Hotels in the Yellowstone
Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel
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.
Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel
The National Hotel was built Mammoth Hot Springs by the Yellowstone Park Improvement Co. It partially opened for business in August 1883 with 141 rooms and was designed by architect L.F. Buffington. This was the first high-class hotel built in the park and was the first stop for visitors coming to the park via the Northern Pacific RR. Six-horse stages brought guests from the Northern Pacific RR rail depot in Cinnabar (Gardiner in 1903 and after) to the hotel.
Top Right: Coaches Coming into Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel from Gardiner. From 1903 Wonderland, NPRR.
Left: Construction of interior of hotel 1883. FJ Haynes stereoview.
Bottom: Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, 1883. T.W. Ingersoll stereoview #1119
Top Left: National Hotel at Mammoth under construction, Spring 1883. F.J. Haynes Stereoview
Top Right: Final construction of exterior of National Hotel, Spring 1883. C.E. Watkins Cabinet Photo #D221.
A carpenter’s strike in 1884 delayed the completion of the hotel until 1886.The hotel company suffered financial problems in 1884 and went into receivership and was taken over by the new Yellowstone Park Association (YPA) in 1886. The building was 414' long and 54' wide, with four stories, and painted green with a red roof. Electric lights were installed at the end of the 1887 season, but by the end of 1888, they had not been actually hooked up.
Top Left: Hotel National Park, LJ Buffington, Archt, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Minn. 1888, Architect's drawing, FJ Haynes card.
Top Right: Mammoth Hotel Lobby, 1923. Haynes postcard #23310.
Left: Haynes photo stand inside of the National Hotel (Mammoth Hotel). Haynes photo, undated.
The old National Hotel underwent major reconstruction in 1913 when most of the 4th floor was removed and the roof flattened. The four-story North Wing was added with 124 rooms (right of building) with 28 private baths, and 8 public baths. By this time the Mammoth Hotel could entertain 600 guests.
According to the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel Historic Structures Report, put together by A&E Architects, “The hotel company built the new wing for the Mammoth hotel with day labor and without the benefit of construction drawings. According to W. M. Nichols, President of the YPHC, “Reamer does much better to build as he goes along rather than to draw up a set of specifications and be tied down to them.” No construction drawings for the remodel of the old Mammoth Hotel have been found, indicating that Reamer may have followed the same procedure for that part of the 1913 work."
Top Left: Newspaper article about the proposed renovations of the Mammoth Hotel. The room & bathroom count was slightly exaggerated. [Yellowstone Monitor, 3Apr1913]
Right: View of the "Boy's Dorm," 1917. Later known as Juniper Dorm, it remains in use. Many sources date it 1936, but that would be incorrect. It looks much the same as it did over 100 years ago. YNP Archive records date its construction in 1914.
[Haynes Photo, 1917 NPS Bldg Survey]
Bottom Left: View of the newly-remodel Mammoth Hotel and the new North Wing at right. [YNP #50780]
Bottom Right: Postcard view of the remodeled Mammoth Hotel, 1923. [Haynes postcard #23298]
The New Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel & Cottages
Good-Bye to the old National Hotel . . .
The old hotel was torn down in 1936 and a new complex of buildings was constructed under the direction of Robert Reamer, architect for the Old Faithful Inn. Lumber and other materials from the old hotel were saved and reused as much as possible to save on construction costs. The North Wing (left of structure) was retained and is currently the only existing remnant of the original hotel. A two-story building was built in front of the old wing that would house the lobby, lounge, hotel offices, telegraph and telephone divisions, news and cigar stands, and other public services.
Right: News article regarding the razing og the old Mammoth Hotel.
[Indianapolis Star, Ind., Aug. 30, 1936]
Bottom Left: Demolition of the old Mammoth Hotel, Sept. 1936. [YNP #185333-361]
Bottom Right: Demolition of the old Mammoth Hotel, Oct. 1936. [YNP #20772]
Bottom Left: View of the Mammoth Hotel complex prior to razing in 1936. The North Wing (1913) at upper left, was retained, while the rest of the hotel was demolished. Juniper Dorm (1914) was retained (center left), while the dorm on lower right also remained. Both are currently in service. [YNP #185333-358]
Bottom Right: View of the hotel commissary, located directly behind the North Wing. It was also demo'ed in 1936. [YNP #30500]
A separate two-story building was erected across the road from the hotel wing and utilized some of the original hotel foundations. A restaurant and coffee shop occupied the 1st floor, while the 2nd floor was made into small apartments for office staff housing.
Numerous service buildings behind the original hotel, including warehouses, print shop, laundry, tailor shop, and garages were either completely razed or remodeled to fit into the overall design
Right: The new restaurant and coffee shop at Mammoth, located upon the foundations of the old hotel in 1939. The top floor rooms housed hotel office staff. [YNP #1546]
Top Left: 1939 postcard view of the newly-remodel Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel (right), restaurant (left center), Rec Hall complex (center behind hotel portico), and the cabin area (rear at base of hills). [Haynes #39036]
Top Right: Late 1950s postcard view of the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel. The North Wing can be seen abovethe lobby building. [West Yellowstone Postcard Co. #73143]
In 1937 Robert Reamer designed and assembled a giant map of the United States, made with 15 different types of wood, with 2500 individual pieces. It was fabricated from January 2 to June 1 in Seattle and assembled on site on the south wall of the hotel lounge. It is just over 10' tall and over 17' long.
In 1963, the hotel lounge was converted to a meeting room and lobby and became known as the Map Room. A new entry was cut between the lobby and lounge. The map was moved to the west wall.
Top Left: 1953 postcard view of the lounge area of the hotel, now called the Map Room. The wood map designed by Robert Reamer was later moved to the right wall when a new doorway was installed on the left side of the map. [Haynes #53K353]
Right: Article about the Reamer map from the Billings Gazette, 3Jul1937.
