The Old Faithful Inn is the most requested lodging facility within Yellowstone National Park! It’s a national historic landmark—classified as such in 1987—and was added to the US Register of Historic Places in 1973.
It got its name for the close proximity to the Old Faithful Geyser, which is the world’s most famous such geological feature and can be viewed through the entrance. The closest town is West Yellowstone, Montana, 31 miles away.
The Inn was built in 1904, and was the first of the American West’s great park lodges. When built, it had electricity and steam heat. It replaced the Upper Geyser Basin Hotel, also called the “Shack Hotel”, which burned down. The Inn’s original cost was $140,000 and furnished for $25,000, of which some original pieces remain.
The Old House, or original section, was finished in 1904, the east wing in 1914, and the west wing in 1927, making the building 700 feet long. The building has 327 guests rooms, available to lodge in from early May to mid-October.
The central massive stone fireplace stands at 85 feet and is estimated to weigh 500 tons! Two interesting structural features are the roof walk and the Crow’s Nest, which is high above by the second balcony and was where musicians performed.
The chief architect was 29-year-old Robert Reamer. Since it was built during the beginning of the “Golden Age” of rustic architecture, the Inn is considered to be the inspiration for modern “parkitecture”, also known as National Park Service Rustic in architectural circles. The American Institute of Architects’ 2007 survey of America’s favorite buildings ranked the Inn at 36, just after Pittsburgh’s Allegheny Courthouse and before Washington, DC’s Union Station.
Not only is it the oldest, but the OFL is the biggest too! It’s the largest log hotel in the world, and it might even be the world’s largest log structure.
A small list of interesting architectural tidbits shared with us by SeeJH follower Gay Laurine Nuckolls: “There are eight fireplaces; the windows are different, some have diamond panes, some are square; the railings and posts are made from damaged branches; all rooms in the ‘old house’ are different, some have window seats, one has a skylight, one has small stairs.”
Famous guests have included Presidents Arthur, Harding, Coolidge, and both Roosevelts. Check out How the Rockefellers got to Jackson Hole?
Two natural calamities came close to seriously damaging the Inn. The 1959 Hebgen Lake Earthquake collapsed parts of the lobby’s and dining room’s fireplaces, and also loosened the building from its foundation. The 1988 North Fork Fire raged very close to the Inn, the fine work of firefighters and the newly-installed sprinkler system saving the day.
Two legends to share. First, legend has it that in the early 20th Century a freak blizzard struck on an August 25th, trapping the guests. To make the most of the situation, they had a “Christmas in August” celebration! The second is an alleged gruesome tragedy of a newlywed couple. The husband beheaded her after the marriage, and her headless ghost is said to be seen roaming the Inn’s grounds!
Have you been to the Old Faithful Inn?