More than mere camps and coaches : the Wylie Camping Company and the development of a middle-class leisure ethic in Yellowstone National Park, 1883-1916

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Letters & Science


This thesis examines the influences of tourism upon the American West and its relationship with Yellowstone National Park in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In addition, this inquiry investigates the development and evolution of the Wylie Camping Company in Yellowstone and the company's connection with the advancement of tourism to the American West. Furthermore, within the context of changing ideas of work and leisure time in the past two centuries, this study explores the advancement of the idea of nature appreciation in America, and the interaction of Yellowstone's tourists with the natural environment. Through a cultural lens this examination aims to illuminate an understanding of tourists' complex emotional, physical, and ideological encounters with the mythic West and the equally fabled Yellowstone. With an eye on nineteenth-century middle-class cultural ideals, this study provides insight into the stagecoach-era tourists' experience of Yellowstone with the Wylie Camping Company. Finally, drawing on archival documents, published literature, and unpublished photo collections, this thesis demonstrates that the Wylie Camping Company played an important role in the establishment of Yellowstone as a legendary tourist destination and in the creation of a model of touring that set a precedent for camping and touring operations in other national parks around the West. To date there is no existing study of the Wylie Camping Co. in Yellowstone National Park.




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