(Click to enlarge)
Bottom Left: the famous wooden map designed by Robert Reamer. It was removed in 1917 for conservation work and returned to service.
(Click to enlarge)
In 1936-38, a complex of 97 cabins was erected along the edge of the hill for the ever-growing number of auto tourists, consisting of single and double units with a capacity of 200 guests.The individual cabins are simple wood-framed, gable-roofed structures with front porches; they have a less rustic design than their counterparts in other park locations in order to integrate with the appearance of the hotel.
Top Left: New cabin area directly behind the recreation hall and fountain bldg, Aug. 1939. [YNP #185327-425]
Bottom Left: View of the back cluster of guest cabins, Aug. 1939. [YNP #185327-426]
Top Right: Fountain, Cocktail Lounge, Gift Shop, Beauty & Barber Shop, and Rec Hall, fall 1939. [YNP #185327-402]
Also constructed behind the hotel was a recreation hall that had café with fountain services available at the opposite end of the building. Recreational features included an octagonal sunken dance floor — on wood joists, cocktail lounge/soda fountain, and a stage with dressing room. Additional facilities included a Gift Shop, Beauty Shop, Barber Shop, restrooms, print shop, laundry, linen room, dispensary, and nursing room. Despite the number and variety of public spaces, a single door provided entry to the recreation hall, thus preventing draughts that would be "a source of annoyance to those seated at tables." In later years the café and fountain were converted into office space for the accounting department and another doorway was installed that led from the lobby to the cabin area.
The new Mammoth recreation hall was officially dedicated on June 25, 1937. The recreation room in connection with the Mammoth Hotel was completed during July of 1937 and opened to the public, while some: of the cabins in the new Mammoth group were ready for occupancy when the Mammoth Hotel opened about the middle of June.
Around 1950 the hotel became known as the Mammoth Motor Inn and the Terrace Grill was renamed the Terrace Coffee Shop. Mammoth Motor Inn opened for the winter season in 1966, but it lasted only through the 1969 season. In the winter of 1981-82, the hotel again opened for the winter season to serve snowmobilers, snowcoach tours, and cross-country skiers. Snowmobiles were rented at Mammoth and the snowcoaches provided transit to the Grand Canyon and Old Faithful. Guests were housed in the Aspen Lodge that was used as an employee dorm during the summer season. Around that time the old telegraph room in the corner of the Hotel lobby was converted to a gift shop. A new lounge/bar is built in the former kitchen storeroom, to the right of the entry of the restaurant. The hotel and cabins are currently operated by Xanterra Parks & Resorts
Mammoth Lodge - 1917-1940
Mammoth Lodge was built on the flats south of Capitol Hill in 1917 by the Yellowstone Park Camping Co. It replaced the camps previously located at Swan Lake Flats and Willow Flats that were closed after the 1916 season. It was often referred to as Mammoth Camp in the early years. A swimming pool was built in 1920 and the main lodge building was built in 1922-23, along with a laundry, kitchen, dining room, dance hall, recreation hall, and offices. A dedication service for the new $100,000 lodge was held in July, 1923. Additional cabins were added in 1927.
Undated Real-Photo postcard of Mammoth Camp, located across from the Mammoth Terraces. (Click photo to see enlarged version)
Upper Left: The new Mammoth Lodge, undated photo. [YNP #185327-424]
Upper Right: Real-Photo of entrance to Mammoth Lodge, undated.
Lower Left: The Great Hall dining room at the Lodge in 1923. It was a popular venue for conventions. [Haynes PC #23307]
Lower Right: The 'Plunge.' It was always a popular feature at the Lodge. [YNP #9550]
Mrs. J.B. parks of Nebraska toured Yellowstone in 1927 and comment about Mammoth Lodge . . .
“we stayed [at the lodge] our first night in the park. There they have hundreds of little cabins equipped with stove, bed and bedding; neat and sanitary as a home, for tourists, who don’t care to stay at the Mammoth Hotel, a more elaborate place. Mammoth Lodge is a real rustic building, built of the natural pine logs, and has a bureau of information, office, curio shop, and checking room, a large reception and rest room with easy chairs, and writing tables, and large fireplace, where pine logs were burning. They have large dining rooms and kitchens; the meals are all served American style, and the work is done by student girls and boys.”
[1Sep1927 Ashland Gazette, Neb]
Upper Left: Tourist Cabin Office, undated. [YNP #47117]
Upper Right: Interior view of one of the wooden cabins, 1923. [Haynes PC #23405]
Lower Left: The early cabins were 'tent cabins', with wood floors and half-walls. [Real-Photo PC]
Lower Right: One of wooden cabins at the Lodge in 1923. [Haynes PC #23404]
The original cabins featured wood floors and partial wood walls. The rest was covered with tent canvas. Later on they were converted to hard-top wood cabins. A large complex of cabins was erected between the main lodge and the swimming pool. Seventy of the cabins were moved to Roosevelt Lodge in 1937-1938. Mammoth Lodge and other facilities in the park closed in 1940 due to WWII. Many reopened after 1945, but Mammoth Lodge did not. Close to 100 cabins had been built at Mammoth Hotel 1937-1939, and apparently the lodge facilities were not needed. The main lodge and other buildings were razed in 1949-50.
The 1950 Annual Superintendent’s report noted the following:
MAMMOTH LODGE RAZED
On November 17, 1949, a crew for the Yellowstone Park Company started tearing down the Mammoth Lodge, which was constructed in 1922. The dismantling of the interior of the lodge had been in progress for several weeks prior to that date. The laundry in this building will be allowed to remain until the new laundry in connection with the Mammoth Hotel is constructed.