Park History Service
Serving the Greater Yellowstone & Surrounding Gateway & Historic Communities
Wylie Camping Co.
Wylie Way Zion & Grand Cyn
Shaw & Powell Camps
Holm Camping Company
Frost & Richard
David Curry Camping
Yellowstone Park Camps Cos.
RC Bryant Camping
Old Faithful Camps
Bassett Brothers
George Huston
Smaller Camps
Holm Camping Company

 Copyright 2014 by Robert V. Goss. All rights reserved.
No part of this work may be reproduced or utilized in any form
by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying,
recording or by an information storage and retrieval system
without permission in writing from the author.

Aron 'Tex' Holm and his Camping & Transportation Companies
Serving Yellowstone National Park From Cody, Wyoming Through the East Entrance
Thanks to Walter Keats, Executive Director of the Geographic Society of Chicago (GSC) for many of the wonderful photos on this page.  The GSC was founded in 1889 and in 1909 and 1910 members of the Society came out to Yellowstone to explore this vast Wonderland.  They were guided by Aron Holm and his camping company.  It is believed the photos were taken by Miss Meta Mannhardt, a member of the GSC, who gave her album of pictures to the GSC in the 1950's.  Reproduction or use of these photos is not permissable, without written permission from GSC. 
Photo Credits: Owner/Publisher - Geographic Society of Chicago; Photographer - Meta Mannhardt.
In 1901 Aron "tex" Holm and his wife Katherine began transporting small camping parties in Yellowstone via the northeast entrance at Cooke City.  Late in 1903 they began using the new east entrance road over Sylvan Pass.  In 1906 Aron 'Tex' Holm and F.H. Welch were  permitted to conduct camping parties through the park using wagons and saddle  horses. The company was headquarted in Cody, with rail access from the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy RR.  They offered 14 and 18-day camping trips in covered surreys or ‘wagonettes’ built with extra good springs for mountain service.  Saddle horses were available for those who desired them.  Canvas-bottomed tepees were used for sleeping and were complete with mattresses, blankets, and comforters.  A private ‘toilet tent’ was set up for the ladies at each camp.  Women cooks prepared meals in a covered cook wagon, using canned goods, smoked meats, fresh vegetables and trout. 

Left:  Aron 'Tex' Holm Camping party trying to ascend Sylvan Pass. 
Looks like they unloaded bedding & equipment to help get through the snow drift

A 1910 Holm brochure described campsites at:  Wapiti, Pahaska, Sylvan Lake, Yellowstone Lake, Craig Pass, near Riverside Geyser, Lower Geyser Basin, Obsidian Cliff, East Gardiner Creek [Lava Cr.], Tower Falls, Grand Canyon, Turbid Springs, Camp Beautiful [near East Entrance] and repeating the route back to Cody. Campers could exit at Gardiner if desired, for a slightly shorter tour. The cost for this wonderful excursion was $4.00 per day.

Camping wagon and guests from the 1909
Chicago Geographic Society trip.
     With anticipation of continued growth in tourism, Tex Holm moved forward with his business expansion. On October 28, 1911, the Park County Enterprise (Cody, WY) announced, “Holm Incorporates New Tourist Company – Local Parties Said to be Backing the New Concern.” The Yellowstone Park Camping and Transportation Company was dissolved and the assets were absorbed into the new “Holm Transportation Company.” The Tex Holm Livery Company, a livery business established by Tex in Cody, also merged into the new outfit.  This fledgling organization, incorporated in Wyoming October 23, 1911, was capitalized for $75,000, divided into 750 shares and was managed by a board of directors consisting of Aron Holm, Louis Gokel, J.M. Schwoob, W.L. Simpson, and W.J. Deegan. The goals of the company were lofty. In addition to the purpose of engaging in general livery, transportation, hotel, and merchandise business, the company’s objectives included purchasing, leasing, or building hotels, lodges, camping outfits, and roads and bridges as necessary to conduct business.

