Yellowstone and the Great West: Journals, Letters, and Images from the 1871 Hayden Expedition

By Marlene Deahl Merrill | Go to book overview

Appendix 4.
Hayden's Yellowstone Report to the Committee on the Public Lands and the Yellowstone Park Bill

This report is a synopsis of Hayden's draft report on Yellowstone which the Committee on the Public Lands approved and passed along with Chairman Mark Dunnel's signature. It appears along with the park bill "The Yellowstone Park" as House Report 764, 42d Congress, 2d session, February 27, 1872. After its passage by Congress, President Grant signed the bill on March 1, 1872.

The bill now before Congress has for its object the withdrawal from settlement, occupancy, or sale, under the laws of the United States, a tract of land fifty-five by sixty-five miles, about the sources of the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers, and dedicates and sets it apart as a great national park or pleasure-ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people. The entire area comprised within the limits of the reservation contemplated in this bill is not susceptible of cultivation with any degree of certainty, and the winters would be too severe for stock-raising. Whenever the altitude of the mountain districts exceeds 6,000 feet above tide-water, their settlement becomes problematical unless there are valuable mines to attract people. The entire area within the limits of the proposed reservation is over 6,000 feet in altitude, and the Yellowstone Lake, which occupies an area fifteen by twenty-two miles, or three hundred and thirty square miles, is 7,427 feet. The ranges of mountains that hem the valleys in on every side rise to the height of 10,000 to 10,000 feet, and are covered with snow all the year. These mountains are all of volcanic origin, and it is not probable that any mines or minerals of value will ever be found there. During the months of June, July, and August the climate is pure and most invigorating, with scarcely any rain or storms of any kind, but the thermometer frequently sinks as low as 26°. There is

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