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Rediscovering Wonderland

My next book is scheduled for publication on Feb. 1. It’s the story of the Washburn Expedition of 1870, a group of Montana officials and businessmen whose credibility could not be doubted like that of mountain men whose earlier descriptions were dismissed at “tall tales.” The expedition searched for all the wonders they had heard about — towering waterfalls, deep canyons, a giant lake and spouting geysers — and were awed when they found them. Their return is delayed by a summer snow storm and a search for a missing man. Truman Everts was lost alone in the wilderness for 37 days.

Sidesaddles and Geysers

This anthology of first person-accounts by women who toured Yellowstone Park more than a century ago includes tales of high adventure, raucous humor, and glorious sights of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Including a wide range of stories by women who visited from all over the world and at all ages, these accounts reveal their wonder at the interior of the park, the weeks they traveled on horseback through the roadless wilderness, and the later luxuries of well-maintained roads, comfortable carriages, and fancy hotels.

Encounters in Yellowstone

Position or Job Title

In 1877  Nez Perce Indians refused to be herded onto a tiny reservation and left their homelands in Idaho and Washington hoping to make a new life with friendly tribes in the buffalo country of Montana. When the Army attacked their sleeping village on the Banks of the Big Hole River, the Nez Perce repulsed their enemies and fled leaving 83 dead, mostly women and children. To avoid white settlements they made their way through the wilderness of Yellowstone Park. The chiefs tried to avoid contact with whites, but hot headed young warriors shot a man in the head and captured two young women. Later they killed a music teacher while he stood in the doorway of a remote cabin. Based on first-person accounts by the Indians, tourists and soldiers who lived those terrifying experiences, Encounters in Yellowstone, will tell the story of the Nez Perce’ doomed flight through America’s most beloved national park.

The Stories of Yellowstone

The Stories of Yellowstone Adventure: Tales from the World’s First National Park, contains 72 stories of 400 to 2,000 words. The stories are organized in twelve parts with titles like “Mountain Men,” “Hunting” and “Bear Stories.” The entire book will be about 60,000 words including introductions for each part and story.

I collected the stories for my Humanities Montana presentation, “Sidesaddles and Geysers,” and for my blog. I have edited the stories to make easy reading for today’s readers. Longer items have been condensed to focus on dramatic stories and events. I have been careful to retain the original authors’ styles because they convey their personalities and emotions.

The stories in the book span the period from 1807, when John Colter first discovered the wonders of the Yellowstone plateau to the 1920s when tourists sped between luxury hotels in their automobiles. The earliest stories recount mountain men’s awe at geysers hurling boiling water hundreds of feet into the air and their gun battles with hostile Indians. The latest stories are set in a time when matrons felt comfortable taking children to the park without an adult male accompanying them.

Macon’s Perfect Shot

After publishing my non-fiction book, Adventures in Yellowstone (Globe Pequot 2009), I found I had lots of great adventures left over, so I created a 14-year-old boy to live them. Macon’s Perfect Shot is the result.

Fourteen-year-old Macon Josey must earn enough money so his widowed mother won’t have to give up his baby sister for adoption. He sees a chance when Uncle Bird Calfee offers him a job caring for art equipment on a trip to the brand new Yellowstone Park. Macon’s mother fears marauding Indians, boiling geysers and ferocious bears, but Uncle Bird promises her he’ll stay on routes that avoid danger, and he’ll teach Macon to shoot his father’s rifle. Macon learns to be a sharpshooter while he and Uncle Bird travel meeting colorful characters and seeing hot springs, waterfalls, and canyons. This new skill becomes crucial after Uncle Bird falls into a geyser and Macon has to figure out how to get his scalded friend home. The only way is to head straight toward a band of murderous horse thieves.

Adventures in Yellowstone

Gripping first-person accounts of the early years of America’s most cherished national park.

After its establishment in 1872, Yellowstone National Park was sufficiently famous that a surprising number of people risked bear maulings, Indian attacks, and geyser burns just to glimpse its wonders. Many of those who survived wrote about their adventures. The best of those stories are collected here, in Adventures in Yellowstone.

From Osborne Russell’s colorful early accounts of the daily lives of mountain men in the 1840s to a story by Eleanor Corthell, who in 1903 took her seven children on a two-month, 1,200-mile tour of the park by wagon, each story opens a new window on a long-overlooked aspect of our nation’s history

Get my books from your local bookseller: Indie Book Store Finder. Or buy them at: AmazonBarnes & NobleBookshop.OrgBooks-A-Million, or Rowman & Littlefield.