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Yellowstone National Park's oldest hotel damaged in wind storm

yellowstone park hotel damaged.jpg
Posted at 5:51 PM, Jul 06, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-06 19:51:26-04

LAKE VILLAGE — Yellowstone National Park officials say a major storm blew down hundreds of trees Monday near Yellowstone Lake and damaged part of the park’s oldest hotel, Lake Hotel.

Witnesses say about seven large pines fell against the roof of the new addition of Lake Hotel, which is 120 years old. It was built by Old Faithful Inn creator Robert Reamer in 1903. The original Lake Hotel was built in 1891, years before Old Faithful was built in 1904.

Cleanup will continue for days and weeks ahead.

“We were on site here at Sandpiper maybe 15 minutes after it happened. They were moving guests out of the building,” said Sam Taggart, the Lake Hotel member of the historic restoration crew.

Miraculously, no one was hurt. The storm also hit the Fishing Bridge Road nearby.

Old Faithful historic restoration crew member Nisar Akbany said he was driving back to the park from Cody and was near the Fishing Bridge when, “the winds were up to 60 miles an hour. My car felt like it was going to fly off the road.”

The two men will help repair the hotel and damaged cabins nearby.

“The damage to the building was significant. It’s kind of shocking to see that kind of damage happen so quickly," Taggart said.

Park spokeswoman Carol Quinn said the trees that fell were lodge pole pines, which grow in the volcanic soil left by the Yellowstone Supervolcano.

“Lodge pole pines have a very shallow root system,” she said.

Quinn said the storm also hit Storm Point Trail, south of Fishing Bridge, so crews with chainsaws are working a mile from the road.

They will “remove hazard trees, which are trees which have the potential of falling down on the trail, but also to remove trees that are covering the trail right now," she said.

Xanterra is the concessionaire operating Lake Hotel. Although the company may have to replace the entire roof on this section, and nearby cabins, spokesman Rick Hoeninghausen has seen worse. He says this part of the hotel will house guests Thursday night.

“It’s not as bad as it could have been. Minimal impact to visitors and guests,” Hoeninghausen said.

And, the good news is, some of the downed trees will help repair other historical park structures.

“We have the preservation crew from Old Faithful here, and they’re getting logs they need for necessary repairs on Old Faithful Inn. And we have material we can use on Lake Lodge and other buildings in the park,” Taggart said.