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150 years of drawing a crowd: Yellowstone National Park looks toward a future with more people

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Yellowstone

Visitors watch the Old Faithful Geyser erupt from a deck at Old Faithful Inn in July 2013.

Take a walk through the Old Faithful Inn in the evening, and you won’t see many people in their rooms.

You’ll see people in the lobby, said Rick Hoeninghausen, the director of sales and marketing for Yellowstone National Park Lodges. Complete strangers will gather on couches, and they’ll chat with one another about their experiences in the park. They’ll tell stories and pass around their tablets and phones to share pictures.

That’s special, particularly in today’s divisive world, said Hoeninghausen. It harkens back to a time when art and literature helped to convince the public — and Congress — that Yellowstone was special and worthy of preservation.

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Visitors walk around the Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces in Yellowstone National Park on Wednesday, June 16, 2021.

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Castle Geyser in the Upper Geyser Basin is seen in a Thomas Moran painting from 1874.

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A 1871 photograph by William Henry Jackson shows a person walking along Jupiter Terrace at Mammoth Hot Springs.

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A quote is inscribed on the Roosevelt Arch in Gardiner on Feb. 10, 2022.

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The Mammoth Hot Springs dining room is lit up at sunset in Yellowstone National Park on Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022.

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Yellowstone National Park stickers are for sale at a gift shop in Mammoth Hot Springs on Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022.

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Visitors walk around the Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces in Yellowstone National Park on Wednesday, June 16, 2021.

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Visitors photograph a black bear east of Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park on Wednesday, June 16, 2021.

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The sun sets on the Blacktail Creek area of Yellowstone National Park on Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022.

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Helena Dore can be reached at hdore@dailychronicle.com or at 582-2628.

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