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
Yellowstone Park Camps Cos.

The Tent Camps in Yellowstone and the Transition to the Lodge system.

Yellowstone Park Camping Company - 1917-1919
Yellowstone Park Camps Company - 1919-1928
Yellowstone Park Lodge & Camps Company - 1928-1936

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.

Yellowstone Park Camping Company - 1917-1919


Note that the company uses the slogan  "The Camp Way," a take-off of the Wylie Way motto.
This company was formed with the merger of the Wylie Permanent Camping and the Shaw & Powell camping companies after the 1916 season. This was part of the concession consolidation plan mandated by the National Park Service. A.W. Miles gained 51% of the stock, while various Shaw and Powell family members shared the remainder. All park transportation privileges at that time were assigned to the Yellowstone Park Transportation Co. (YPTCo) who transported visitors around the park in their new White Motor Co. 10-passenger TEB buses. Many of the former camps were abandoned to avoid duplication of services and a new camp at Mammoth was established. Camps located at Canyon, Lake, Riverside, Tower and Upper Geyser basin were retained, while camps at West Thumb, Willow Park, Gibbon Falls, Nez Perce, and the east entrance (Cody Camp) were abandoned. Riverside Camp closed in 1918 due to WWI and never reopened. Howard Hays and Roe Emery purchased the company in 1919 and the name was changed to the Yellowstone Park Camps Co.

Left: Newspaper ad from Ogden Standard 8-2-1917
Right: 1919 brochure cover from the YP Camping Co.

1917 view of the Old Faithful Lodge and tent cabins. The front of the lodge overlooks Old Faithful Geyser and the Upper Geyser Basin. This was formerly the Shaw & Powell camp. Additions and renovations were made in 1921, 1923, and 1928.

And for the single traveling woman . . .

Since the Yellowstone Park camps are supplied with carefully selected matrons, whose duty it is to look after the wants and to give special attention to the comfort and pleasure of ladies, and since about seventy per cent of our Park travel consists of ladies traveling alone, or in small parties, you will find that it is perfectly safe and proper for ladies to make the trip with us, without escorts.  We make a specialty of one, two and four-room apartment tents, under lock and key, thus affording absolute privacy and assuring safety to those who are in the least timid.
1917 YP Camping Co. Brochure

Advertisement from the 1918 Automobile Blue Book for the "Camp Way" of the Yellowstone Park Camping Company. The company was headquartered in Livingston, Montana and was noted as the successor to the Wylie Permanent Camping Company and the Shaw & Powell Camping Company.

Yellowstone Park Camps Company - 1919-1928

Howard Hays and Roe Emery purchased the YP Camping Co. in 1919.  Walter White of the White Motor Co. was a silent partner and Hays became president of the company.  Harry Child, wanting to buy the company very badly, after having to give up his share of the Wylie Co. after 1916, was hoping to get a good deal. While he was waiting for the $150,000 price to come down, Hays unexpectedly came up with the money, with backing by White.  Walter White hid his involvement in the business, as he did not want to antagonize Child, who was one of his large customers for White buses. The new owners expanded operations of the camps by building rustic log lodges and recreation halls at all existing locations except Riverside, which closed in 1918 due to WWI and never reopened.  A swimming pool was built at Mammoth Lodge around 1920 and a Boys Forest & Trail Camp was established at Roosevelt  in 1921 that included a swimming pool, council house, and eight tent cabins.  The camp taught boys the fine arts of fishing, mountain climbing, and studying the flora and fauna.  
Scene at one of the camps in 1923, from a company brochure.

1923 YP Camp Co. letterhead.
E.H. Moorman began his Yellowstone career in 1899 with the Wylie Camping Co. 
He continued with the various camp/hotel company configurations until his retirement in 1948. 

"Delightful memories are one of man's fondest sources of pleasure. The Yellowstone Park Camping Company's nightly camp-fires are one of the most pleasing features of the trip and constitute a source from which flow pleasant memories dear to those who have had the experience of a trip with a Camping Company. After the day's sight-seeing and the satisfying of the inner wants, a joyful throng is soon attached to the festivities under way at the camp-fire. The evening's pleasures are skillfully guided by talented entertainers and, gathered around the blazing pines, travelers from all sections of the world meet on a common basis, burdening cares are forgotten, the pine-laden air imbues the happy tourist with new life and hope and under the most favorable conditions the feeble barrier of non-acquaintance fades away, humanity's natural kinship manifests itself and the tie of friendliness is securely bound ere the first milestone of the journey is completed. The merrymakers soon grow enthusiastic, laughter and song, friendly banter and jovial story resound through the air. One feature of our camp-fire must not be forgotten—the pop-corn feast, after which we go to the dance hall, where one can either sit and listen to the beautiful strains of a four-piece orchestra or trip the light fantastic over the polished hardwood floors of these artistically built halls. At ten o'clock the music stops and thus the evening's entertainment brings to a close a day of wonder and an evening of joy."
Evening entertainment around the campfire.
Haynes Postcard 23364.

Left: Text from 1917 YP Camping Co. Brochure

The Boys Forest and Trail Camp was established in 1920 at Roosevelt to provide outdoors’ skills to young boys but only operated for about three years. A council house, swimming pool, and eight tent cabins were built on a rise just south of Roosevelt Lodge and above the horse corrals. The operation was directed by Alvin G. Whitney, alumnus of Dartmouth and Yale Forest School. The camp staff was composed of naturalists, foresters, and artists who instructed the students in photographing wild game, studying the fauna and flora, fishing, and mountain climbing. The Yellowstone Park Forest and Trail Camp was short-lived and closed after a few years due to financial losses of $4000 by the Yellowstone Park Camps Company.

