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Architecture: Fort Yellowstone and Mammoth Hot Springs



Jamie Daugaard, Centre Sky Architecture

Americans were the first humans to frequent the
area in and around what is now known as Mammoth
Hot Springs, in the north-central part of Yellowstone
National Park. Just south of Gardiner and
the park’s historic original entrance, Mammoth
was known historically as “White Mountain,”
for the tons of dissolved limestone deposited by
hot springs. On March 1, 1872, the nation’s first
national park was created surrounding this site.

Starting in 1886, the U.S. Army was charged with
overseeing the park, and protecting the area from
geologic vandals, poachers and squatters. They
lived in Camp Sheridan, a temporary military
camp near Mammoth, which in 1891 became the
more permanent Fort Yellowstone.

The Army built 35 structures at the fort based on
military academy planning, which housed more
than 300 soldiers at times. These included the of –
ficer’s quarters (today’s Albright Visitors Center),
the guardhouse, headquarters, stables, two troop
barracks for 200 men (now the administration
Building) and a chapel. Many of the structures we
see today in Mammoth date back to that time.

This area was most suitable for the military camp
for several reasons. The park became more acces –
sible in the late 1800s, and the north entry gained
year-round access. Plus, this area sees milder
winters than many other areas of the park.

A number of architects have designed structures
in Yellowstone, but one in particular had a promi –
nent role: Robert Reamer. Reamer, “wonder boy”
architect of the park, designed over 25 buildings
there, including Old Faithful Inn, Mammoth Hot
Springs Hotel, the Executive House, the Gardiner
Depot and the Mammoth Cottages in the residen –
tial district. It’s also speculated that Reamer was
the architect on the Roosevelt Arch at the north

The area is now the current headquarters for the
National Park Service, and is called the Fort Yellowstone-
Mammoth Hot Springs Historic District.

If you have the opportunity, stop and enjoy the
history and architectural beauty of the town as we
know now as Mammoth Hot Springs.

Jamie Daugaard, principal of Centre Sky Architecture,
received his B-Arch and M-Arch from MSU.
Sustainability is deeply rooted in his work, which
is mostly located in mountain regions, with off ices
in Denver and Big Sky. If you’d like to comment
on this article or learn more about another topic,
contact him at or (406) 995-

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