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Larry's Lunch Stations
Sylvan & Trout Creek

Yellowstone Hotels & Lodges:
Sylvan Pass Lodge and Trout Creek Lunch Station

Copyright 2009 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.

Click Here for 1916 Map of Yellowstone Park 
(Keep in mind that Cody is actually 50 miles east of the East Entrance and that Pahaska should be where Cody is placed. Sylvan Lodge was just outside the East Entrance. Trout Creek is located in Hayden Valley)

Trout Creek Lunch Station

[Visit my Bio's page on Larry Mathews]
 This color sketch of the Trout Creek Lunch Station is one of the few known images of that early operation in Yellowstone. The operation began in 1888 by YPA under the management of Larry Mathews. Trout Creek flows east to the Yellowstone River in Hayden Valley and a road from Fountain Flats was built in 1880-81 that passed over Mary Mountain and crossed Trout Creek, roughly paralleling the creek and joining a road from Canyon to Lake.  The Trout Creek Station was the halfway point in the journey, offering travelers a break in their journey to have lunch and freshen up a bit. This was the main route of travelers visiting Canyon and Lake until 1892 when a new road was built over Craig Pass from Old Faithful to West Thumb. That year the Yellowstone Park Association and Mathews moved the operation to West Thumb to provide lunch services along the new road.
[Photo courtesy of YNP Archives, #YELL 109730]

 Larry Mathews (also Larry Matthews) was an entertaining Irishman who managed establishments in Yellowstone from 1888 to 1904. Trout Creek became the first Larry's Lunch Station in 1888.  Larry moved his business to West Thumb in 1891 to service the new route between Old Faithful and Lake Hotel.  Larry moved to Norris in 1893 after a fire destroyed the second Norris Hotel in 1892.  All of these lunch stations were owned by the Yellowstone Park Asso. (YPA), but became known as "Larry's Lunch Stations" due to his colorful and vibrant personality. "Trout Creek Larry" is shown her with his baby daughter "Lizzie" at what is probably the Norris Lunch Station.
A writer for the
Burton Homes Travelogues noted in the mid-1890's: "What traveler does not remember Larry Matthews and his canvas palace? Who can forget his cheery welcome when lifting the ladies from the coach . . . And who can forget the honest Irish face of landlord Larry Matthews? His ready wit is remarkable."
 [Thanks to Pat Perry of Delmar, NY for this photo]

Days Forever Flown
by May A. Haslehurst
Privately Printed, New York, 1892
Excerpt describing a portion of Ms. Haslehurst's Yellowstone tour in 1891 where she 
describes the journey to the Trout Creek Lunch Station:
    "We passed over "Mary's Mountain," a very precipitous climb, one bit of road being so narrow and rough, that Jamie and I walked up it, and found afterwards that we had climbed, not " the golden stairs," but the " Devil's Ladder." It was on this mountain, about a year ago, that a buffalo appeared in front of a stage-load of people, frightening the horses so terribly, that they ran away and upset the stage. Fortunately only one person was injured.
    After driving about sixteen miles, we came to a hollow in between the hills, and there found a little collection of tents, and were informed that it was "Larry's Lunch Station!" It was a most remarkable place, one tent for a dining-room, one for a waiting-room, a kitchen, and all the necessary requirements; and elk-horns, with their great branches, ornamented every available space in front of the entrance to this remarkable abode. On the white canvas were grotesque drawings, two of which we photographed.
    The owner of this quaint lunch station, was a roaring Irishman, with a fund of ready wit and humor, really remarkable and truly amusing. He acted the part of host to perfection, in his shirtsleeves and little round skull cap, and although "his guests" sat down at his bountiful board as strangers, they arose as friends, for his remarks, as he walked back and forth from one to the other, to see that all were waited upon, produced such an uproar, that we lost all formality and ceremony while in that tent. A long wooden bench stretched down each side of the table, and one either had to go in at the end, or climb over. As one lady climbed to her place at the table, Larry exclaimed "Please, lady, don't soil the upholstery," and soon perceiving some haste on the part of one person present, he shouted, "You have one hour and a half to eat; this ain't no twenty minute lunch counter."
    Just as we were all seated and had opened our Japanese napkins, and prepared for our meal, Larry electrified us all, by shouting at the top of his decidedly loud voice, "Let her go, coffee," and to our surprise, from another tent near by, there came a young man, with an earthenware pitcher full of really excellent coffee. It was surprising how good things did taste to us all.
    After leaving Larry's, we drove through a long stretch of desolate country, owing to the loss of trees, but were surrounded by mountains; and as we crept along, we kept coming nearer and nearer to such a peculiar mountain, so white and green and yellow all over, and discovered that we were viewing the famous Sulphur Mountain, a most remarkable formation of almost pure sulphur. A boiling spring lies right at the foot, on the road-side, and was in a very active bubbling state. . ."

Sylvan Pass Lodge & Lunch Station

 This rustic lodge was the last of the lodge operations to be built in the park. It was designed to service tourists traveling the 50-mile journey from the rail depot at Cody to the Lake Hotel. Although designed primarily as a lunch station, tents facilities were available for overnight guests. The lodge was located not on Sylvan Pass, but near the east entrance of the park, probably on the former Wylie Camping Co. site that closed after the 1916 season. Opening in 1924, the lodge was only operated about 10 years and was finally torn down in 1940.
[H.H. Tammen Co. Postcard #4541
"Sylvan Lunch Station on Cody Road to Yellowstone Park"]

 [Haynes Postcard #24071 - Sylvan Pass Lodge on Cody Road"]  [Photo Courtesy YNP Archives YELL 32187 - Sylvan Pass Lodge]

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