The main one is A Year in the Great Republic volume 2 of 2.  Emily Katherine (sic) Bates.  London: Ward and Downey 1887.  I refer to this in the text as GR2.

Twenty years after the trip, Kat published a kind of spiritualist memoir, Seen and Unseen.  Emily Katherine (sic) Bates.  London: Greening and Co.  1907.  In it she added more information on the seances she had been to during the Year, and the spiritualists she had met.  I refer to this in the text as S/U.

Kat’s own source: on GR2 p1 she warns travellers not to put too much faith in statements made in Appleton’s Guide.  Perhaps she put too much faith in her own!  Kat’s most likely to have been using Appleton’s General Guide to the US and Canada, issued every year from 1879 to 1901; and its specialist guide to the North East of the USA, issued yearly from 1853.  However she might also have been able to pick up a copy of the 1876 guide to the American cities and the 1877 guide to winter resorts; and there was a specialist guide to the US south and south-west, published 1882. 

Source: wikipedia on Appleton’s Guides, which were published from as early as the 1840s by the firm D Appleton and Co of New York.  The firm began by issuing railway guides but in 1848 it issued its first tourist handbook.  The 1848 handbook only covered the USA but Appleton and Co later published guides to Canada, Europe and Latin America. 



Kat Bates was born in 1846, the youngest child of a Church of England cleric.  Both her parents had died by the time she was 10.  When she was 25 she inherited enough of an income to make her financially independent.  She was already widely travelled by 1885 but had never ventured quite so far, or for so long, before.  She was ready to rough it if necessary, and for a particular end in view, but she wasn’t really a pioneer.  She usually stayed in hotels; with friends or relations; or with people she had a letter of introduction to.  She isn’t good on dates!


For more on Kat’s life see my life-by-dates files. 



It seems astonishing to me but Kat had met the woman she calls Miss Greenlow only a short time before the two of them set out for the United States and Canada.  The trip was of the kind that can put a strain on any friendship: they were intending to be away for twelve months, and to travel in the relatively remote parts of the western states, as well as the sophisticated north east.  At least when they set out, Miss Greenlow knew very little about Kat’s past and was not acquainted with most of her friends.  However, they seem to have survived the experience with their friendship intact, due in large part, I think, to Miss Greenlow’s “very self-contained and unemotional”, phlegmatic character.  Miss Greenlow was, like Kat, a woman of independent means; I think those means were rather larger than Kat’s although their difference in income doesn’t seem to have caused problems between them.

Source: GR1 p199, p205; S/U p22, p26, p228.

Comment on Miss Greenlow’s identity from Sally Davis: I think ‘greenlow’ is one of Kat’s pseudonyms – she uses them a lot in her books.  I certainly haven’t been able to find much evidence of a likely ‘miss greenlow’ in the usual family history sources.



Comment by Sally Davis: it’s been rather a sad experience, investigating Kat’s stay in San Francisco – she liked the city so much, and after the earthquake of 1906 and the fires that followed, hardly any of the buildings she saw and visited were still standing.  There was a slippage on the San Andreas fault at 0512 local time on 18 April 1906.  Its epicentre is thought to have been at sea somewhere to the north-west of the Golden Gate; and it has been estimated as being about 7.8 on the Richter scale.  The lack of contemporary statistics means it is not known how many people died, but 80% of the city was destroyed.  300,000 people were made homeless; if they were still living in San Francisco, the friends Kat and Miss Greenlow stayed with must have been amongst them.

Source for the earthquake: its wikipedia page. 



After a short stay at the Palace Hotel, Kat and Miss Greenlow moved in with some people Kat had known when they lived in England.  They stayed with these friends – whom Kat doesn’t name – for several weeks.  Despite still not being fully restored to her usual health and energy, Kat managed to see enough of the city to decide that if Boston and its social life could be picked up and put down in San Francisco’s bay, the result would be her perfect US town. 


Kat’s friends arranged quite a few trips out of town for her and Miss Greenlow.  They went to Telegraph Hill and the Presidio barracks and Kat loved the views over the Bay and the Golden Gate.  They went by carriage through the Golden Gate park to Cliff House, Seal Rock and Sutro Heights.  They went to Piedmont and Alameda and Kat advised her readers to leave enough time for these longer trips out of town.  She did note two drawbacks to life in San Francisco though – the fog and the fires.  She was alarmed by the number of times she was woken up in the night by fire alarms, but found her hosts quite accustomed to them. She went to see the fire brigade’s daily march and was shown around their quarters.  She was impressed by its efficiency but realised that it must be the result of the amount of practice the firemen got. 


