As you may have heard, the National Park Service is celebrating its centennial this year, 2016. But that leads us to ask: If Yellowstone, the world’s first national park, created in 1872, is turning 144 this year, how was it managed before the National Park Service?
Turns out, the army protected the wonders of Yellowstone and the wildlife therein starting in 1886. In the beginning, the army’s main concern was stopping poaching, especially of the quickly declining population of American bison.
However, as visitation brought by railroad (1883) and automobile (1915) steadily increased through the turn of the century, the government began to realize that the army was not the best equipped to meet tourists’ needs.
Visitors to Yellowstone needed somewhere to turn to ask for directions, to be provided with services such as food and lodging, and most especially, to learn about the beautiful parks they were visiting. So along came the National Park Service in 1916 to create the national park experience we are familiar with today!