By Sarah Gianelli EBS Associate Editor
BIG SKY – There are countless books about Yellowstone National Park, the large majority of which focus on its trails and sights, history, wildlife, scientific intrigue or sublime beauty. Now they are joined by a book that celebrates an often-overlooked aspect of the park—the myriad individuals at its heart, for whom it also lies at theirs.
Through the black and white photography of Steve Horan and profiles written by Ruth W. Crocker, both of whom have relatives in the book, “People of Yellowstone” casts an egalitarian lens on the gamut of lives happily entangled in sustaining and preserving the park for past, present and future generations.
Among the 87 individuals embraced between its coffee-table book covers are the obvious park heroes—rangers, rescuers, scientists—creatives and resident eccentrics, but also the less glamorously employed, equally integral park players who work in hospitality, trail maintenance, retail and construction.
Touting a “range of people as wide as the park’s ecosystem,” one spread might introduce you to Suzanne Lewis, who retired as Yellowstone’s first female superintendent in 2011 after 34 years in the Park Service, and the next to John Salvato, grateful to have escaped New York nearly 30 years ago to become bell captain at the Old Faithful Inn and a snow coach driver.
Flipping through “People of Yellowstone” you’ll become acquainted with the park’s official cellist, grizzly and wolf experts and conservationists as well as a transportation dispatcher, civil engineer, farrier, wrangler, backcountry chef, hunting guide, and U.S. magistrate judge at Mammoth Hot Springs.
Disparate as these individuals may seem, the tie that binds them is a shared sense of privilege to live, work and play within or just outside the gates of Yellowstone.
Horan’s thoughtful photography aims to capture his subjects in a natural habitat that conveys their personality and purpose. Through his leveling yet respectful eye, each individual exudes a distinct authenticity worthy of the spotlight.
Crocker’s brief biographies provide a written snapshot of each individual’s life and connection to Yellowstone, with a focus on illuminating a different facet of an insider’s view of the park.
In its diversity, “People of Yellowstone” is a delightfully refreshing addition to the tired tomes and glossy picture books that dominate park bookstores, and provides an inclusive, living history of the many different kinds of people and the many means by which they have forged a life-long connection to the world’s first national park.
Visit peopleofyellowstone.com for more information.