     Tex Holm & Shwoob traveled to Washington to gain permission to transport customers to the other hotels and camps, along with requesting permission to establish permanent camps in the park, much as the Wylie Company had done.  The men conferred with the Secretary of Interior and Wyoming’s representatives to Congress. After what were no doubt strenuous negotiations, the Holm Transportation Company was finally granted a transportation concession in Yellowstone. It was, however, at the expense of not being able to establish permanent camps or construct hotels. Schwoob later reported that he was satisfied with the compromise that relieved HTCo of having to expend many thousands of dollars in order to establish new camps or other lodging facilities. Continuing, Schwoob related that, “what the company really secured was the privilege of having their tourists boarded at the Park hotels and the Wiley [sic] camps on the same terms which are given visitors who are conveyed thru [sic] the park by the old transportation company and the Wylie outfit.”

 Big game hunting parties were offered from Holm Lodge into the surrounding National Forests areas as were trips to Jackson Hole on horseback with pack outfits.  These trips lasted from 25-30 days, covering about 200 miles.  Experienced guides and cooks accompanied each party.  The route traversed the "wildest and most rugged parts of the Rockies, away from civilization, making many side trips into parts which have never been visited by other parties."  The cost of this adventure was $250, which covered all the expenses from Cody and the return trip.

 Holm Transportation Co. Stagecoach, with Chicago Geographic Society members aboard.
 Holm Lodge - Located a few east of the East Entrance of Yellowstone Park. 
Postcard from the author's collection

In May of 1910 Tex Holm embarked on a huge investment of time and money when he began construction of Holm Lodge, located along scenic Libby Creek about seven miles from the east entrance of the park. The rustic log building quickly took shape and on June 8, 1910 the Park County Enterprise proudly proclaimed, “The Holm Lodge is Now Open – This Famous Mountain Resort for Tourists, Anglers and Hunters is Now in Shape to Accomodate [sic] Guests in Pleasant Manner.”  Undoubtedly construction continued throughout the summer putting finishing touches on the various facilities. The main lodge consisted of a large dining room and another “amusement room” used for kitchen services and dancing parties. Guests slept in 12’x14’ tent houses that consisted of board floors and partial woods walls topped with canvas tent-tops. Iron beds, Ostermoor mattresses, stove, dresser, chairs, and wash-stands completed the furnishings. The “houses” were scattered amongst the woods for privacy with a centrally-located log bathing pavilion sporting porcelain bathtubs and offering hot and cold running water. The “grub” consisted of “fresh fruits and vegetables and garden truck of every description, eggs laid by our own chickens, plenty of fresh milk from our own cows.” Guests who wished to spend extended periods at the lodge were charged $100 a month, which included meals, saddle horse, and guide service on short camping trips. Laundry facilities were available, along with telephone service to Cody. 

 Disaster struck when front page headlines of the Park County Enterprise on Saturday, November 15, 1913 proclaimed:
“Main Building at Holm Lodge Completely Destroyed by Fire. Beautiful Resort is Scene of Disastrous Conflagration Last Wednesday Evening.” Luckily Tex Holm was onsite, and with the assistance of men from a nearby road crew, managed to rescue most of the interior furnishings, but nothing could be done to save the lodge.

Unwilling and perhaps unable to borrow money to rebuild, Tex sold his prized Holm Lodge to William “Billy” Howell, an investor in his company who had managed Holm’s pack outfits for the past few years. The deal closed in early May for an undisclosed purchase price, but there was speculation that Holm gave the lodge to Howell in exchange for debts owed. Howell, who terminated his employment with HTCo, formed an association with Hillis Jordan, whereby Howell would run the lodge and Jordan, an experienced packer, would guide parties into the park independent of the Holm operation.  Tex Holm agreed to house his Yellowstone guests at Holm Lodge instead of Pahaska Tepee. Howell later went into a partnership with Cody schoolteacher Mary Shawver and together they managed Holm Lodge until 1947.

