Albright Visitor Center re-opens Sunday

The Albright Visitor's Center was originally single officers' quarters for the United States Army at the facility then known as Fort Sheridan. (NPS photo)

MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS, YNP — The National Park Service will celebrate the grand re-opening and dedication of the Horace M. Albright Visitor Center on Sunday July 12, 2015 at 10:00 a.m. at Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park. .

After closing the center in the fall of 2013, crews reconfigured the building for better accessibility and retrofitted it for seismic activity, as well as creating dynamic exhibits.

With record breaking visitor numbers in the park this year the AVC may see record numbers for the rest of the summer. (NPS photo)
With record breaking visitor numbers in the park this year the AVC may see record numbers for the rest of the summer. (NPS photo)

The dedication ceremony will feature speakers, a color guard, a ribbon cutting and refreshments leading up to the re-opening of the facility to the public. Speakers include Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk, Board Chair of the Yellowstone Association Claire Campbell, and keynote speaker Bob Barbee, former Superintendent of Yellowstone.

The center has served the visitors and resources of Yellowstone National Park since 1909 and is located five miles inside the North Entrance in the northwest corner of the park. The facilities were originally single officers’ quarters for the United States Army at the facility then known as Fort Sheridan.

Windows, doors, and fireplaces preserve the historic character but new exhibits help orient visitors to Yellowstone’s natural and cultural treasures.

The renovated visitor's center has interactive displays to make visitors experiences a lifelong memory. (NPS photo)
The renovated visitor’s center has interactive displays and guided tours hosted by park rangers. (NPS photo)

Interpretive areas with interactive displays offers enhanced trip planning information, and park rangers give educational talks and tours throughout the year. Backcountry camping, boating and fishing permits are available downstairs in the Mammoth Backcountry Office.

The Yellowstone Association operates a bookstore in the visitor center and exhibits illustrate the relationships of Yellowstone wildlife to each other and their home in the mountains. Visitors can compare their height to the full height of a bull bison, touch horns and antlers and learn the difference between them, catch a glimpse of the vast northern range — where wildlife sightings are common — learn how to safely view wildlife and learn about the active hot springs and how and why they differ from other thermal features in the park.

Other exhibits highlight Yellowstone’s rich cultural heritage, the struggles that took place here, the establishment of the world’s first national park in 1872 and the immense challenges that followed. Exhibits take you through the arrival of the United States Army and the 1916 establishment of the National Park Service.

Historic Fort Yellowstone

The visitor center and all the red-roofed, multi-chimney houses down the street from it were built by the US Army during a time when this was Fort Yellowstone, an Army post dedicated to protecting the national park. Although the soldiers left after the National Park Service was created in 1916, outwardly the old fort has changed little from the time the Army ran it. Fort Yellowstone is composed mostly of two rows of buildings and is one of the best remaining examples of a 1900-era cavalry post.

The visitors center was originally a U.S. Army fort that was established to protect the parks resources (NPS photo)
The visitors center was originally a U.S. Army fort that was established to protect the parks resources. (NPS photo)

According to Wikipedia, Yellowstone was designated as a national park in 1872, the first in the world, but the Interior Department was unable to effectively manage it. Administration was transferred to the War Department in August 1886 and General Philip Sheridan sent a company of cavalry to Mammoth Hot Springs to build a cavalry post. Fort Yellowstone was established as a U.S. Army fort in 1891 and the army originally called the post Camp Sheridan in honor of General Sheridan but the name was changed to Fort Yellowstone in 1891 when construction of the permanent fort began.

The army administered the park until 1918 when it was transferred to the newly created National Park Service. The facilities of Fort Yellowstone now comprise the park’s headquarters.