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GHM Monthly Speaker Series-Rediscovering Wonderland: How the Great Depression Shaped Yellowstone National Park-Bruce Gourley

  • Hager Auditorium 600 West Kagy Boulevard Bozeman, MT, 59717 United States (map)

Please join the Gallatin History Museum for the first presentation of the fall GHM Monthly Speaker Series, Wednesday September 4th at 6pm in the Hager Auditorium at Museum of the Rockies.

Amid economic boom times that produced great wealth inequality, on the cusp of the Great Depression the future of Yellowstone remained murky. Historically a tourist destination for persons of wealth, the coming of age of the automobile placed Yellowstone within reach of many middle-class families. Even so, the great red doors of Old Faithful Inn remained closed to all except paying lodgers, while the park’s roads were not yet paved. Some powerful voices yet envisioned Yellowstone as a European-like luxury resort; other, newer voices called for the primacy of nature. Even as wolves disappeared, victims of anti-predatory administrative policies, and bears begged food from tourists and gorged on human food in park service bear feeding grounds as spectators watched from nearby log benches, a few forward-thinkers cautiously questioned the damage done by unnatural management of wildlife.

At this critical moment in Yellowstone’s history America was suddenly plunged into the greatest economic downturn in the nation’s history.

The volume is the story of how the Yellowstone we know today paradoxically emerged during the catastrophe of Great Depression. Many of the pillars of 21st-century Yellowstone – including professional ranger naturalists, scientifically-based decision-making, holistic ecosystem management, interpretive museums, visitor accessibility, visitor infrastructure, marketing practices and modern tourism – trace their beginnings to the most unlikeliest of eras in American history.

Dr. Bruce T. Gourley (PhD, Auburn University) is the founder and editor of Yellowstone History Journal, the first journal devoted exclusively to the history of Yellowstone National Park, and the author of eight history books.

Bruce is also the creator and owner of the Yellowstone.Net website, a part-time instructor at Montana State University, and an award-winning photographer juried by Tom Murphy.

Bruce’s books include volumes on the American Civil War, Religion in America, and local history. One of his books, Images of America: Manhattan, Belgrade, Amsterdam and Churchill, was published in conjunction with the Gallatin Historical Society.

His current book project, slated for publication by the University of Oklahoma Press in 2022 in conjunction with the 150th anniversary of Yellowstone National Park, is tentatively titled, “Rediscovering Wonderland: How the Great Depression Shaped Yellowstone National Park.”