HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
THE YELLOWSTONE PARK.
FEBRUARY 27, 1872.--Laid
on the table and ordered to be printed.
Mr. Dunnell, from the Committee on the
Public Lands, made the
[To accompany bill H. R. 764.]
The Committee on the Public Lands,
having had under consideration bill
H. R. 764, would report as follows:
The bill now before Congress has
for its object the withdrawal from settlement, occupancy, or sale, under
the laws of the United States, a tract of land fifty-five by sixty-five
miles, about the sources of the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers; and dedicates
and sets it apart as a great national park or pleasure-ground for the benefit
and enjoyment of the people. The entire area comprised within the
limits of the reservation contemplated in this bill is not susceptible
of cultivation with any degree of certainty, and the winters would be too
severe for stock-raising. Whenever the altitude of the mountain districts
exceeds 6,000 feet above tide-water, their settlement becomes problematical
unless there are valuable mines to attract people. The entire area
within the limits of the proposed reservation is over 6,000 feet in altitude,
and the Yellowstone Lake, which occupies an area 15 by 22 miles, or 330
square miles, is 7,427 feet. The ranges of mountains that hem the
valleys in on every side rise to the height of 10,000 and 12,000 feet,
and are covered with snow all the year. These mountains are all of
volcanic origin, and it is not probable that any mines or minerals of value
will ever be found there. During the months of June, July, and August,
the climate is pure and most invigorating, with scarcely and rain or storms
of any kind; but the thermometer frequently sinks as low as 26 degrees.
There is frost every month of the year. This whole region was in
comparatively modern geological times the scene of the most wonderful volcanic
activity of any portion of our country. The hot springs and the geysers
represent the last stages--the vents or escape pipes--of these remarkable
volcanic manifestations of the internal forces. All these springs
are adorned with decorations more beautiful than human art ever conceived,
and which have required thousands of years for the cunning hand of nature
to form. Persons are now waiting for the spring to open to enter
in and take possession of these remarkable curiosities, to make merchandise
of these beautiful specimens, to fence in these rare wonders so as to charge
visitors a fee, as is now done at Niagara Falls, for the sight of that
which ought to be as free as the air or water.
In a few years this region
will be a place of resort for all classes of people from all portions of
the world. The geysers of Iceland, which have been objects of interest
for the scientific men and travelers of the entire world, sink into insignificance
in comparison with the hot springs of the Yellowstone and Fire-Hole Basins.
As a place of resort for invalids it will not be excelled by any portion
of the world. If this bill fails to become a law this session, the
vandals who are now waiting to enter into this wonderland will, in a single
season despoil, beyond recovery, these remarkable curiosities which have
required all the cunning skill of nature thousands of years to prepare.
We have already shown that
no portion of this tract can ever be made available for agricultural or
mining purposes. Even if the altitude and the climate would permit
the country to be made available, not over fifty square miles of the entire
area could ever be settled. The valleys are all narrow, hemmed in
by high volcanic mountains like gigantic walls.
The withdrawal of this tract,
therefore, from sale or settlement takes nothing from the value of the
public domain, and is no pecuniary loss to the Government, but will be
regarded by the entire civilized world as a step of progress and an honor
to Congress and the nation.
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
Washington, D. C., January 29, 1872
SIR: I have
the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of the 27th
instant, relative to the bill now pending in the House of Representatives
dedicating that tract of country known as the Yellowstone Valley as a national
I hand you herewith
the report of Dr. F. V. Hayden, United States geologist, relative to said
proposed reservation, and have only to add that I fully concur in his recommendations,
and trust that the bill referred to may speedily become a law.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Hon. M. H. DUNNELL,
House of Representatives.
committee therefore recommend the passage of the bill without amendment.
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