[Geysers] Why study geysers? Park Historian's thoughts.

carol beverly cbeverly777 at gmail.com
Thu Dec 22 20:57:38 PST 2011

I have *throughly* enjoyed all the reflections and points of interest
expressed by all about our beloved geysers!

My two cents:  They float my boat!!

Carol Beverly

On Thu, Dec 22, 2011 at 8:12 AM, <Lee_Whittlesey at nps.gov> wrote:

> Why study geysers in general and Fan/Mortar in particular?
> To Carlton’s, Paul Strasser’s, and Jeff Cross’s well thought out responses
> about prediction of the next eruption, I want to put in my two cents.
> Since I completed WONDERLAND NOMENCLATURE in 1988 with its long geyser
> history, I’ve been amazed at how much more I’ve found. I’ve added hundreds
> of long, flowery, and often poetic descriptions of geyser activity, many
> from newspapers, and some day, if I live long enough, I’ll publish them
> all, because they are all part of that data that Carlton Cross mentions. To
> me those accounts point to the fact that there is no place on earth that is
> like Yellowstone and so in my estimation every scrap of its history should
> be preserved, especially where that history is, as here, very unusual and
> often unique.
> To Carlton’s response about “no predictive value for ten or twenty years
> from now,” I would add that a few geysers have shown remarkable stability
> over time and the historic patterns that earlier observers recorded are
> still usable by us today, so it is valuable to know that. And even where
> thermal features have changed a great deal through time, our recording of
> their activity and evaluating that history may yet give us a clue toward
> predicting the next eruption, a result that Strasser reminds us is a
> “bottom line” and a result that Carlton reminds us is only possible if we
> HAVE the data because otherwise we won’t notice the correlations.
> These points are all relevant but I think there is an overarching point
> here, and it is that geyser study is a fascinating adjunct to the larger
> history of TOURISM…in the West, in America as a whole, and in the world. In
> that important realm (which is now becoming greatly studied by historians),
> Yellowstone is a central part, because it was the first incentive for
> tourism in the interior of the American West following the Civil War.
> Geysers were and are a big part of that. Geysers are extremely unusual
> natural features that attract discussion and ultimately tourism, and
> visitors have been fascinated by them since earliest days. And, too, they
> were the original reason for the establishment of Yellowstone National Park
> (not the animals or canyons or lakes or waterfalls, as many people wrongly
> believe).
> Those early visitors did not care about volcanism-over-millennia; they
> cared about the immediate geyser-show and the stories that got created
> because of it. As Jeff Cross reminded us, because the eruptions of the
> larger geysers are spectacular, they are worth the wait. This fascination
> for geysers by tourists is evidenced by the hundreds of accounts we have of
> their activity. And as many have mentioned, no other place else on earth
> has that (at least in this magnitude), and so that fact alone makes the
> geyser history worth recording.
> Finally, Tara Cross has put the frosting on the cake by reminding us about
> what makes tour guides tick, and we should remember that tour guides are an
> essential part of that tourism now being so studied by historians. I love
> her comment: “[Geysers] give me great joy. I would like others to
> experience that too.” That is the essence of a tour guide—someone who loves
> showing things to people.
> And I would argue that it is the essence of tourism itself.
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