Camping in  the Yellowstone 

The Smaller Camping Companies

E.V. Blankenship, Alfred Lycan, Marshall Bros., A.W. Chadbourne

Copyright 2020 by Robert V. Goss. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or utilized in any form by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by an information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing from the author.

Introduction

 

During the early years of Yellowstone’s status as the first national park the administration was conducted by civilian appointees. From the park’s inception in 1872 until 1886 supervision and governance varied between almost none at all to the fairly effective administration of Philetus Norris. Overall though, performance was ineffective and the US Army was brought into the park in 1886 to set things right. Day-to-day activities were supervised by a Cavalry Acting Superintendent with major decisions being referred to the Dept. of Interior. Camping activities in the park were mostly unregulated until the 1890s. The “Army Files” in the Yellowstone NP Archives show correspondence and a permitting system regulating commercial camping parties beginning at least by 1895. Around that time permits were issued (or denied) for “Personally Conducted” camping expeditions, i.e. the permit-holder had to physically be in charge of the camping party through the park.

 

The Army Files indicate that at least 85 individuals applied for camping permits between 1895-1913. And certainly many more operated without the benefit of being officially sanctioned.  Some of these permitted persons only conducted trips for one or two seasons. Others, such as Alfed Lycan of Bozeman, the Marshall Bros. of Livingston MT, E.V. Blankenship, the Scott brothers of Gardiner, the Roseborough brothers, and George Wakefield operated for a multitude of years. The camping outfits discussed in my previous web pages generally fell under a different tracking system. In this chapter I will be summarizing the operations of Alfred Lycan, the Marshall Bros., E.V. Blankenship, and A.W. Chadbourne.

Blankenship & Company

Edwin V Blankenship (more commonly E.V. Blankenship) operated a moveable camps company in Yellowstone that was based out of Bozeman MT. Records indicate he was in business for at least the years 1896 to 1912. It was originally known as Blankenship & Morgan, but by 1898 became E.V. Blankenship Co. An undated brochure from the company proclaimed: “A Pleasant Sojourn Through Wonderland – Ten Days Camping in the Greatest and Grandest Pleasure Resort in the World.” The brochure explained that a ten-day trip from Cinnabar cost $30 and two weeks on the road from Bozeman was $35. Three-seated covered spring wagons were used with “careful experienced drivers.” The company claimed to have the best cooks obtainable to “satisfy the great appetite that people acquire after a few days’ travel in the Rocky Mountains.” Food was an important part of the camping experience and advertisements for most of the various camping companies generally played up that aspect of the sojourn.

Blankenship & Morgan Camping Co.

Among the earliest ads for Blankenship.

[May 1896, College Exponent, Bozeman College]

Ad for Blankenship & Morgan camping company in Yellowstone

The company petitioned to be able to leave equipment and supplies at designated campsites in 1909, with the idea of creating permanent sites, but the request was denied. Later requests to built log cabins at their sites were also denied. The Interior was opposed to expanding the permanent camp system any more than necessary. William W. Wylie had obtained the valuable concession for semi-permanent camps in 1893, which by 1898 had become permanent, but it was a risky year-by-year business with no guaranteed permits for future years. By 1912 though, Shaw & Powell and Tex Holm were able to establish some permanent camps in the park and after that time Blankenship seems to have vanished from the Yellowstone scene.

Ad for E.V Blankenship Transportation & Camping Co.

E.V. Blankenship, Yellowstone Park Transportation

There were six 10-day camp trips scheduled for the summer of 1898.  Click to enlarge.

[June 1898, College Exponent, Bozeman College]

Excerpts

Yellowstone National Park - A Pleasant Sojourn Through Wonderland

Ten Days Camping in the Greatest

and Grandest Pleasure Resort in the World.

 

“A camping trip, especially through the Park, has something about it that is really enticing; it has been so to those who have ever had an opportunity of experiencing the novelty and pleasure of it. After a few days out camping, tourists, who were formerly strangers, form a friendship that is lasting and true, while tourists who go through otherwise, pass through the same routine that they would in city life, without pleasure and without the novelty of camping.

