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A ride to the Infernal Regions: Yellowstone's First Tourists

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"Notes on the way to wonderland -- or, -- a ride to the infernal regions!" So began a unique travelogue in the September 9, 1871 issue of 'The New North-West', a Deer Lodge, Montana newspaper. In a series of 17 articles, Calvin Clawson, the newspaper's editor, recounted a horseback trip he and five companions made in August 1871 to what would become Yellowstone National Park.

Unlike previous expeditions, this small group did not have a scientific mission. Instead, having heard of Yellowstone's wonders, they simply wanted to see the sights. Thus they became Yellowstone's first tourists Their three-week trip was full of adventures and mesmerizing scenery. Along the way they encountered Indians, wild animals, and the famous Hayden Expedition.

Until now the Clawson trip had been largely unknown and never accessible in book form. Montana history writer Eugene Lee Silliman discovered the original newspaper articles and researched the trip and its members. His detailed introduction provides an excellent description of each member of the group and the circumstances surrounding their trip. In addition to its historical significance, Silliman notes that A Ride to the Infernal Regions is "a good read" with well-crafted descriptions and a flair for story telling.

In his foreword, Yellowstone historian Lee Whittlesey recommends that readers "curl up somewhere in a warm place, pretend it is 1871, and enjoy C.C. Clawson's fascinating tale of pre-stagecoach Yellowstone."