Live Science reported yesterday that Yellowstone’s Giantess Geyser was erupting for the first time in two and a half years. When I heard the news, I immediately searched my files to see if I had a first-hand account by an early tourist who actually watched the geyser play. No luck.
Lots of people mention the Giantess in their description of the Upper Geyser Basin, but it seems they are usually borrowing from guidebook descriptions. Here’s an example from W. W. Wylie’s 1882 Yellowstone guidebook. It would be interesting to know if this year’s eruption follows the pattern Wylie described.
The Giantess is upon the summit of the formation, about 100 yards to the northeast of the Bee-hive. It is a large oval aperture, with scalloped edges, the diameters of which are twenty-five and eighteen feet. This Geyser is very irregular, acting once in about fourteen days. The crater is usually full and boiling gently; gives no warning of an approaching eruption. The beautiful walls may be seen to a great depth through the wonderfully transparent water.
When this Geyser does act, the eruption at intervals of about forty minutes lasts for twelve to sixteen hours; so that, although it may begin in the night, it may be seen in daylight. When it begins an eruption, for some minutes it throws 250 feet high, but after this not eighty feet high. Its action is very much like that of the Splendid, in viewing which one finds a very good substitutejbr the Giantess.
— Page 36 in The Yellowstone National Park or the Great American Wonderland by William Wallace Wylie,Ramsey, Kansas City, MO.:Millett and Hudson, 1882.
— Photo from the Yellowstone Digital Slide File.