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Jane Galloway Demaray: Yellowstone Summers

During Yellowstone National Park’s stagecoach era, from 1878 to 1916, summer tours with the Wylie Camping Company became the equal of all that is good about the balance between frugality and safety, informal relaxation and outdoor adventure, and absorbing interpretation of the Park’s wonders. The Wylie Camping Company’s accommodations were simple: canvas tents clustered around a fire pit where guests gathered to sing songs and enjoy impromptu entertainment.  The entertainment often took the form of storytelling or straightforward commentary about Yellowstone’s natural landscape.  The Wylie Camping Company treated their guests to a bold adventure in the distinctly American destination of Yellowstone—unmatched even in Europe.

William W. “Will” Wylie’s practice of hiring sincere, energetic college students and teachers established a standard for concessions in Yellowstone and other parks around the nation—it encouraged and satisfied guests’ curiosity about the Park’s wonders in an educational, kind, and humorous manner.  A man of strong convictions, Wylie refused to shut down his camping business when it threatened the interests of the Northern Pacific Railway.

During the 1930s—on a train from Bozeman, Montana to Los Angeles—the conductor scrutinized a ticket belonging to Wylie’s niece, Mary.  He inquired if she was related to Will Wylie, for he had worked the Livingston-Gardiner, Montana route for many years—years marked by a friendship with her uncle and a belief that a summer tour through Yellowstone “The Wylie Way” was an unparalleled experience.