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 innovation 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 exercise, 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 takes 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 will 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 gradually 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 of 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.
Advertising sign from the Yellowstone Park Camps Co. for Saddle Horse Tours, ca1923.
"This service is offered for those who want to combine the real Yellowstone wilderness with visits to the main scenic attractions, such as the geysers, the Grand Canyon, etc. The tour is made exclusively by saddle horse under the direction of a justly famous guide."  This "famous guide" was none other than
Tex Holm.

Vernon Goodwin, who had been manager of the Alexandria and Ambassador hotels in Los Angeles, purchased the YP Camps Co. in 1924 for $660,000 with financing by Harry Child. Although it technically became known as the Vernon Goodwin Co. the company continued to be referred to as the YP Camps Co. According to "Greater Los Angeles & Southern California Portraits & Personal Memoranda," Lewis Publishing Company, 1910:
 Goodwin was "born in Santa Rosa, Cal., Dec. 13, 1871. Chiefly educated in public and high schools (grad. from latter in 1889). Assistant postmaster of Santa Rosa for three years; resigned to take a law course, and admitted to practice in California Supreme Court, 1894. Principal of grammar school for three years, and later took a special English course at Stanford University. Served as Deputy County Auditor for four years and resigned to accept position with California Gas & Electric Corporation. Came to Los Angeles, 1895; now Secretary of the Bilicke-Rowan Fireproof Building Co., Bilicke-Rowan Annex Co., Alexandria Hotel Co. and Hollenbeck Hotel Co."  

  Rotarian Magazine, March 1926

H.W. Child kept his involvement in the new company quiet, much as White had done five years earlier. The purchase now cost Child four times what it would cost him in 1919.  Goodwin became company President and  A.L. Smith served as Secretary/Treasurer.  Ed Moorman, who had previously served as Secretary/Treasurer was brought into the deal and became Manager.  The company opened the Sylvan Pass Lodge in 1924, located near the East Entrance  The lodge, along the route from Cody to Lake Hotel, provided meals in a log lodge and guests could stay overnight in tent facilities. The lodge operated for ten years. 

Sylvan Lodge, Haynes Postcard #24071

Yellowstone Park Lodge & Camps Company - 1928-1936


The Yellowstone Park Lodge & Camps Co. came into existence in September 1928 when Harry Child bought out the YP Camps Co. (Vernon Goodwin Co.) Child, who also owned the transportation, hotel and boat operations in the park, now completed his monopolization of all the lodging facilities in Yellowstone.  The company continued the operation of lodges and camps at Old Faithful, Lake, Canyon, Fishing Bridge, West Thumb, Mammoth, and Roosevelt.  Goodwin remained in management with the Child enterprises and was listed as president of the YPLCCo while Ed Moorman was retained as general manager. This new company (new mostly just in name) invested $300,000 on new buildings at Canyon, Lake and Old Faithful.  Cafeterias were also built at the public auto camps at Old Faithful and West Thumb. The trend now was to focus on a lodge operation as opposed to tent facilities. Gradually the historic striped canvas sides and tops were replaced with more conventional wood structures. When Harry Child died in 1931, his son-in-law Wm. Nichols took over the operation and Goodwin became vice president of the YP Hotel Co.  

The Old Faithful Lodge in 1928 after completion of three sets of additions and renovations that began in 1921 on the
orginal Shaw & Powell Camping Co. lodge building.

  "From many years' experience, the Yellowstone Park Lodge and Camps Company has developed a truly remarkable system and service. The Lodges are located at the main centers of scenic interest. In each lodge, guests come first to a great central buildings, which house lobbies, dining halls, social assembly rooms, business headquarters, curio shops and many of the usual facilities of hotels and clubs. Surrounding the main buildings are the small lodges—of one-room, two-room and four-room capacity. They are of two types - (1.) log, (2.) rustic clap board - all substantially built, comfortable and well furnished. Each lodge is heated by a rustic wood-burning stove (for nights and mornings are cool in the mountains), the beds are full size and of high quality, the furniture plain but adequate. Lodges are electric lighted, of course. The dining rooms serve wholesome, well-cooked food."
YP Lodge & Camps Brochure ca1930

Lodge Dining Rooms
YP Lodge & Camps Brochure ca1930
OF Lodge, Haynes Postcard 28029
Lake Lodge, Haynes Postcard 29374
Canyon Lodge, Haynes Postcard 15040
Mammoth Lodge, Haynes Postcard 23295

 In 1936 the YPLCCo merged together with the other Child-Nichols interests into the Yellowstone Park Company. These interests included the Yellowstone Park Hotel Co., Yellowstone Park Transportation Co., and the Yellowstone Park Boat Co.  Wm Nichols was president, Vernon Goodwin vice-president, and Mrs. Harry Child remained a principle stockholder. The company embarked on an ambitious renovation plan which including the razing of the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel (Old National Hotel). The North Wing was retained and a new lobby/office complex constructed at the end of the wing. A separate restaurant, recreation hall, and cabins were also erected.  Many of the tent cabins at Mammoth Lodge were moved to Roosevelt Lodge and the MHS Lodge was shut down in 1940. It was the beginning of a new era for the company in Yellowstone, but the earlier vision of the tent camp operation became a lost relic of history.  

For more detailed information on the camping companies and Harry Child during this period of time, see
"When Harry Got Taken: The Early Days of the Yellowstone Camps."
by Mark Barringer, Annals of Wyoming magazine, Oct 1997.

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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