On the Page: Death in Yellowstone

A lot of my reading gets driven by books I find in thrift stores. I’m a sucker for a fifty cent book about a topic I might care about—Death in Yellowstone: Accidents and Foolhardiness in the First National Park by Lee H. Whittlesey is one of those books and I’m really glad I picked it up. (I read the first edition, the affiliate link above and the photo below are from the second edition that includes updates from deaths throughout the 2000s.)

The book is a little bit dry at times and gets a little bit stuck on enumerating all the deaths that the author can find record of but more often, I found myself amazed by the wide variety of ways that people found their demise in Yellowstone. They managed to fall into hotsprings (quite a few people, actually), got too close to bison, were attacked by bears, froze to death, and drowned.

Whittlesley also explores the human caused deaths within the park although I found these substantially less exciting; many of them were from the earliest days of the park and details were definitely sketchy. It was certainly clear that Yellowstone was once part of the “Wild West” though!

As I mentioned, sometimes the prose is a little bit lacking but this was a fascinating way to look at our first National Park. Maybe I’m a little bit morbid but I would love to read similar books for other national parks and famous outdoor recreation areas. Again, a little macabre but pick up this book for some interesting reading before your Yellowstone adventure: you certainly won’t want to step off the boardwalk to pet a bison.



I purchased this book myself and all opinions are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

The Call of The Wild

Friday the front page news here in the Valley was that wolves had attacked and killed a dog in Burke.

WALLACE — Domestic dogs were attacked by four wolves around 6 p.m. Wednesday night on the 600 block of Burke Road, just outside of Wallace.

One dog died and another sustained a facial bite, said Shoshone County Sheriff Mitch Alexander, and there were many wolf tracks in the area.

Idaho Fish and Game notified residents in the area and informed them that it is legal to shoot the wolf pack.

Mullan resident Barry Sadler didn’t just have his dogs attacked by wolves a few years ago — they chased his daughter into the front door and came right up on his porch.

“They just can’t coexist with people,” he said. “It’s impossible … as long as they run wild, they’ll continue to kill everything until there’s nothing left.”

Sadler shot and killed one of the offending wolves. His wife, who was inside at the time watching out the window, said that while he was lying on his stomach shooting, one was watching him from about 25 feet away.

He said wolves just chew animals up a lot of the time without eating them, and called them “treacherous and filthy.” The percentage of what they kill versus what they eat is less than 10 percent, Sadler said.

Regarding Wednesday’s attack, he said people don’t realize that wolves would rather eat dogs than any other animal.

“They hate each other,” he said. “They’ll kill dogs any chance they get.”

And his dogs have killed wolves themselves — they’ll come up to the porch covered in blood, he said.

Sadler said he’s not a hunter, and at first, the thought of hunting wolves made him sad because they reminded him of dogs. But then he saw what they’re capable of.

“I know God doesn’t make mistakes,” he said, “but I tell you what — the fly, the mosquito and the wolf … I don’t know what He was thinking when He made those three.”

Calls made to Idaho Fish and Game official Josh Stanley about the attack weren’t immediately returned.

Kelsey Saintz, Shoshone News Press, January 13, 2012

At 4:28pm last night Spokane news station KHQ posted news was that there was another wolf attack on a chained dog in the same area. By 5:20pm they had revised the report to state it was “wild dogs.” Apparently Idaho Fish and Game had showed up and said there were lots of tracks in the area but no wolf tracks.

Saturday morning the front page had a correction: no wolves were involved in either attack. Continue reading “The Call of The Wild”

October 7, 2010-October 6, 2011

Today marks a year of living in the Silver Valley. I cannot believe how much has changed in our lives.

Moving: A year ago today, I’d just finished up moving all of our stuff (Forrest’s tools and bikes included!) from Missoula to a storage unit here. I’d arranged to live in the basement of a real estate agency for three weeks while we waited to move into our rental house (we were picky and wanted a place we could heat with wood). I was waiting for Forrest to come back from North Dakota.

Sprocket is a lazy packing helper

Continue reading “October 7, 2010-October 6, 2011”

Yellowstone, Day 2

Our second day in Yellowstone started in the parking lot of Canyon Village. We ate a quick breakfast in the cafeteria and headed for Mt. Washburn. It was a short and sweet 3.1 mile climb to the summit. It was one of those hikes with a perfect grade–we didn’t feel like we were working but still managed to gain 1,400 feet!

Summit of Mt. Washburn (10,241 ft.)

After the hike we headed up the Lamar River Valley towards the Northeast entrance of the park. That was by far the most beautiful part of the park in my opinion–there were just some gorgeous mountain cliffs and the valley got nice and small as we approached the park entrance.

Continue reading “Yellowstone, Day 2”

Yellowstone, Day 1

F and I had planned on going to Yellowstone last September to remedy the fact that I’d never been there…and then he went to North Dakota and I found myself moving our life from Missoula to Silver Valley.

Thursday, after a quick pit stop in Missoula to drop off Sprocket and Forrest’s North Dakota gear, we drove to the park. We camped Cherokee stealth style in the parking lot at Mammoth and I was reminded about how badly I need a new sleeping bag…my summer one just isn’t cutting it on chilly nights.

Sunrise Over Mammoth Hot Springs

We spent the morning seeing the sights between Mammoth and Old Faithful. After watching Old Faithful, we had lunch at Old Faithful Lodge. We were highly disappointed with the quality of food that was served; I guess that’s what we get for contracting out all concessions in our national parks… Continue reading “Yellowstone, Day 1”