Wednesday, May 24, 2006
-- Memorial day is the traditional 'opening' of the summer season in Yellowstone National Park. For Yellowstone it is a significant event. The war years saw park attendance drop, funds disappear, and staff leave for the war effort.
-- Even before the entrance into WWII by the United States of America, Yellowstone was affected. WPA projects are still visible in some rock works, CCC work is still a factor in some trails and other features.
-- After the war, America took to travel and Yellowstone was a destination on many lists of things to do. Our population sought to rediscover the nation in a spirit of nationalism that has not been seen since. Automobile sales exploded. The railroads took Yellowstone off their prime-destination list. Visitation by automobile travelers in the post war era shaped the park and it's plan. It is with us even today.
-- One product of the post war era is 'the baby boom.' Boomers are the single largest group of visitors to Yellowstone today. They have differnt modes of transportation: the motor-home, (with automobile in tow,) is a significant element in park visitation. As these visitors arrive they should pause and reflect on the changes wrought on Yellowstone by WWII. Ask a park ranger to point out the remaining "old" construction from this period.
-- The park roads will be crowded, the lines will be long, the buffalo jams will be horrific, and travel will be slow. Don't worry, these can be times for contemplation & reflection. And, remember that many died to preserve our freedom to visit Yellowstone National Park.
Memorial Day Site
National Park Service
Tomb of Unknown Soldier photo by Terry Buckwalter, © 1993 Smithsonian Institution.