1899 ad for E.V. Blankenship

“We kindly invite the people, from far and near, to join one of our camping parties through this wonderland. Those who have gone through with the former Blankenship & Morgan, have all expressed their entire satisfaction with our camping plan and the general hospitality shown them throughout. It was our purpose to please the tourists, and as the successors of the company, we pledge our faith and honor that it shall continue to be so.”

 

Blankenship & Co. National Park Camping Excursions

Care of: E.V. Blankenship, Lock Box 809 Bozeman, Mont.

The Alfred Lycan Camping Company

       

Alfred Lycan, a resident of Bozeman, Montana, operated his camping company in Yellowstone from at least 1895 to 1913. His personally conducted tours, organized in Bozeman or Gardiner, utilized portable camps that departed from Cinnabar until 1902 and Gardiner from 1903-1914, on a regular basis throughout the summer. Tours were generally 1 to 1-1/2 weeks in length. In 1913 the Butte Miner announced that the Lycan Camping Co. had been sold to H.P. Grant and F.L Dissly, both students of the Bozeman Agricultural College (MSU). They continued to operate through the 1913 and 1914 seasons, but still under the Lycan name. Information for 1915 season has not been located.

 

Several ads in the June 1908 editions of the Anaconda Standard quote some general details:

“Yellowstone National Park trip covers one week's tour of park. We will furnish wall tents, carpets, wire sprlngs (keeping bed from ground), full bedding outfit, including mattress. Best available cooks. Camp at prominent points. We show our tourists through park. Address at Bozeman, Mont., (before July 1; after that, Gardiner, Mont.)  The Lycan Camping Co.”

Alfred Lycan Camping Co.

Alfred Lycan, Bozeman Montana

[May 1896, College Exponent, Bozeman College]

Click to expand.

Alfred Lycan Bio

Various federal census records indicate that Lycan was born Jan. 24, 1841 in Edgar County, Illinois. He served in the Civil War as a Union Corporal in the 79th Regiment, Illinois Infantry, Co. C, serving from July 19, 1862 to June 12, 1865. One tourist account, if true, places Lycan in Montana by at least 1883. Voter registration records compiled by the Bozeman Pioneer Museum show him as a registered voter by 1889 and he appears in the Bozeman census of 1900 as a single man 59 years of age with an occupation as Teamster (federal census records for 1890 are generally unavailable). In 1920 he materialized as a resident of Colorado Springs, Colorado and two years later US Veterans Admin records described Lycan as an “Army Invalid” and indicated that he passed away on April 1, 1922, at about age 81. He was buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Colorado Springs.

Numerous articles in the anaconda Standard newspaper from 1895 indicate Lycan was regularly taking camping tours into Yellowstone Park:

Wheel era In the Park.

Butte, July 18.—A party composed of cyclists will be here on Monday morning next on their bicycles to enjoy a two-weeks’ tour of Yellowstone National park. They will wheel from here to Bozeman where they will join one of Mr. Lycan's camping parties, with whom they will board, but they expect to make the entire distance on the government roads and their wheels will enable them to take many side trips.

The Anaconda Standard,19Jul1895, p5

 

Miss M.P. Rahilly, who is with Miss Brady, the milliner, Mrs. F. E. Marshall. art instructor at the Agricultural college, and Rev. M. L. Streator left for the park on Monday morning, going with A. Lycan. Mr. Lycan had a party of 22, 16 of these being teachers returning from the Denver convention.

Anaconda Standard, 20Jul1895

Alfred Lycan Camping Co.

May 1896 ad for the Lycan Co. in the College Exponent, a student newspaper from the Bozeman College. (Click to expand)

Trip Account from 1899

In August 5, 1899 the article below appeared in the Logansport Reporter (Indiana) from an apparently satisfied tour customer who gave some excellent details regarding the Lycan Camping experience. If the narrator is correct in saying that Lycan had made trips to the park for 17 years, it would date his tours to beginning in 1883 with the arrival of the Northern Pacific RR to Cinnabar, Mt, a few miles north of Gardiner.

