National Geographic : 1940 Jun
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE Photograph by Haynes, Inc. FAT, DIGNIFIED NONPAYING GUESTS LIVE UNDER OLD FAITHFUL LODGE Golden-mantled marmots eat from visitors' hands and seem to be always hungry. No wonder! They have to gobble enough in the summer to last them all winter; in autumn, with a layer of fat under the skin, they go quietly to sleep in their burrows for four or five months. In this strange land "dry lightning" sometimes strikes. Last summer a bolt from a "dry thunder storm" caused a forest fire which burned some 2,500 acres on the Mirror Plateau. Chief Ranger Francis La Noue and his aids licked it with the aid of airplanes and short-wave radio (page 791). CLIMBER ON ELECTRIC PEAK FELT HIS HAIR STAND ON END An electrical curiosity is Electric Peak, so named from an experience of the late Henry Gannett of the United States Geo logical Survey, long a trustee of the Na tional Geographic Society. He reported that when nearing the summit with survey ing instruments in 1872 while a thunder shower was approaching, he heard crackling sounds like a rapid discharge of sparks, and the current, passing through his body, made his head and fingertips prickle while his hair "stood completely on end." Others in the party felt similar effects. "Which of all the marvels of the Yellow- stone," I wondered, "makes the greatest impression?" To get a cross section of opinion I stopped and asked questions at each of the five gates where cars pour in and out of the park. "What hit me hardest?" said an easterner. "Old Faithful, of course." "Bears!" yelled another. "That wonderful canyon!" a woman ex claimed. "The unparalleled thermal activity," said a serious-minded student. But I think the best reaction to Yellow stone is that of old White Hawk, a Bannock Indian, whom Bill Kearns, Assistant Park Naturalist, escorted through the park in 1935. At Old Faithful someone asked White Hawk whether it was true that In dians used to shun the geyser areas, be lieving them the abode of evil spirits. The old chief shook his head and gazed with practical eye at the plumes of hot water, the gemlike seething pools. "Ugh," said he. "Good place cookum meat."