The complete story of our first national park, from the land's formation millions of years ago, to its designation as our first national park in 1872, to its current state. It's a story of inspiration, endurance, and foresight...
Yellowstone National Park was anointed with its status as the nation’s first national park in 1872, a symbol of ground-breaking and wise United States policy providing a lead example for other countries at a time when the United States’ mindset was more focused on Manifest Destiny.
It was one of the pioneering examples, just as Yosemite had been, of mankind taking a step back from aggressive, blind development with a first glance toward long-term preservation for future generations. There seemed to be an awakening to the riches of landscape the U.S. possessed and the dawning of an awareness that if not careful a reckless human presence could ruin it all.
Yellowstone has passed through many stages, from the geological formation era of millions of years ago, to what would have to be characterized as a modern era of management beginning shakily in 1872, up to the present day. Current Park superintendent Cam Sholly said it has probably been only in the last 50 years or so an enlightened management program has truly focused on all-around preservation.
For many people, Yellowstone represents their favorite place on earth, the most beautiful paradise on the planet, yet a place somehow accessible and mostly unspoiled, in accordance with the original pledge to future generations. This is the story of the park, the jewel of our National Park System.
Lew Freedman is the author of nearly sixty books on sports, including Clouds over the Goalpost, The Original Six, and A Summer to Remember, and is the winner of more than 250 journalism awards. A veteran sportswriter, Freedman was formerly a staff writer for the Chicago Tribune and Philadelphia Inquirer, as well as other papers, and lives in Columbus, Indiana.