“Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the tract of land in the Territories of Montana and Wyoming, lying near the headwaters of the Yellowstone river . . . is hereby reserved and withdrawn from settlement, occupancy, or sale under the laws of the United States, and dedicated and set apart as a public park or pleasureing-ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.” The signing of that monumental piece of legislation by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872, was the start of the best idea America ever had–our National Parks. In 1997, we have the opportunity to commemorate and celebrate the 125th anniversary of the establishment of Yellowstone National Park and the beginning of the national park idea. Several 125th Anniversary events have been planned [for 1997], and the public is welcome to attend. Specific news releases about each event will be provided, approximately two weeks prior to the event. Events include:March 1: The official birthday of Yellowstone National Park. The Mammoth Post Office will be offering a commemorative stamp cancellation from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., and National Park Service staff will be present to greet visitors, answer questions, and serve birthday cake and punch. Stamped, self-addressed envelopes can be mailed to the Postmaster at P.O. Box 9998, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 82190 for cancellation.
April 20-26: National Parks Week. Activities will include a March for Parks in Livingston, Montana, on Saturday, April 26, and special activities in area schools sponsored by the National Park Service and the Greater Yellowstone Coalition.
August 1: Dedication of Bison Exhibit at Canyon Visitor Center. This new exhibit is presented in cooperation with the Buffalo Bill Historical Center of Cody, Wyoming.
August 17: Military Appreciation Day. The park will recognize the significant contribution of the military during their 30-year administration of the park from 1886 until the formation of the National Park Service in 1916. Military bands, reenactor troops, and the dedication of the new self-guided walking tour of historic Fort Yellowstone at Mammoth Hot Springs will be the highlight of the weekend-long event.
August 25: National Park Service birthday celebration at Old Faithful. The National Park Service was established on this date in 1916. Plans call for a special program with national and state dignitaries.
October 12 – 14: Fourth Biennial Scientific Conference on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem: People and Place, The Human Experience in Greater Yellowstone. This conference will focus on the human experience in the greater Yellowstone, with particular emphasis on the changing relationships between nature and culture and on the challenges of preserving and interpreting the region’s cultural heritage.
When President Ulysses S. Grant signed the Yellowstone Park Act, no one foresaw the worldwide rippling effect of his action. In the United States today there are 374 unique places where this Nation preserves its natural and cultural diversity and heritage. Furthermore, the national park idea has spread, and now more than 140 other nations have modeled their own national park systems after ours.
Superintendent Michael Finley stated, “We are able to celebrate Yellowstone’s anniversary today because of the vision of those who preceded us 125 years ago. Anniversaries are occasions for both celebration and examination. Only through an evaluation of the road we have travelled and serious consideration of the values and feelings we presently have about our national parks can we intelligently consider the direction that we need to head in the coming years. How we meet the challenges today will determine what we as a people will celebrate 125 years from now.”
For further information or questions regarding the 125th Anniversary celebrations, please contact the Public Affairs office at the above-listed numbers.