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Saint Paul, Minn., July 6, 1888.

SIR: I have the honor to forward herewith my report, in duplicate, upon the improvement and construction of roads and bridges in the Yellowstone National Park for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1888. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Major of Engineers.



In charge of Capt. Clinton B. Sears, Corps of Engineers, until April 16, 1888. Since that date in charge of Maj. Charles J. Allen, Corps of Engineers.]

The beginning of systematic road and bridge construction in the park followed an appropriation of $40,000 made by act of Congress approved March 3, 1883, the portion of the appropriation allotted to construction work to be expended under the supervision and direction of an engineer officer detailed by the Secretary of War.

Capt. D. C. Kingman was the officer so detailed. He continued in charge until April 1, 1887, when he was relieved by Captain Sears.

Those officers accomplished a large amount of excellent work in repairing old roads and in opening routes to regions in the park thereto. fore inaccessible to tourists.

The project for this improvement consists in repairing old trails and in the construction of substantial roads, about 18 feet in width, well crowned, ditched and drained, with easy grades, and, where necessary, covered with gravel or broken rock; also, the building of good bridges over the streams. The permanent roads to cover a circuit of about 145 miles, extending from the park line at Gardiner, Mont., to the Mammoth Hot Springs; thence to Norris Geyser Basin; thence to Upper

Geyser Basin; thence to Yellowstone Lake via Shoshone Lake, across the great continental divide of the Rocky Mountains; thence along the Yellowstone Lake and Yellowstone River via the Falls and the Grand Cañon to Yancy's; thence to the Mammoth Hot Springs. In addition, a cross-road from the Firehole Basin to the Falls of the Yellowstone; a cross-road from the latter to the Norris Basin; a road from the west line of the park to the Firehole Basin; a road from Yancy's to the east line of the park, and a number of short branch roads and trails from the intersections of the above-named roads to minor objects of interest off the main lines of travel; in all, about 225 miles of new road, about twenty large and fifty small bridges, and many culverts contemplated in the project. Cost of completion of the project, as estimated in the Annual Report, 1887, $250,000.

The condition of the roads and bridges before the adoption of the present project was deplorable. The roads, few in number and short in extent, were mere wagon trails; the grades were frequently excessively steep, and the roads full of stumps, rocks, boggy places, and danerous side-hill slants.

The foregoing is derived from the Annual Report of the Chief of Engineers for 1887, and from Appendix A A A to the same.

Following is a statement of the work accomplished by Captain Sears in the past fiscal year, from memoranda furnished by him:

On July 1, 1887, the appropriation for the new fiscal year became available, and three working parties, provided with the proper camp outfit, tools, teams, etc., were put into the field and began work, which was continued uninterruptedly up to October 15, 1887, when all parties were withdrawn and discharged, and the plant stored for the winter in charge of a watchman.

One party began at Gibbon Meadow, near the entrance to the cañon, and worked north toward Norris Geyser Basin, building a new permanent road, which was finished to the latter point. A considerable portion of the road was through a heavy meadow soil, soaked with water, requiring much deep ditching, many culverts, and numerous drains.

The rest was through heavy timber. The total length was about 4 miles. The line adopted was almost entirely new, and but little of the old road was utilized. Another party began operations on the road from Norris Basin to the Falls and Grand Cañon, taking up the work where it was left off at the close of the last season. This road was completed to within a mile of the Falls, and partially built to within onefourth of a mile of same. The total length of road built on this section was equivalent to about 6 miles of new road. The greater portion of this was through heavy timber, and about half a mile in Virginia Cañon required retaining-walls of dry bowlder masonry.

A third party started at the end of last year's completed road near Beaver Lake and worked toward Swan Lake Meadow on the line of the main road to the Mammoth Hot Springs. The line followed was entirely new and none of the old road was used. Most of the route lay through quite heavy timber and required much clearing and grubbing, and, being partly on wet side hill, necessitated deep ditches, numerous drains, and many culverts. The length of road built was about 6 miles. A king-post truss-bridge of 30 feet span was built over Obsidian Creek. In addition to the above small parties were detached from time to time to cut side trails, and to temporarily repair the original improved roads so as to keep them in passable condition, and to clear the improved roads of fallen timber. The principal trail work was the construction of a 4-foot bridle path of easy grade from the old trail, a short distance beyond the bridge over Cascade Creek, towards the crest of the lower falls of the Yellowstone.

All roads were cleared of timber for a width of 30 feet, and graded, crowned, and finished to a width of from 18 to 20 feet, exclusive of side drains. All bridges and culverts were covered with 3-inch planks, and the total number built was 43.

The total work done during the season from July 1 to October 15 was equivalent to the entire construction of about 18 miles of new road cleared, grubbed, plowed, graded, and finished. Of this, about 55,000 feet was through heavy timber, and some 10,000 feet through meadow and prairie land; the balance being of varied character, through light timber or on open side hill, etc.

The sum turned over to me April 16, 1888, was $835.22.

With these funds some necessary repairs were made to the roads, bridge-piers, and the retaining-wall in Virgina Cañon. The work was performed by hired labor.

