A Brief History of Yellowstone National Park | National Geographic
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A Brief History of Yellowstone National Park | National Geographic

August 12, 2019


(light music) – [Marielena] Yellowstone is epic, strange, and iconic. It is well-deserving of
its protected status. But how did it come to be the worlds first National Park? (light music) Archeologists have found evidence of human activity in Yellowstone that dates back at least 11,000 years. Oral histories of Salish Native Americans suggest their ancestors were here 3,000 years ago. Today there are still 26
Native American tribes that are connected to this land. Some of the first
European visitors included fur traders and trackers
in the late 1700s. But the first big incentive for settlers came in 1863, gold. (water sloshing) Prospectors flocked to Yellowstone in hopes of finding more. The Northern Pacific
Railroad Company heard of the wonders of Yellowstone. A big attraction like this
could help their plans to expand their railroad west. So they sponsored the
Washburn-Langford-Doane Expedition of 1870. As the first formal
expedition of Yellowstone, they explored vast regions of the park. Including Tower Fall, Yellowstone Lake, and the geyser basins. Their most memorable achievement, naming Old Faithful. (light music) Painter Thomas Moran as
well as a photographer and sketch artist were also on the expedition team. Their work introduced
Yellowstone to the world. And captured the imagination of Congress. Then, on March 1st, 1872, President Ulysses S. Grant signed an act establishing Yellowstone National Park. The country’s very first National Park. (light music) The Park is around two million acres. An expansive wilderness with places that even today few have seen. Filled with wildlife including 285 species of birds. And over 65 species of mammals. (wolf howling) But what’s on top of this park is nothing compared to the giant reserve of magma that lies below. Thermal power is what
makes Yellowstone tick. Old Faithful remains true to its name. And to this day gushes
up thousands of gallons of hot water every hour or so. (light music) It’s one of the most famous natural features in Yellowstone. But, it’s not the only one. There are over 10,000 thermal features in Yellowstone. Including hot springs, mud pots, and steam vents. They sit in one giant
caldera of a super volcano. Some 45 miles across at its widest. 2.1 million years ago Yellowstone erupted and covered over 5,000
square miles with ash. About 6,000 times the volume of material ejected from Mount St. Helens in 1980. It’s among the largest volcano eruptions known to man. Yellowstone is still active and another eruption is possible. But it probably won’t
happen in the next thousand or even 10,000 years. In the meantime, Yellowstone hosts millions
of guests every year. There are now 59 National Parks in the United States. But Yellowstone will always be the world’s first.

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