When I received my copy of the fall issue of the Pioneer Museum Quarterly last week, I was delighted to see an article about Charles D. Loughrey, a Bozeman pioneer photographer. I had examined the museum’s collection of Loughrey’s photographs but didn’t know much about him.
Jacob Rubow of the museum staff dug through Loughrey’s diary and a reminiscence by his brother-in-law, Jack Bean, to glean stories from their lives. One of those stories was about a hunting trip where Bean guided two Englishmen through the park. Hunting inside the park was illegal then, so Bean took his clients to places nearby so they could bag their trophies. And Loughrey was on hand to document the magnificent specimens.
I asked Jacob if I could post the hunting story on my blog. I’m delighted that he obliged.
In August, 1889, two Englishmen, Messrs. Lennard and Beach, hired Jack Bean, a resident of Bozeman, Montana, to lead them on a hunting trip through Yellowstone National Park and points beyond. Bean, who then earned a living as a guide for hunters and the cavalry out of Fort Ellis, enlisted his friend and brother-in-law, Charles D. Loughrey, as cook and photographer for the expedition. Loughrey had once owned a photography studio in Bozeman, and although the venture was short lived, his photographs, combined with his dutifully-kept journals, have left behind a rarity among historical sources: an illustrated account of the Gallatin Valley and greater Yellowstone region as he saw it in the late nineteenth century. As a frequent companion on Jack Bean’s hunting trips, Loughrey captured striking views of remote corners of the Gallatin Valley, Yellowstone, and the Snake River and Tetons. His diary entries, which chronicle the daily pace of life in the late nineteenth century as well as his and Bean’s adventures in Yellowstone, run from concise to sparse, but, as the saying goes, his pictures are worth a thousand words.
On August 8, Loughrey and Bean rode into Bozeman through a haze of late-summer smoke blown before a hard east wind. There, they purchased food and had their horses freshly shod. Loughrey spent the next two days busily repairing and fitting his camera with a new lens, packing supplies, and accompanying his wife Ida and family to town “to see a street dog show given by some medicine men.” Then, on the morning of August 11, Loughrey took a bath and set off through the clearing smoke to meet Bean and his assistant guides. The men camped that night amidst heavy thundershowers in the Gallatin Mountains, and spent the following night cussing the building smoke along the Yellowstone River. On the thirteenth, the party camped above the Yankee Jim Tollgate, and on the fourteenth Loughrey wrote a letter to Ida from their camp above Gardiner. While Bean and the other guides spent the next three days waiting in town for the Englishmen, Loughrey explored Mammoth Hot Springs and claimed the hunting party’s first victim, a rattlesnake.
On Sunday, August 18, with Englishmen in tow, the expedition crossed into the park, camping first at Tower Falls, then spending a “very wet and disagreeable” night in a snowstorm downstream from the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone. A spell of clear, cold weather followed the snowstorm, and the group traveled quickly past the Grand Canyon and Falls, camped at Yellowstone Lake, and then paused at the Upper Geyser Basin on the 23rd. Loughrey lagged behind to take a view of Lewis Falls before exiting the park on the 25th, and rejoined the party later that afternoon at a camp near the Snake River. The enthusiastic hunters spent their first evening beyond the park boundary searching for elk, but returned to camp empty handed. Loughrey stayed in camp on the 27th, washing clothing and photographing the horses grazing beside a stream in a small park. The hunters went out, and Jack Bean “killed a cow elk, which caused great rejoicing in camp.”
The men spent the next few weeks crisscrossing the area around the Tetons and Snake River, fishing with great success, but hunting with mixed results. They quickly settled into a routine, with the hunters and guides fishing and hunting in pairs most evenings, and Loughrey tending to the camp, cooking, washing clothing, and diligently maintaining his photographic equipment. The hunters pursued elk, deer, and pronghorn “with blood in their eyes,” and when they met with success Loughrey dutifully marched out to capture views of the hunters posing with their trophies, and to collect the antlers. In addition to these portraits of victorious hunters, Loughrey captured candid views of the men in camp, striking images of the Tetons rising above Jackson Lake, and scenic glimpses of the horses and pack animals grazing in mountain parks. On September 20, returning northward, the party passed through Rexburg, Idaho, where Bean purchased sugar and dried fruit. The next day, they reached Market Lake, and in a flurry of activity, Bean packed the Englishmen’s things while Loughrey made portraits of the group and sent a letter to Ida on the five o’clock train. The men ate dinner that night with Captain Head, with whom they “[drank] liquor and [ate] fruit till half past nine.” The Englishmen left on the three o’clock train the next morning. Loughrey, Bean, and company packed up “with the wind howling and all hands cursing,” and started for home, taking care not to “let any grass grow under the horses [sic] feet.”
Despite a snowstorm and Loughrey’s brief bout with a bug that prevented his eating breakfast on the 24th, the party continued their rapid pace homeward. They camped at Henry’s Lake, then at a creek near the Upper Madison Basin. From there the men crossed over to the Gallatin River, and set off down the Canyon. The group made a final camp at Sheep Rock on September 29, reaching the Bean and Loughrey farms on Rocky Creek, east of Bozeman, at half-past-two the next afternoon. Bean and Loughrey arrived at Bean’s house to find their wives gone to town. The two ate dinner, and then went out to check the garden. Loughrey ran into the ladies on his way home, and returned with them to Bean’s house where they stayed all night. The following evening, the Beans and Loughreys took dinner in town with their in-laws, the Rowlands. On Wednesday, October 22, 1889, a clear day, Loughrey “pitch forked some potatoes before dinner,” “cleaned the chicken house out and pulled the beans.” It was good to be home.
This piece is a portion of a larger work from the Pioneer Museum Quarterly and draws upon: Jack Bean’s Reminiscences: Real Hunting Trails, and Charles D. Loughrey’s journals both of which are in the collections of the Pioneer Museum of Bozeman.
— Photo from the Bean Collection, Pioneer Museum of Bozeman.
— You also might enjoy Jack Bean’s story, Colonel Pickett Gets His Bear.
— You can read more about Jack Bean in my book Adventures in Yellowstone.
One thought on “A Tale: Pioneer Photographer Documents Hunting Expedition Near Yellowstone Park — 1889”
I love this photograph. Would you ever licence it for use as the cover photo of a novel?