online book

Book Cover
Cover Page




NPS Associated


Arrowhead Patch
Cap Insignia
Collar Ornaments
Hatband & Straps
Law Enforcement Insignia
Length-of-Service Insignia
Sleeve Brassards
Tie Ornaments & Pins





Harry S. Yount
Harry S. Yount, c.1873. Though Yount is traditionally considered to be the first national park ranger, there were others assisting the superintendent in Yellowstone National Park before him. He worked as a "game keeper" (1880-1881) for one year before quitting, claiming the park was too big for one man to patrol. All known images of Yount were taken prior to his residency at the park. There is no evidence that he ever carried a badge. He probably worked by the old Western adage that "might makes right." NPSHPC-HFC/91-0023

Although Congress authorized the use of Army troops to protect Yellowstone National Park in 1883, when they started patrolling in 1886 they were only empowered to escort the offenders out of the park, not arrest them. Here and in the California national parks that came into being after 1890, the troops sometimes employed ingenious methods of coping with those that would defile the parks, such as expelling offenders from one side, while driving their flocks or casting their weapons out the opposite side. But a more regular form of law enforcement was needed. For this duty civilian rangers, or scouts as they were known in Yellowstone, were hired. These early forest rangers, as they would later be called, displayed their authority in the form of a badge, usually from some local jurisdiction, or in the case of Yellowstone, the park.

Yellowstone Park Scout badge
Yellowstone Park Scout Badge, c.1894-1906. This badge was issued to civilian scouts hired by the military to help protect the park. Scouts were issued German-silver, or plated badges, while chief scouts received sterling silver. NPSHC

The earliest known badge attributed to a national park is that of the "Yellowstone Park Scout." It probably came in after the 1894 Lacey Act, when scouts were hired to enforce the hunting prohibition in the national parks. It was silver, round, two inches in diameter, with YELLOWSTONE PARK SCOUT stamped around the perimeter. The middle was cut out in the shape of a star with a number stamped in the center. It was made by the J. P. Cook Company of Omaha, Nebraska. The chief scout's badge was sterling and cost $1.25. The other scouts wore badges of German silver and were charged 75 cents if they lost them, probably the replacement cost. [1] These badges were worn by rangers at Yellowstone National Park until after the separation of the Services in 1905, and new badges issued in 1906. (The Forest Service was transferred to the Department of Agriculture) Up until this time the men in both Services were considered "Forest Rangers".

It is not known exactly what the badges issued to rangers in the other parks looked like. But from correspondence and photographs we know that they were being worn. There are three extant photographs of rangers in Sequoia National Park wearing two different badges, a round badge over one with a shield configuration. Two of these photographs are circa 1902; the other one, while undatable, shows one of the rangers from the other photographs, Lew Davis, wearing the same clothes. So it can be assumed that it was taken about the same time as the others. The two 1902 photographs are of the same four rangers, taken on the same day. The images are not very clear, but from the reflections on the round badges it can be determined that they are solid, without piercing.

Rangers of Sequoia National Park
Rangers of Sequoia National Park near old Britten store and post office, c.1902.Rangers are wearing the 1898 USDI badge with a "patrol"(?) Badge under it. NPSHPC/SEQU#886

Left to right: Lew Davis, 1901-1909, 1924-1929; Ernest Britten, 1900-1905 (transferred to Forest Service in 1905); Charlie Blossom, 1901-1916; Harry Britten (nephew of Ernest), 1902-1903, 1904-1915.

Continue Continue


Last Modified: Fri, Jan 17 2003 07:08:48 am PDT

National Park Service's ParkNet Home