“The Park Outfit:

Mr. Alfred Lycan, who lives in Bozeman, is the proprietor of a park outfit. He has made trips to the park for the past seventeen years and is considered the most careful man traveling through the park. His outfit consists of five passenger wagons, strongly built and each and each having four seats very comfortable on the long trip, two freight wagons, one carrying tents and bedding and the other carrying camp stools and feed for the horses, and the cooks’ wagon, containing the provisions, tables and stores. He left July 18th on his first trip this season to the park, with a party of sixteen, and were reinforced at Cinnabar [NPRR depot] by thirteen, making a pleasing party.   Everything for the comfort of the party was done. Roomy tents were pitched each night and comfortable beds were placed inside, with covering sufficient for the cold nights. Each tent and bed are numbered and belong to the same person throughout the trip. Mr. Lycan has a competent cook in the person of Mr. Adolph Schmalhausen, of Illinois. This young man has spent three summers in the park with Mr. Lycan and has acquired great skill as a cook, setting before the party as dainty and appetizing morsels as could be given in any hotel. The guide, Mr. B.S. Thresher, of Butte, has made the trips for five summers and is thoroughly acquainted with all points of interest in the park. He is a genial gentleman who becomes a favorite to the party in a short time. For a party going through the park wishing to see it thoroughly and enjoy an outing, a trip in this outfit is advisable, as Mr. Lycan gives the longest trip of any of the park companies. After the first trip he meets his parties at Cinnabar, giving a ten days’ trip through the park for a comparatively small sum, and insuring comfort and courtesy to all.”

Alfred Lycan Camping Co.

Another account from 1899 noted that 54 tourists accompanied Lycan around Yellowstone and described some of the sights and accommodations. The woman depicted the guests sitting around for meals

“at a long table for fifty-four with boards laid on carpenter’s horses. The crowd had appetites – ready to eat beans, bacon, biscuits, cornbread, syrup, cookies, etc. The biscuits were sometimes a little tough. We called them “sinkers,” hoping the cooks were hard of hearing.”

Several ads in the June 1908 editions of the Anaconda Standard quote some general details:

Yellowstone National Park trip covers one week's tour of park. We will furnish wall tents, carpets, wire sprlngs (keeping bed from ground), full bedding outfit, including mattress. Best available cooks. Camp at prominent points. We show our tourists through park. Address at Bozeman, Mont., (before July 1; after that, Gardiner, Mont.)  The Lycan Camping Co.”

Alfred Lycan Camping Co. ad

Left:  Anaconda Standard ad, 22Aug1900.

Right:  Ad from the Helena Independent Record,  22Jul1914.  F.L Dissly was listed as the contact person for the Lycan Co. This seem to be the last year of their operation in the park

Edward Frank Allen's Guide to the National Parks of America, 1915, quoted the following rates of H.P. Grant, Floyd Brogan and Alfred Lycan, although they may have been using information from 1914: 

"Regular 7-day trip, price for each member of party, including transportation and board and lodging in camp $30.00. Additional per day for stop-overs at points of interest, for each member of party $2.50. Twenty-one day trip from Gardiner and return by coach, including board, lodging, and transportation, price for each member of party $90.00"

Alfred Lycan Camping Co. ad

Marshall Bros. Camping Company

Silas “Si” Marshall was born in Iowa in 1860 and came to Montana by wagon train when he was a young man. He and his brother George E. operated a large cattle ranch near Melville before moving to Livingston in 1882. The men purchased a livery stable in Livingston in 1884 and operated transportation and livery services in the area. They sold the livery business in 1900. The Daily Intermountain in Butte, announced that:

“Marshall Brothers disposed of their livery stable today to J. C. Bishop of this city, who will turn the business over to his son-in-law, Frank M. Cain. The price paid for livery stable was $2,100. A portion of the livery outfit to the value of $500 was also included in the deal. Frank Cain is well known here. He has considerable experience in the livery business and will no doubt do well. The Marshall Brothers will go to Cinnabar shortly and will take camping parties through the park during the summer.”

