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In Search of an Identity




Appendix A

Appendix B

Appendix C

National Park Service Uniforms
In Search of an Identity 1872-1920
Number 2

In Search of an Identity

Harry Yount
Harry S. Yount, c. 1873.
Here is another photograph of Yount, probably taken around the same time as the previous Holmes image since he is wearing the same clothing. Yount is shown wearing skin clothing, but rangers more than likely wore a combination of regular military and civilian attire. Although traditionally thought of as the first park ranger, others were employed prior to him to assist the superintendent. NPSHPC - HFC/91-0023

Until the establishment of Yellowstone National Park in 1872 and even afterward, local inhabitants and visitors to the area treated the land as their own. Game was hunted, timber was cut, and nodules that had taken thousands of years to form were chipped from the geysers for souvenirs. It did not take long for Yellowstone's superintendents to realize that if they were to accomplish their assigned goal of protecting and preserving the park's natural features for posterity, they would need more help.

In 1880 Superintendent Philetus W. Norris hired Harry S. Yount as a year-round "game keeper." [1] Although Yount has traditionally been considered the first park ranger, others had previously been hired to assist the superintendent. He was paid the munificent sum of $1,000 a year, not bad considering that the total budget for the park was only $15,000. Even so, Yount worked for only one year, complaining that the park was too large for one man to patrol.

Yount was typical of many of the men roaming the West during this period. After Civil War service in the Union Army he went out to the Wyoming Territory, working as a bullwhacker, hunter, trapper, and for seven summers as a guide for the Hayden Geological Survey. [2] A photographic portrait taken in 1873 by William H. Holmes shows him in a regulation 1858 U.S. Army mounted overcoat, a skin (probably buckskin) jacket with a fur collar, a civilian shirt, and a wide-brimmed hat with the front pinned back in a rakish manner. There are three other images of Yount in the National Park Service photo collection. Unfortunately, none of them were taken around the time of his association with the park. One shows him standing, leaning on a Sharps buffalo rifle, wearing the same clothes sans overcoat. He has hide trousers and knee boots. This was probably also taken by Holmes. In another image taken by William Henry Jackson during the 1874 Hayden Expedition, he is shown at Berthoud Pass, Colorado. In the third image he does not have a beard and appears to be somewhat heavier. He is also wearing what appears to be buckskin clothing with fringes, along with the usual panoply of weapons. This photograph is harder to date but was probably not taken while Yount was employed by the park, being titled "Harry Yount, Hunter."

It is not known whether Yount was issued a badge for his Yellowstone service or if he displayed any other symbol of authority. More than likely he just adhered to the old western adage of "might makes right."

Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar
Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar, Secretary of Interior, 1885-1888.
Secretary Lamar invoked the Congressional Act that brought the military into Yellowstone National Park on 18 August, 1886. LC - BH826-28955

Uniforms first made their regular appearance in the national parks on August 18, 1886, when Troop M of the 1st U.S. Cavalry trotted into Yellowstone. The presence of the troops resulted from an act of Congress approved March 3, 1883, which stated, "The Secretary of War, upon the request of the Secretary of the Interior, is hereby authorized and directed, to make the necessary details of troops to prevent trespassers or intruders from entering the park for the purpose of destroying the game or objects of curiosity therein, or for any other purpose prohibited by law, and to remove such persons from the park if found therein." On August 6, 1886, Secretary of the Interior Lucius Q. C. Lamar, deeming that Yellowstone could not be adequately protected by the civilian administration, requested troops from the War Department. The request was approved on August 10 and troops from Fort C.F. Smith were ordered to Yellowstone. [3] Other cavalry units were detailed to Sequoia, General Grant, and Yosemite in California after those national parks were established in 1890.

Initially the cavalry units patrolled Yellowstone and the California parks only during the summer months, but later their presence was extended. Soldiers in campaign hats, boots, and olive drab uniforms were a familiar sight to park visitors until 1919, three years after the act creating the National Park Service.

Yellowstone Park Scout Badge
Yellowstone Park Scout Badge, c. 1894-1906.
Issued to civilian scouts hired by the military to help protect Yellowstone National Park. Scouts were issued nickel-silver, while those of the chief scouts were sterling silver. NPSHC

After the Lacey Act of 1894 prohibited hunting in Yellowstone, civilian police, called scouts, were employed for wildlife protection. This term was no doubt used because the Army had hired civilian scouts for other purposes. Scouts were also required to stop the grazing of livestock, mainly sheep, by local ranchers on park grounds. Since these scouts, or rangers, were more or less dependent on the Army quartermasters for their supplies, their dress was a combination of military and civilian clothing. They were also issued a badge of authority. For Yellowstone National Park, this consisted of a two-inch circle with "YELLOWSTONE PARK SCOUT" stamped in it. The middle of the circle was cut out to form a star with the badge number in the center. The badge was similar to many of those issued to lawmen of the period.

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