The Yellowstone Park Company administers as a privileged hotel stock company also transportation and has set a sort of day of rest for the horses that have to cover the arduous journey of 68 km from Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel to the Fountain Geyser Hotel at Lower Geyser Basin without a relay, which is generally used for an incredibly interesting three hour drive to the most beautiful and largest volcanic formations in the park in the Lower and Upper Geyser Basin.
Clam could not join our drive today as he was once again struck by a reminder of the tropical fever. Dense fog covered the whole ground in the morning but it lifted soon and made way for a very beautiful and relatively warm day. Before the departure we still had a hard struggle with our coachman who did not want to remove the large coach roof at all that restricted the view. Only when we had received the permission of the direction we had asked for by telegraph, did he grudgingly decide to comply with our wish, not without however breaking the construction of the roof.
The wagon first rumbled over a hollow sounding calcareous sinter terrace that made us fear to sink in, and in fact one of our rear wheels glided into a small crater of a hot spring. Barely five minutes distant from our hotel we spotted a capital wolf that was milling around 200 paces in front of us in an open space and which reawakened our vivid lamentation of not being permitted to hunt in the park. For a long time we were able to observe it at shooting distance until it disappeared into the woods looking back again and again towards us.
Very close to the Firehole River lies Excelsior Geyser that had had no eruptions since 1888, with a short exception in 1890, but in former times had been the most important in the basin and sent its water masses 60 to 90 m up into the air as a true „Geysir“, old Icelandic for berserker. Now one can only see a large crater with boiling hot water that is dark-blue in the middle and reddish at the edges due to the underlying deposits and that are reflected in the rising steam.
Close to the Excelsior Geyser our wagon stopped near the edge of the Turquoise Springs whose clear waters were truly of a turquoise color. Also remarkable are the springs nearby, Artemisia and Morning Glory.
A bridge over the Firehole river leads to the extended upper geyser basin which holds numerous springs and up to 40 geysers that we could already see from near the bridge. First we saw the Riverside Geyser whose eruption happening at certain intervals we unfortunately had missed, then the Grotto that has created some sort of vault and a cone above its spring. The next geyser is called Castle due to its crater form and erupts in irregular periods and resembles in my opinion a tall smoking chimney.
The most beautiful and largest currently active geyser is the Old Faithful that fully earns its name as it keeps exactly to its times of eruption, 65 minutes of rest and 4 minutes of show. We thus could use the remaining half hour to the next eruption to visit a snow-white lime terrace that was carrying a good number of fountains on its vaulted surface. Thus the Beehive with its beehive-like cone that has been formed in such a regular way that one could think it is a work of art. The strange black-purple water color marks the Giantess who erupts only every 14 days while her husband, the Giant, is very moody and produces his water spectacles in intervals that can’t be predicted.
Very cute small geysers are the „sponge“ and the „butterfly“ that vividly blow out small water jets aggrandising themselves. The former completely resembles a sponge in color and look, while the latter exactly matches the contours of the wings of a butterfly. At the Lion and the Lioness, small geysers with cone-shaped craters, one notices a bubble-like hard sinter deposit at the outer wall which is tempting to take a souvenir of a small piece as something new and not yet seen. But this is prevented by the severe watchful soldier who does not leave any travel group unattended. He prevented any catch and stepped in when Imhof finally had managed with great effort to get a piece of the sinter and hide it, so that he again plucked the valuable treasure out of the pocket of the sinner.
Our guide made us aware that it was time to return to the Old Faithful where my curiosity led me to take a look at the already rumbling crater, an undertaking that was punished by a hot steam cloud that suddenly enclosed me and burned strongly. Immediately after the eruption followed, the huge water mass rose like an immense fountain spring to about 45 m, presenting a gorgeous spectacle whose effect was much improved by the beautiful weather, the deep-blue sky and the dark-green background of the fir tree woods. As quickly as it had appeared, the gigantic water jet that looked different on every side sank back into the crater whose surrounding area consists of a small basin in the form of a wave where the remaining water quickly evaporates.
The hunger that comes with the enjoyment of nature is quenched in a wooden hotel where one eats breakfast. As the Old Faithful erupts, as noted, every 65 minutes we waited for the next eruption to admire it once more and take photographs.
The named geysers and springs is far from being a complete list of such attractions here. That’s why I still visited a number of other geysers in the afternoon with a light wagon. One might believe that one more or less resembles the other and that one soon tires of further visits. But this is not the case as each wonder of nature distinguishes itself by special features and strange aspects.
The Grotto we had already seen in the morning pleased us by just then offering a show by sending out a cascade of hot water from multiple openings at the same time. Then we came to the Punch Bowl, a boiling spring with a raised edge, then to the White Pyramid, a cone of a defunct crater, the Splendid Geyser, Fan, Mortar and all others of these spectacles of nature that still might be named. In a small side valley we were blinded by the snow-white deposits of multiple springs that extended there like a moraine there and had in time turned the dead trees into stone.
Hodek wanted to photograph in an especially picturesque pose appropriate to the character of the region and asked us to climb the very steep crater of the apparently quiet Castle Geyser and take up position at the narrow edge. This image of the audacious climb of the crater would have been very original but Prónay and I had hardly arrived at the top when our intention seemed to displease the old Castle, as suddenly it started to erupt and to spout water over us while hot steam also burned Prónay’s nose. Involuntarily we had to admit that our undertaking had not been more sensible than what the German had done at the Constant Geyser, and sought relief from our failed enterprise by watching the show of the Old Faithful again from a distance.
We returned to the hotel on a different route than we arrived on which we had to pass a rather deep ford of the Firehole River with the wagon while multiple flocks of geese were quacking. While my gentlemen still undertook an evening stroll, I remained in the hotel to write in my diary until the splendid moon rise enticed me to go outside again.
- Location: Fountain Geyser Hotel, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA
- ANNO – on 23.09.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
- The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing the drama „Fromont junior und Risler senior“. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is performing the opera „Werther“.