Yellowstone's First Park Superintendents


While Yellowstone National Park has had many super-intendents in its history, three early superintendents were crucial to the success of the park at the turn of the last century.

Nathaniel P. Langford, First Yellowstone Supertendent

Nathanial Langford in 1905

Nathanial Langford in 1905

The first is important because he was the first: Nathaniel P. Langford, who led an expedition that was credited for the creation of the Yellowstone National Park idea in 1870. Langford was appointed the new park's superintendent for its first five years, from 1872 to 1877. It was an unpaid position that was given to a busy man. Langford in those five years only had time for three trips to the park and one full report.

Philetus W. Norris, Second Yellowstone Superintendent

Philetus Walter Norris in his trapper clothing

Philetus Walter Norris in his trapper clothing

Between 1877 and 1882, Philetus W. Norris stood as superintendent of Yellowstone Park. He earned a reputation as a good man with a modest budget. He was also something of a visionary, opening roads into the park's interior, and envisioning the need for various tourist facilities and accommodations.

Norris explored in the park extensively, and spent much time getting to know the country. He was also good at promotion, writing many reports and articles about the wonders of the park that led to more tourism.

Horris M. Albright, Yellowstone Superintendent 1919-1929

Horace Albright having dinner with the bears in 1922

Horace Albright having dinner with the bears in 1922

Horace M. Albright came onto the scene much later, in 1919. He held the post of superintendent for ten years, until 1929. Albright was the first superintendent under the newly created National Park Service and he was a good one. He broadened the park's education services, expanded its roads to automobiles and oversaw construction of many projects for tourist accommodations including service stations, campgrounds, lodges and much more.

Albright was also able to maintain some of Yellowstone's wilderness character at the same time. Albright later went on to establish Grand Teton National Park and to serve as director of the national park system.


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