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Gallatin History Museum Lecture - Rediscovering Wonderland: How the Great Depression Shaped YNP

Join MOR and the Gallatin History Museum for monthly lectures focused on the dynamic and lively history of the Gallatin Valley. 

Amid economic boom times that produced great wealth inequality, on the cusp of the Great Depression, the future of Yellowstone remained murky. Historically a tourist destination for persons of wealth, the coming of age of the automobile placed Yellowstone within reach of many middle-class families. Even so, the great red doors of Old Faithful Inn remained closed to all except paying lodgers, while the park’s roads were not yet paved. Some powerful voices yet envisioned Yellowstone as a European-like luxury resort; other, newer voices called for the primacy of nature. Even as wolves disappeared, victims of anti-predatory administrative policies and bears begged food from tourists and gorged on human food in park service bear feeding grounds as spectators watched from nearby log benches, a few forward-thinkers cautiously questioned the damage done by unnatural management of wildlife.

At this critical moment in Yellowstone’s history, America was suddenly plunged into the greatest economic downturn in the nation’s history. The volume is the story of how the Yellowstone we know today paradoxically emerged during the catastrophe of the Great Depression. Many of the pillars of 21st-century Yellowstone – including professional ranger naturalists, scientifically-based decision-making, holistic ecosystem management, interpretive museums, visitor accessibility, visitor infrastructure, marketing practices, and modern tourism – trace their beginnings to the unlikeliest of eras in American history.

Dr. Bruce T. Gourley (Ph.D., Auburn University) is the founder and editor of Yellowstone History Journal, the first journal devoted exclusively to the history of Yellowstone National Park, and the author of eight history books. Bruce is also the creator and owner of the Yellowstone.Net website, a part-time instructor at Montana State University, and an award-winning photographer juried by Tom Murphy. Bruce’s books include volumes on the American Civil War, Religion in America, and local history. One of his books, Images of America: Manhattan, Belgrade, Amsterdam, and Churchill, was published in conjunction with the Gallatin Historical Society.

NOTE: All lectures have a limited capacity and are open on a first-come, first-served basis. Doors open 30 minutes prior to each lecture. Attendees may not save seats for others.