Historic Hotels In Yellowstone – Fountain Hotel

Acmegraph Post Card # 6514

In doing research on Yellowstone I came across some interesting facts on hotels that once existed in Yellowstone but are no more.  The best source of information I have found on the history of Yellowstone is from Geyser Bob’s website.  If you are interested in Yellowstone history, give his website a look.  It has a wealth of information and it is with his permission that I use his information.

By 1891 the Yellowstone Park Association (YPA) had three hotels in Yellowstone and they were all 1st class.  There was the National Hotel at Mammoth and the Lake Hotel on the shores of Lake Yellowstone and that year they opened the Fountain Hotel.  Below is a brief history of the Fountain Hotel.

The Fountain Hotel was opened in 1891.  It was located on a small rise close to the Fountain Paint Pots.  The cost was $100,000 and the hotel featured electric lights, steam heat and hot water piped in from one of the nearby hot springs.  The interior walls were calcimined with material gathered from the paint pots.  It had a capacity of 350 guests.

Haynes Post Card No. 115 – “The Fountain Hotel”

It is reported that the first “bear shows” began at the garbage dump in the woods behind the hotel.  Guests would stay two nights at the Fountain Hotel.  They would take a day trip to Old Faithful and return to Fountain for their second night.  However with the introduction of the motorized bus fleet in 1917 the trip from Mammoth or West Yellowstone to Old Faithful could be done in one day.  This eliminated the need for lodging facilities at Fountain.

When the hotel was demolished the cornerstone was opened.  The Helena Independent published an article on July 28, 1928 regarding the items that were found when the time capsule (a cigar box) located inside the cornerstone was opened.  It reported that there were the usual few coins, copies of three newspapers, The Chicago Tribune, The Minneapolis Tribune and the St. Paul Pioneer-Press all dated September 18, 1890.  Reportedly the newspapers had stood the test of time well for 40 years in a cigar box.  There were also two rolls of paper.  One listed the names of all the workmen who had part in building the hotel and the other was a scroll dedicating the structure for housing and entertainment of the guests.  Those had not stood the test of time quite as well and some parts of the writing had been obliterated.  They were reportedly to be mounted on cardboard for preservation.  All the items from the time capsule were given to the Yellowstone park museum for preservation and exhibit for park visitors.

There was a mystery surrounding one of the rooms at the hotel.  It is reported that at 6:00 every cold winter evening a bell would ring in room 203 of the hotel.  The frightened winter caretaker would cautiously go to the room and find it empty.  When he finally could no longer deal with the nightly bell ringing he eventually fled the hotel in the company of a park photographer.

The mystery of room 203 was solved the next spring when the hotel was remodeled. It was discovered that a mouse had built its nest in the wall of room 203.  He had chewed all the insulation off the wire leading to the bell and every time the mouse touched the wire the bell would ring.  Thus the mystery of room 203 was finally solved.

In 1916 the hotel was officially closed and it was torn down in 1927.  Thus ends the story of the Fountain Hotel in Yellowstone.

Thanks to Geyser Bob and his website. His post about Fountain Hotel is available for more information.