[Geysers] Yellowstone reference in 1888 Jules Verne novel

Nathan Dutzmann nathandutz at yahoo.com
Sat Mar 20 08:09:42 PDT 2010

I've been reading "Robur the Conqueror," a relatively obscure novel written by Jules Verne in 1888 about a guy who invents a flying machine and takes a few unwilling passengers on a flight around the world.  (I would assume it was originally written in French, but I'm not sure who translated it; it's a "Project Gutenberg" book and no translator is credited.)  I was interested to see the following paragraphs about the portion of the flight that takes the characters over Yellowstone:
After talking over several hypotheses more or less plausible they
came to the conclusion that this country encircled with mountains
must be the district declared by an Act of Congress in March, 1872,
to be the National Park of the United States. A strange region it
was. It well merited the name of a park--a park with mountains for
hills, with lakes for ponds, with rivers for streamlets, and with
geysers of marvelous power instead of fountains.
In a few minutes the "Albatross" glided across the Yellowstone River,
leaving Mount Stevenson on the right, and coasting the large lake
which bears the name of the stream. Great was the variety on the
banks of this basin, ribbed as they were with obsidian and tiny
crystals, reflecting the sunlight on their myriad facets. Wonderful
was the arrangement of the islands on its surface; magnificent were
the blue reflections of the gigantic mirror. And around the lake, one
of the highest in the globe, were multitudes of pelicans, swans,
gulls and geese, bernicles and divers. In places the steep banks were
clothed with green trees, pines and larches, and at the foot of the
escarpments there shot upwards innumerable white fumaroles, the vapor
escaping from the soil as from an enormous reservoir in which the
water is kept in permanent ebullition by subterranean fire.
The cook might have seized the opportunity of securing an ample
supply of trout, the only fish the Yellowstone Lake contains in
myriads. But the "Albatross" kept on at such a height that there was
no chance of indulging in a catch which assuredly would have been
In three quarters of an hour the lake was overpassed, and a little
farther on the last was seen of the geyser region, which rivals the
finest in Iceland. Leaning over the rail, Uncle Prudent and Phil
Evans watched the liquid columns which leaped up as though to furnish
the aeronef with a new element. There were the Fan, with the jets
shot forth in rays, the Fortress, which seemed to be defended by
waterspouts, the Faithful Friend, with her plume crowned with the
rainbows, the Giant, spurting forth a vertical torrent twenty feet
round and more than two hundred feet high.

I especially love a Giant Geyser shout-out from 1888!  (This was pre-Waimangu and decidedly pre-Steamboat.  Was Giant the world's tallest geyser at the time?)
--Nathan Dutzmann

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