Repairs are always necessary more or less in the spring, as rock, bowlders, and earth are moved from the hill and mountain sides under the action of frost and spring thaws and rains, and the storms of winter uproot trees, many of which fall across the roads. As the mileage of roads increases, the annual outlay necessary for repairs will increase. The principal work performed under the Engineer Department may be summarized as follows:

Miles of new road built.......

Miles of roads (original wagon trails) mended
Miles of new roads repaired (about)..

Number of large bridges built

Number of small bridges built

And many culverts.

Some of the new work was through heavy rock cutting. Expended during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1888.. Expended since the adoption of the present project..

Under the appropriation of 1883.
Under the appropriation of 1884..
Under the appropriation of 1885.

*Total to June 30, 1886..

Under the appropriation approved August 4, 1886.
Under the appropriation approved March 3, 1887..

Total to June 30, 1888 ....






$20,000.00 109, 779. 42

23,570.03 23, 000. 02 23, 209.37

69, 779.42



109, 779.42

The roads and bridges constructed and kept in repair under the present project are generally in very good condition, but the entire project as to extent of roads and bridges must be carried out before the park will fully attain the object for which it was established by Congress. All roads in the park should be well constructed, not only with a view to permanency, but also to appearance. They should not be behind those of any public park in the United States. In constructing them I favor an increase in width over the present gauge where sharp turns occur, especially on hillsides or where the roads border precipices, and, in the latter cases, providing them with substantial parapets. Parapets, as mentioned, will add something to the cost of construction, but they are to a certain extent necessary, and, where possible, the construction work, bridges especially, should be in harmony with the character of country. These particulars can not, probably, all be attempted for some years to come, but I believe that they will eventually receive consider


As the number of tourists in the park increase some extension of roads, bridges, and bridle-paths beyond what the present project contemplates may eventually become necessary, and with that in view further explorations and reconnaissances in the park by the engineers should be provided for.

I heartily indorse the views of the officers who preceded me in charge of this work, that the National Park should be maintained for the purpose for which Congress established it, viz, for a public park for the benefit and enjoyment of the people. Its many objects of interest should be readily, safely, and cheaply accessible, and this can best be accomplished by providing liberal and regular appropriations for the work.

*See page 3135, Appendix A A A, Part 4, Annual Report of the Chief of Engineers, 1897.

The last annual report estimated $130,000 as the sum needed for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1889. I renew that estimate for the year ending June 30, 1890, and would urge, in connection with the estimate, the advantage of an early appropriation. The season for work in the park is short, and in case an appropriation for the fiscal year is made late in the season, the short time available to the engineer for planning his work and organizing for the same places him and the improvement and all concerned at a great disadvantage. On the other hand, an appropriation made, say, in February or March, affords time for maturing plans, so as to take the field promptly on the 1st of July, and thereby accomplish a good amount of creditable work before cold weather sets in.

The last annual report states the necessity for the purchase of a portable steam saw-mill and a portable rock-crusher, and for the construc tion of a warehouse, stable, and office; also, for a dwelling-house for overseer and watchman. During my visit to the park in June last the necessity for this outlay was apparent. The dwelling-house is needed in winter, as well as in summer, by the watchman in charge of the engineer plant. In fact, it will always be necessary to keep some one in the park to inspect and repair roads and bridges, and that employé should have comfortable quarters for himself and family. The winters in the park are long and severe, and the hotels are then closed, so that the watchman is for months almost shut out from the rest of the world. The buildings should be located at Mammoth Hot Springs.

It is proposed to expend the $130,000 estimated as needed for the year ending June 30, 1890, so far as it will go, about as follows:

In completing the belt road, by continuing the existing road from the Upper Geyser Basin to and around Shoshone Lake; thence across the Great Continental Divide to the Yellowstone Lake; thence along that lake to the Yellowstone River; thence along the river to the Graud Cañon; thence to Yancy's; thence to the Mammoth Hot Springs, improving and completing the old rough road between those points; also, in repairing and completing the roads already built or commenced under the present project; in repairing old trails where necessary, and in opening and constructing such cross-roads and bridle-paths as may be immediately needed; also, in purchasing the plant and constructing the buildings needed for the work.

I wish, in conclusion, to acknowledge the valuable assistance rendered me by Mr. E. Lamartine during the portion of the fiscal year in which the work has been in my charge. Mr. Lamartine's connection with work upon roads and bridges in the park extends over six or seven years, and the value of his services has been fully acknowledged by the officers preceding me in charge.

Moncy statement.

Amount appropriated by act of March 3, 1887

July 1, 1888, amount expended during fiscal year, exclusive of liabilities outstanding July 1, 1887.

July 1, 1888, outstanding liabilities


$19, 716.84

283. 16


Amount (estimated) required for completion of existing project.... 230, 000, 00 Amount that can be profitably expended in fiscal year ending June 30, 1890 130, 000, 00 Submitted in compliance with requirements of sections 2 of river and

harbor acts of 1866 and 1867.

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