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In 1872 Congress established Yellowstone National Park, and its vast wonders mesmerized early sightseers, including school superintendent William Wallace Wylie. From 1896 to 1905 his Wylie Camping Company fed, sheltered, and guided thousands of Victorian vacationers through relaxed week-long tours. Wylie promised travelers comfort and delicious meals. His clients enjoyed heated sleeping tents, informative outings, and fresh-air bonfires. His guides utilized the park as an outdoor classroom and set an example for concessions throughout Yellowstone.
Operating his business was a formidable task. Wylie contended with bears, runaway horses, and drunken stage coach drivers as well as park superintendents, railroad officials, and federal legislators. Eventually the demands became too great, and he sold his business. But the Wylie Camping Company and its owner's unswerving efforts helped develop, define, and preserve tourism in the West, particularly in America's first national park.