Memorial Day in Yellowstone National Park


Bozeman, Montana
Many of us will be visiting YNP this weekend to participate In the annual opening of the angling season. Most will be trying their hand on the Firehole, Gibbon or Madison rivers in the northwest corner of the park. The Memorial Day weekend opener goes back a long way, and has become a tradition for many anglers, both Montana residents and visitors from other states. This piece gives a good account of my typical Memorial Day experiences in the park.

Memorial Day on the Firehole

But it is still a time to remember those 20+ U.S. Army soldiers who perished serving their country and protecting Yellowstone well over a century ago. I can’t name them all, but here are a few:

Sgt James P. Pruitt, kicked by a horse, 1891
Private Andrew Preiber, froze to death while on winter patrol, 1893
Private Ellis Lindgard, horse accident, 1893
Private David J. Matthews, froze to death while on winter patrol, 1894
Lt. Lunsford Daniel, horse accident, 1894
Private John W. H. Davis, froze to death while on winter patrol, 1897
Private Harry E. Donaldson, drowned, 1898
Private Richard R. Hurley, froze to death while on winter patrol, 1904
Private Harry E. Allen, drowned, 1906
Private Presley H. Vance, froze to death while on winter patrol, 1908
Private Frank F. Monaghan, drowned, 1910
Private Frank Cunningham, shot, 1912
Lt. Joseph McDonald, avalanche, 1916
Sgt Arthur S. Brewer, drowned, 1918
Private Victor Mannerfield, drowned, 1918

None of the remains of Army servicemen who perished in Yellowstone are interned there. Originally, many were buried in the military cemetery just south of Mammoth but all those remains were moved to the Custer National Battlefield.

The U.S. Army should always be remembered for the remarkable job it did protecting Yellowstone in its early days. A great read if you can find it is: How the U.S. Cavalry Saved Our National Parks (1971) H. Duane Hampton. In doing so, men perished in the line of duty. Remember them on this Memorial Day as you ply the waters of your favorite YNP river.
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Bozeman, Montana
My Memorial Day visit to YNP went off without a hitch although the ghosts of anglers past and the veterans who served in YNP haunted me from across the river at dawn. 29 degrees when I started so I fought ice in the guides for about an hour. After 5 hours pounding to banks of Biscuit Basin Meadow in utter solitude another angler showed up and my day was done. Enough fish to keep me busy for two passes through the meadow. Almost 70 degrees when I left the river. Another Memorial Day in the books. Thanks to all our veterans and especially those who gave their lives for this great country.


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