Yellowstone's Storekeepers

 


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Stores, Photo Shops and Misc. Businesses in Yellowstone

 

Hamilton Stores, Inc. is the concessionaire in the park currently (2002) authorized to sell generalsundries, supplies, groceries, and curios to the public. There are three main branches to the Hamilton family tree. The main branch of the tree started in 1897 when Henry and Mary Klamer (daughter of G.L Henderson) were granted a 10-year lease to build and operate a store at Old Faithful. They built a 2-story building and began operations. Apparently they were successful, for in 1913 they began construction on a 16' addition. After Henry's death in 1914, Mary sold the store to Charles A. Hamilton, an employee of YPA, who obtained financial backing from Harry W. Child. In 1917 Hamilton opened up a new store at Lake, and a filling station at Old Faithful. By 1930 Hamilton had stores with filling stations at Lake, Fishing Bridge, West Thumb, and two stores at Old Faithful. He continued to expand his business by buying the Brothers Geyser Baths and Swimming Pool at Old Faithful in 1933, which he rebuilt and expanded. The Hamilton Stores were replaced by Delaware North Co. in 2002, after some 80 years of service.

 

The second branch of the Hamilton tree starts in 1889 when Ole Anderson opened up a shop

in Mammoth selling curios and objects coated with residues from the mineral waters. In 1908 sisters Anna Trischman Pryor and Elizabeth Trischman bought out Anderson, and opened "The Park Curio & Coffee Shop." In 1924, they opened up a cold drink and ice cream stand on the Mammoth Terraces called the Devil's Kitchenette. At that time they also purchased George Whittaker’s’ deli in the auto camp. Whittaker, who also operated small stores at Mammoth and Canyon, sold out to Pryor & Trischman in 1932, giving them a monopoly in the northern half of the park. They continued to operate until 1953 when they sold their operation to Hamilton.

 

The third branch of the family tree has the oldest beginnings, but was the latest acquisition.

In 1884 Frank J. Haynes opened up a photo shop at Mammoth and Old Faithful. F. Jay was the Official Photographer of both the Northern Pacific railroad, and the Yellowstone Park Improvement Co. Frank was also involved in the stagecoach business for a number of years, but it is his photography that made him famous. By 1905 his work in Yellowstone was such that he severed his connections with the NPRy and concentrated on his park business. Eventually he was to have Haynes Photo Shops at all locations, with the exclusive right to sell images of Yellowstone inside the park. His son Jack ran the business from 1916 until his death in 1962. His wife continued to run the business for a few years, but finally sold out to Hamilton Stores in 1967.

 

There is one more segment of the Hamilton tree that currently operates under the name Yellowstone Park Service Stations. This company was formed in 1926 as a joint venture between Hamilton Stores, H.W. Child and Anna Pryor. They created a monopoly on gas sales and auto repairs in the park. YPSS is presently owned [2001] by Amfac Recreational Services and Hamilton Stores. There were a variety of other small business ventures started in the park in the late 1800's to early 1900's, most of which were short lived, or bought out by other companies. H.B. Calfee seems to have had one of the earliest recorded stores in the park. He was a photographer from Bozeman who, by at least 1881, had set up a crude tent store near Old Faithful to sell photos of the park. The following year saw the Henderson family setup a store and post office at Mammoth in one of James McCartney's buildings. There were several different laundry operations and bathhouses in existence at various times. Even Calamity Jane was issued a permit in 1897 to sell postcards of herself, reportedly to keep herself in drinks in Gardiner's finer establishments. After 1916, most all the small enterprises were gone, and the park was more or less 'officially' divided up among the businessmen and women mentioned earlier.