Today is Veterans Day, and we honor the men and women who are serving and have served.
Yellowstone has a long and proud association with the military. While struggling for many years with limited staff and budget in an effort to stop poachers in Yellowstone’s early years, the U.S. Army was called upon to protect the park in 1886. In August of that year, Lieutenant General Philip Sheridan sent Company M, 1st U.S. Cavalry to the Park, where they established Camp Sheridan, named after General Sheridan, at Mammoth Hot Springs.
Camp Sheridan consisted of temporary facilities at the base of Capitol Hill just east of the Mammoth Hot Springs travertine terraces. None of the facilities that made up Camp Sheridan remain. They were all removed long ago. Then Congress appropriated funds for a permanent fort in 1891, and the Interior Department allocated land just north of Camp Sheridan for permanent facilities and renamed it Fort Yellowstone on May 11, 1891.
The army used Fort Yellowstone until October 1918 when they turned over control of the park and the fort to the newly formed National Park Service. Fort Yellowstone was designated a National Historic Landmark on July 31, 2003. The fort, along with concessionaire facilities that were built after the National Park Service took control of the park, is known as the Mammoth Hot Springs Historic District.
During the 32 years the U.S. Army was in the park, it set a standard of excellence for conservation and protection of the many special features and landmarks in Yellowstone and the surrounding area that guides the National Park Service to this day. You can see reminders of their presence after all these years, in the stone and tile roofed structures of Fort Yellowstone in Mammoth Hot Springs, which are still used by the park for administration and residences.
In honor of Veterans Day, the National Parks have free admission today for all visitors. Here, the North and Northeast Entrances to Yellowstone National Park will be open, weather permitting. All other park entrances and interior roads are closed due to snowy weather.