Yellowstone Storekeepers - George Whittaker General Stores
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.
George Whittaker and the Yellowstone Park Stores - 1913 to 1932
The Army Days . . .
George Whittaker began his career in Yellowstone as a soldier for the 6th Cavalry. He was assigned to Ft. Yellowstone in February of 1891 after participating in the Sioux campaign of 1890 at Wounded Knee. He served in Yellowstone until 1896, when he was appointed as a Scout by Acting Superintendent Gen. S.B.M. Young. He assisted in protecting the wildlife and searching for poachers until 1898 when he enlisted to serve in the Spanish-American War. He served at the Missouri Barracks and the Philippines as a packer, eventually returning to his scout duties in the park in 1902. He continued on as a scout during the winters until 1910, while he spent the summers working as a Transportation Agent for the Yellowstone Park Transportation Co. at Canyon.
Whittaker the businessman . . .
In February of 1913 Whittaker purchased the Lyall-Henderson general store and post office at Mammoth. The enterprise became known as The Yellowstone Park Store. In 1914 Whittaker built a 20’ by 30’ addition to the store with an ornamental plate glass front. Financial reports showed 7 employees, including Mrs. Grace Whittaker, who is listed as Manager. He expanded into the gas station business in August of 1915 when automobiles were first allowed into the park and added a new gas station in 1919. In 1921-22 a 16’ long addition was built at the rear of the store. A 30’ addition to the former post office annex was also added.
Top Left: Jenny H. Ash store at Mammoth ca1896
Top Right: Lyall-Henderson store at Mammoth ca1907. [YNP #9388]
Bottom Right: Whittaker store 1917. [YNP #199719-72]
In 1918 Whittaker established a store and gas station at Canyon. The store occupied a log building abandoned by Holm Transportation Co. and was located next to the ranger station, along the rim of the Grand Canyon. The old buildings consisted of one 18’ x 20’ cabin, a 14’ x 16’ cabin, a 22’ x 50’ stable and two outhouses. In the fall of 1919, he began construction a new large log store building that was completed the following spring. In 1921-22 a new warehouse was built at Canyon Revised blueprints from 1924 of Whittaker’s Canyon operation showed a ‘T’-shaped filling station with 4 pumps, a rectangular shaped store and 3 storage buildings. He then formed a partnership with the Yellowstone Park Transportation Co. to operate the gas stations, with each partner having a 50% interest in the business. (The YPTCo also formed a similar relationship with Charles Hamilton's gas stations in the southern part of the park.)
By 1923 he was operating a branch store at the Mammoth auto camp and the following year he added a deli to the Mammoth camp operation. In 1925 he sold the camp store business to Pryor & Trischman.
Left: Whittaker store at Canyon ca1918, using old Holm Transportation Building
Right: Whittaker gas station at Canyon, early 1920s. YNP #36503
Left: Whittaker store at Canyon ca1922. YNP 36501-733
Right: Whittaker gas station at Canyon, ca1922. YNP #36501-732
Left: Aerial view of Whittaker general store, gas station and support buildings at Canyon, undated.
The sale to Pryor & Trischman and move to West Yellowstone . . .
After 40 years of service in the park, George Whittaker decided to retire from the Yellowstone scene. He sold out to sisters Anna Pryor and Elizabeth Trischman in 1932 for $75,000, giving them a monopoly on the general store business in the northern half of the park. The sale included his 50% interest in the service station business at Canyon and Mammoth. He moved to West Yellowstone, where he had recently purchased property and an interest in the Hayward Cabin Co. The business included tourist cabins, a general store, service station and a beauty/barber shop. He was also involved in the construction of the first airstrip in West Yellowstone during the mid-30's. He continued his operation at West until the late 1940's when he sold the business (he was in his late 70's by this time). He eventually moved to the Old Soldiers Home at Sawtelle, California and died there in 1961 at age 91.
Left: Hayward Cabins at West Yellowstone, 1940s.
Right: Whittaker's Red Crown gas station in West Yellowstone, 1940s.