In 1915, with an excess of debts and other problems, the Holm Transportation Company
finished out the season, but went bankrupt in the process.  With no transportation carrier available through the east entrance for the 1916 season, a group of park businesses formed the Cody-Sylvan Pass Motor Company.  Jointly operated by the hotel, major transportation companies, and the Wylie and Shaw & Powell companies, the new concern filled the transportation void for 1916.  In 1917 the Yellowstone park Transporation Company became the sole transportation operation in the park.

Holm Transportation Company and the Stanley Steamers
   In an attempt to modernize his business and reduce travel time from Cody to Holm Lodge, Tex Holm purchased two 5-passenger E.M.T. Thirty autos from local dealer Jake Schwoob in 1911, after failing to negotiate a deal with the Avery Company for an 18-passenger auto. Dissatisfied with the performance of the vehicles that year, Tex Holm bought a 12-passenger Stanley Mountain Wagon in 1912 to transport his customers on the 100-mile round-trip journey to the east entrance of Yellowstone. The shiny new red steamer arrived in mid-June with William S. Stanley, nephew of the Stanley brothers, at the helm. The Park County Enterprise (Cody) newspaper claimed the auto was “practically noiseless. It has immense pulling power and is claimed to be the simplest constructed car on the market.”  Happy with the Stanley Steamer and its performance on the rugged and primitive mountain roads, Holm purchased three more in 1913.
    The new vehicles performed admirably for three seasons until the financial stability of Holm Transportation Company crashed in 1915. The Holm company went bankrupt after the 1915 season and the Stanley Steamers went on the auction block in March of 1916 to help pay off the debts incurred by the company.  The fate and whereabouts of these historic steamers remains to be discovered.

  Some of Tex Holm's Stanley Steamers along the
"Cody Road to Yellowstone."
Joe Paine was one of the drivers.
Photo from June 16, 1986 Cody Enterprise newspaper

 Brief History of the Stanley Steamer

    The Stanley Motor Carriage Company was a steam engine vehicle manufacturer that operated between 1902 and 1924. During the company's peak years, their vehicles outsold every gasoline-fuelled car, with sales second only to Columbia Electric. The cars made by the company were colloquially referred to as Stanley Steamers, although a number of different models were produced.
Twins Francis E. Stanley (1849-1918) and Freelan O. Stanley (1849-1940), natives of Maine, founded the company after selling their successful photographic dry plate manufacturing business to Eastman Kodak. They produced their first car in 1897 and during 1898 and 1899, they produced and sold over 200 cars, more than any other U.S. maker. They later sold the rights to this early design to Locomobile, and in 1902 they formed the Stanley Motor Carriage Company.
Early Stanley cars had light wooden bodies mounted on tubular steel frames by means of full-elliptic springs. Steam was generated in a vertical fire-tube boiler, mounted beneath the seat, with a vaporizing gasoline (later, kerosene) burner underneath. The boiler was reinforced by winding several layers of piano wire around it, which gave it a strong, yet relatively light-weight, shell. The boilers were safer than one might expect – they were fitted with safety valves, and even if these failed, a dangerous overpressure would rupture one of the many joints long before the boiler shell was in danger of bursting, and the resulting leak would relieve the boiler pressure and douse the burner with little risk to the occupants of the car. There has never been a documented case of a Stanley boiler exploding in use.
    Later, the Stanley brothers, to overcome patent difficulties with the design they had sold to Locomobile, developed a new automobile model with twin cylinder engines geared directly to the back axle. A Stanley Steamer set the world record for the fastest mile in an automobile (28.2 seconds) in 1906. This record was not broken by any automobile until 1911, although Glen Curtiss beat the record in 1907 with a V-8 powered motorcycle at 136 mph (218 km/h). Production rose to 500 cars in 1917.
During the mid to late 1910s, the fuel efficiency and power delivery of internal combustion engines improved dramatically and the usage of an electric starter rather than a crank, which was notorious for injury to its operators, led to the rise of the gas-powered automobile (which eventually was much cheaper). The Stanley company produced a series of advertising campaigns trying to woo the car-buying public away from the "internal explosion engine," to little effect. An advertising slogan for these campaigns was, "Power - Correctly Generated, Correctly Controlled, Correctly Applied to the Rear Axle."
    In 1917, the brothers retired and sold their interests to business partners and son-in-laws Edward M. Hallet, purchasing agent and Prescott Warren, sales agent for the Stanley Motor Carriage Company. F.E. Stanley died shortly after in an auto accident in 1918. The company then endured a period of decline and technological stagnation. Far better cars were available at much lower cost and widespread use of electric starters in internal combustion automobiles eroded the greatest remaining technological advantages of the steam car. The Stanley Steamer factory closed for good in 1924.
[Excerpts from Wikipedia and other sources]