Marshall Bros. Livery Livingston Mt

Marshall's Livery in Livingston, Mt

[Livingston Enterprise, 26Dec1891]

Marshall's Camping Parties, Yellowstone Park

According to records in the Yellowstone Historic Center, Silas & George Marshall formed the Marshall Brothers Camping Company by at least 1897 and operated through the 1908 season, possibly longer, escorting tourist parties on camping trips through the park. There are a number of newspaper references to folks being with a Marshing camping party, but no indication was made as to location. They conducted tours of 6 or 7 days and a 10 day trip that included travel to Mt. Washburn. Costs ranged between $30 and $45. Guests were transported in covered coaches that would accommodate 5 or 11 passengers. A toilet tent was made available for private functions.

Postcard advertising the Marshall's Camping Parties, postmarked 1909. Click Here to view the reverse side of postcard featuring Lone Star Geyser

From the Daily Intermountain, Butte Mt., 19May1900:

“Marshall Brothers disposed of their livery stable today to J. C. Bishop of this city, who will turn the business over to his son-in-law, Frank M. Cain. The price paid for livery stable was $2,100. A portion of the livery outfit to the value of $500 was also included in the deal. Frank Cain is well known here. He has
considerable experience in the livery business and will no doubt do well. The Marshall Brothers will go to Cinnabar shortly and will take camping parties through the park during the summer.”

A Marshall Brother's Camp in Yellowstone.

[Livingston Enterprise Souvenir, 1Jan1900]

Marshall's camping party in Yellowstone
Marshall Bros. Camping, Yellowstone Park

Ad card for the Marshall Bros. Camping Transportation Co., post 1903.

"Our Wagons are canopy top for five and eleven passengers. Good cooks and dining room tents. Sleeping tents, all sizes, with canvas carpets, to accommodate two or more people.  Beds are comforts, cotton and wool blankets: mattresses on canvas or double cots."

After retirement from the camping business Si worked numerous different jobs, including that as manager of the commissary at Mammoth. He seems to have remained a bachelor until 1920, when at age 59 he married Katherine I. Rittle, age 46. Silas became a justice of the peace in Livingston in 1941 and served in that position until his death on Jan. 2, 1944 at about age 83. He was interred in the Mountain View Cemetery in Livingston.

 

George Marshall was born Oct. 13, 1868 in Illinois and married Mabel S. Stephens (born Dec. 11, 1874) in 1899. George passed away July 7, 1922 at about age 54 and was interred in Mountain View Cemetery in Livingston. By 1930 Mabel was listed in the census as a “Widow” and was living at Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone with the George Whittaker family. Mabel died in January, 1935 at about age 61 and was buried next to her husband.

Marshall's Camps letterhed, Yellowstone National Park

Letterhead from Marshall Camps in Yellowstone. 1910

[Livingston Enterprise Souvenir, 1Jan1900]

A.W. Chadbourne

 

Allen Wright Chadbourne, more commonly known as A.W. Chadbourne (sometimes spelled Chadbourn), was born in Ohio in 1843 and later drove cattle on the Chisholm Trail from the Rio Grande to the Midwest, was a buffalo hunter out of Ft. Wallace, Kansas for a time and operated freight outfits along the frontier. He married Dolly Jane Masoner in 1879 and came to Montana around 1880-81. In 1882 they purchased a ranch in the area that would soon become the town of Cinnabar and the end of the Northern Pacific RR spur line from their main line at Livingston.

 

According to “The History of Park County (Whithorn, et.al.),”  Chadbourne started a company known as the “Yellowstone Park Transportation & Camping Outfit” around that time, and began hauling tourists into the park from the NP railhead at Cinnabar in 1884. He was among the earliest camping concerns to operate out of the northern entrance of Yellowstone. William W. Wylie had preceded him by one year. Chadbourne also ran saddle and pack outfits in the park until 1901.

