Yellowstone’s First Superintendents

I believe we all know that Yellowstone National Park has a superintendent who is in charge of maintaining the business of the park.   The superintendent resides at Mammoth Hot Springs.

There have been many superintendents in the park so I thought I would give you some information about the first three gentlemen who occupied that position.

The first was Nathaniel P. Langford.  He led an expedition that was credited for the actual creation of the National Park idea in 1870.  He was appointed superintendent for five years, from 1872 to 1877. This was an unpaid position.  He was reportedly an extremely busy gentleman and It is reported that in those five years he only had time for three trips to the park and time to submit only one full report.

Next came Philetus W. Norris who served between 1877 and 1882.  He was considered something of a visionary where our first national park was concerned.  He opened the park’s interior roads and was well aware the need would soon arise for various tourist facilities and accommodations.   He earned a reputation as a good man and operated with a modest budget.  Mr. Norris explored the park extensively and spent much of his time getting to know the country.  Being good at promotion he wrote many reports and articles about the wonders of the park.  This led to increased tourism in the park.

I could find no record of who the superintendent was from 1882 until 1919 when the third gentlemen to occupy the position, Horace M. Albright arrived on the  scene.  Mr. Albright held the position for 10 years until 1929.  He was actually the first superintendent under the newly created National Park Service and he was a good one.  He expanded the roads to automobiles, broadened the park’s education services and oversaw the construction of many projects which enhanced the park experience for tourists.  Some of these included service stations, campgrounds, lodges and much more.  Evidently Mr. Albright had a keen interest in making the park more accessible, available and enjoyable for the American public.

He was also able to maintain some of the wilderness character of Yellowstone.  He later went on to establish Grand Teton National Park and also served as director of the national park system.  The visitors center at Mammoth Hot Springs is named after Mr. Albright.

I will not take this history lesson any further but I do find it interesting to learn about some of the early officials who were instrumental in our National Park being what it is today.