The Cody Road to Yellowstone Park
1916 brochure published by the Burlinton Route, advertising "The Only Auto Route Into the Park." Although private autos were allowed into the park in August of 1915, commercial 'auto stage' tours in the park did not begin until 1917 when Harry Child changed over from stagecoaches to White motor buses. Tex Holm began running Stanley Steamers in 1912 from the Cody depot to Holm Lodge and the East Entrance, where horse carriages continued on into the park.
Brochure from the author's collection.

  The Yellowstone News
May 1922, Volume V - No. 5

Camps Co. Introduces Horseback Tours as 1922 Feature
Four Tours this Summer

      Yellowstone can always be depended on for something new! This year the Camps Company, in addition to its other enterprises, offers an inovation in the form of
"14-Day Personally Conducted Horseback Tours." These tours will leave Mammoth Hot Springs (Mammoth Camp) on four dates during 1922 season: July 1st, July 15th, August 1st and August 15th.  Each tour will be identical in leadership, equipment and schedule.  This arrangement offers such a wide range of starting dates that men and women who have been looking for this sort of tour can fit their vacation into one of those schedules.
"Tex" Holm, The Leader.   The Camps Company knows from long experience and observation that no inconsiderable part of the success of horseback tours is leadership.  For those tours, they have engaged "Tex" Holm to guide and manage each tour.  "Tex" Holm has been conducting parties through Yellowstone for over 20 years and knows every foot of the trails and highways. Of equal importance he is fitted by disposition to amalgamate the elements of a party into one harmonious whole.  Each tour will be strictly limited in number so that the members will have all the freedom of a private party with a private guide.  The tour will appeal to persons who desire to get away from an ordinary tourist experience and revel in healthful excercise, live in the open, and enjoy a scenic adventure of the first order.
      A big factor is the duration of the trip.  The average visitor, who take the regular automobile tour, stays in the park for four and a half days.  This is too short.  Many guests at the permanent camps stay over for a day or a week.  The saddle horse tours will be on the trails and highways for 14 days.  Of course, members of these tours will see three times as much as the average tourist, not only because they are in the park three times as long but also because they will visit many places far from the automobile highways.
Fourteen Eventful Days.   Looking at these tours from the standpoint of healthful recreation, they wil appeal to many as the ideal vacation.  Think of 14 days in the saddle and 14 nights in the open!  The rides at first are short and grow grdually longer as the tour progresses.  The first day's ride is 7 miles.  The average for the entire tour is only 12 miles per day.  Member of the party will be provided with individual tents and individual beds.  All tents, bedding and equipment are new and of the first quality.  The cost oif these tours is $196.00 each.  This charge includes all expenses for the 14 days beginning and ending at Mammoth Camp.  Members of the party will use any railroad they desire to the park and pay their own expenses to Mammoth Camp.  Further details will be supplied on application.
                                                                                                                                                                           Thanks to Elizabeth A. Watry for finding this in the YNP Archives

Click here to visit the family website of Tex Holm's wife, Susan Catherine Powers.
Click here to visit the Tex Holm page on the Brooke-White family website

Copyright 2014 by Robert V. Goss. All rights reserved.
No part of this work may be reproduced or utilized in any form
by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying,
recording or by an information storage and retrieval system
without permission in writing from the author.

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