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Geyser Basin as early as 1885 (Whittlesey 1988). A conces- sionaire using the spring’s natural agitation to launder clothing apparently induced an eruption by adding soap to the mix, throwing clothing all over the landscape (Bryan 1995). Once tourists learned that soap could induce eruptions, sales of soap skyrocketed and toilet soap from the hotels was in constant short supply. When park Geologist Arnold Hague heard these rumors, he conducted his own experiments using both soap and lye, “which proved so satisfactory that I continued my investi- gations throughout the season on many of the hot springs and geysers in the principal basins.” In a letter dated September 6, 1888, Hague describes how this practice benefited park pho- tographer F. Jay Haynes by producing eruptions at times with the best lighting, clouds, and wind rather than at the whim of the geysers’ schedule. However, Hague was unsuccessful in his attempt to induce Giant Geyser to erupt:

  • In the “Giant” geyse , which, at the time of my experi-

ments, had not played for several months, I was able to cause most violent agitation and the throwing out of wate , but nothing that could be called a genuine eruption. People familiar with the behavior of the “Giant” before an erup- tion, but ignorant of what I had done, believed the geyser was ready to resume its former activity.

Throwing other objects into geysers and hot springs has been a problem since Yellowstone’s early days and has been a major cause of irreversible damage that continues to threaten to the park’s thermal features today. Frank Carpenter, who vis- ited the park from Radersburg, Montana, in 1877, described what happened after his party dropped their clothing into Old Faithful:

NPS, YNP, Yell 36820

ole Anderson’s coating racks on the Mammoth terraces provided visitors with souvenirs encrusted in travertine, photo ca. 1895.

  • the next instant, with a rush and a roar she “goes off”

and the clothes, jackets, rags, etc., mixed in every conceivable shape, shoot up to a distance of a hundred feet or more and fall with a splash in the basins below. The water subsides and we fish out the clothing which we find nice and clean as a Chinaman could wash it with a weeks’ scrubbing.

The party then gathered up nearby items and continued their experiment:

  • we collect an immense quantity of rubbish and drop it

into the crater.

e have filled it to the top with at least

a thousand pounds of stones, trees, stumps, etc.... the earth begins to tremble…and away go rocks, trees and rubbish to

a height of seventy-five or eighty feet in the air.

These types of activities are now known to cause tremen- dous and often irreversible damage to geyser systems. Objects introduced into thermal features disrupt circulation and pres- sure within the system and can result in permanent alteration or cessation of the feature’s natural activity.

After the Army was given responsibility for protecting park resources in 1886, thermal features continued to be van- dalized. O’Brien (1999) comments that the focus was more on accommodating visitors than on protecting park resources during this time. The creation of the NPS in 1916 by the NPS Organic Act enunciated the primary goals of park manage- ment, whose mission was “to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wildlife therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” This mission was to be accomplished by staffing the parks with personnel who would participate in all aspects of park management. However, correspondence by Yellowstone personnel during the 1940s and 1950s indicates the severity of the ongoing problem and the methods used to reduce vandalism and reverse its effects. Park Geologist George Marler (1946) stated:

  • o name all the thermal features where vandalism is in

evidence would be a cataloguing of most of the pools, springs and geysers in the Uppe , Midway and Lower Basins. Just as a slowly advancing delta destroys the lake, just as certainly continually man-added debris will destroy the pools, springs and geysers of ellowstone….

  • granting he comprises but one percent or less of the travel-

ing public, still this army of thousands is spreading a pes- tilence which if unchecked will produce a vastly different ellowstone a few generations hence….

Geothermal features suffered heavily from vandalism dur- ing the summer of 1946, when the end of the war brought

17(1) • 2009

ellowstone Science


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