A.W Chadbourne, in his 90s

[30Jun1938 Fairfield Times, Mt.]

Allen Wright Chadbourne, A.W. Chadbourne
A.W. Chadbourne Ranch Cinnabar
Chadbourne Camp in Yellowstone

From the Jan 1, 1900 Edition of the Livingston Enterprise Souvenir.

 

Yellowstone National Park Transportation.

    Just two miles below the entrance to the Park and one-half mile above Cinnabar is located the ranch of A.W. Chadbourn. Owing to its location on the Park pike road, nearness to the terminal depot for Park tourists, and better still to its home supply of fresh meats, vegetables, butter, eggs and milk, it has become a favorite rendezvous for pleasure seeker's in Wonderland. Tourists, seeking an outing by the old “out-of-doors” camping style, here find first-class accommodations with complete camping outfits. Conveyance can be furnished in any kind of vehicle from the finest Concords and Surreys down to the good old farm wagon.

    Tents, camp chairs, tables, dishes, beds, etc., are always in readiness, and choice vehicles with polite drivers are always in waiting at each incoming train. No embarrassments are ever encountered by stale victuals, as an abundance of freshranch supplies are always at their command. Aside from the above mode of taking pleasure trips there are some hundred head of well broken saddle and pack horses by which hunting or scientific parties find safe and pleasant conveyance.

    As Mr. and Mrs. Chadbourn have been residents of this country for eighteen years, and have looked to needs of tourists ever since the opening of the Park, there is no doubt but what pleasure seekers will enjoy the many  sights in store for them. A homelike air prevails at every camp as well as the desire that all should share equally in the comforts afforded.

    That the public at large have appreciated the hospitality and accommodations of Mr. and Mrs. Chadbourn is shown by the increasing numbers of their guests, for in past years this, their own original mode of camping in Wonderland, has called forth a patronage from the millionaire down to the laborer, sharing equal pleasures around the camp fire.

Top Left:  Chadbourne Ranch, near Cinnabar, Mt., along the road to Yellowstone.  [1Jan1900 Livingston Enterprise Souvenir]

Bottom Left:  Chadbourne campsite in Yellowstone.  [YNP Archive #18844]

With the formation of the Yellowstone National Park Transportation Co. in 1892 by Silas Huntley, Harry Child, Edmund Bach and others, Chadbourne and many of the other small, private transportation operators lost some of their transportation rights the following season. The new transportation company had been granted exclusive rights to transport NPRR passengers through Yellowstone. However, in June of 1893 Secretary of Interior Hoke Smith said that transportation privileges would be granted to Chadbourne and several other concerns. So Chadbourne persevered and the Livingston Enterprise noted on June 24, 1893 that he “just added $2,000 worth of Concord coaches and surreys to his park transportation outfit [and] will begin operation around the first of July.” 

 In 1901 Chadbourne traded his camping and transportation business to Yellowstone transportation businessman George Wakefield for his Shields Valley Ranch. The Chadbournes moved to Shields Valley and spent the remainder of their life at the ranch. The small town of Chadborn, located on current Hwy 89 north of Livingston and along the Shields River was named after the couple. Dolly died in June of 1943 and A.W. followed soon after on September 15. Both are buried at Mountain View Cemetery in Livingston.

"WONDERLAND" View and Guide Book to YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK"

BY W. F. (William Frederick) HATFIELD, 1899, St. Anthony, ID

 

The A. W. Chadbourne Co. is one of the oldest in the Park transportation business, which fact is sufficient to guarantee its patrons good satisfaction. Arrangements with this company can be made for any kind of transportation or accommodations. The Concord coaches and native stock used by this company cannot be excelled. The cost of a camping trip is $25, including everything. This company also furnishes a five and one-half day trip with hotel accommodations at a rate of $35 from Cinnabar and return. Saddle horses $1 per day.

A.W. Chadbourne Obit

A.W Chadbourne Obit

[16Sep1943, Billings Gazette]