Kat’s hosts took her and Miss Greenlow on a walk through Chinatown, and although Kat got fed up with continually having to climb up and down stairs and steps to see into the buildings, she was intrigued by what she saw.  Kat and her group investigated Chinatown’s theatre, including behind the stage; they went into a lodging-house and saw its Confucian altar; they went into a restaurant (they didn’t eat there!) where customers were drinking “rice whisky” with “beetle nut and cocoa nut...with a sort of cabbage leaf...for chewing”; and stuck their heads into an opium den – whose inhabitants were not as comatose as Kat had expected.  Kat soon began to notice how few women there were in Chinatown and – being Kat – she asked her host and hostess why not.  She was told that those she did see were slaves, there was a busy trafficking market in Chinese women, who fetched very high prices. 


Kat and Miss Greenlow’s visit to San Francisco happened to coincide with a month-long spiritualist summer camp.  They spent one Sunday at the camp, listening to the speakers, including a Mr Colville who said he would speak on a subject chosen by his audience.  On a show of hands, the chosen topic was ‘harmony’ and Kat was impressed by the way Colville spoke extempore for 15 minutes on it. 


Kat and Miss Greenlow also spent one afternoon in The Olympic Club“devouring illustrated English papers after our long fast from English news”. 


Source for Kat in and around San Francisco: GR2 pp129-141.

Comments by Sally Davis: though Kat got fed up with fog, she really appreciated the San Francisco climate after the draining heat of Arizona, New Mexico and Los Angeles.  It was hot, but not unbearably so, and Kat couldn’t understand why the residents complained about the afternoon breezes – to her they were a real treat. 

No Golden Gate Bridge of course, when Kat was visiting San Francisco – that wasn’t opened until 1937.  See its wikipedia page and for the Bridge, which replaced a ferry that had been running in one form or another since 1820.

See their wikipedia pages and for Telegraph Hill and the Presidio, both now National Parks.  When Kat visited the Presidio it was a barracks; the land was made a national park as late as 1994 – 1500 acres at the southern end of the Golden Gate Bridge.

On Cliff House and Sutro Heights.  The 22-acre Sutro estate, now a National Park, was owned when Kat visited it by Adolph Sutro (1830-98), a German-born and trained engineer who made one fortune between 1860 and 1880 building the Sutro Tunnel, to take gas and water out of the Comstock Lode silver mines in Nevada; and a second in the 1880s and 1890s by investing in San Francisco real estate.  In 1881 Sutro built the Cliff House Kat saw but apparently didn’t visit.  It was the second  Cliff House to occupy the site; it was badly damaged in 1887 and Sutro began rebuilding it in 1896.  Kat was a bit too early to be able to visit Sutro’s aquarium – that opened in 1887. 

Sources for Sutro and his estate: his wikipedia page; //; the wiki on the Sutro Historic District, at which his name is spelled Adolf; and for the Sutro Tunnel.

See the wiki pages in wikipedia for Alameda and Piedmont, in Alameda county, south of Oakland.   +


On Chinatown: see the wikipedia pages on the Areca nut and the betel nut for what Kat saw the guests eating in the Chinese restaurant she visited: an Areca nut is cut up, wrapped in a leaf of the Piper betle tree, with a touch of slaked lime added, with spices and other additions; then you chew it.  I don’t think Kat means that cocoa was added to the preparation – that’s just her odd spelling!  When my partner Roger Wright was researching betel nut for me, for this paragraph, he found that the Chinese sometimes put flakes of coconut into the mix; and tobacco leaves as well or instead.  The drink that Kat was told was rice whisky was probably shaojiu, which can be distilled from rice or sorghum; it looks and tastes like vodka.


Kat’s main informants on the working conditions of the Chinese in America, were her hostess and her hostess’s friends, who all employed them as house servants, preferring them to the Irish.


On the spiritualist summer camp and Mr Colville.  It was organised by the Association of California Spiritualists and took place in a number of tents set up by Lake Merritt in Oakland.  It opened on 7 June 1886 and lasted several weeks.  Colville gave talks on 19 and 27 June 1886; not the off-the-cuff responses that Kat heard but subjects he had prepared in advance: Where and What is Heaven?, and Where and What is Hell?, on the 19th; and How are the Dead Raised up, and With What Bodies do they come?, on the 26th.  


I think it’s good evidence for Kat not being active in London’s spiritualist social life before the late 1880s, that she doesn’t seem to have heard of W J Colville in 1886.  Issues of the London magazine The Spiritualist during 1877 show the rise to English prominence of trance-speaker William Juvenal Colville.  He was touring the USA on the spiritualist lecture circuit in 1885 and 1886 – Light had several reports on his progress.  In fact, he seems to have been in Los Angeles when Kat and Miss Greenlow were, in May-June 1886, though Kat doesn’t mention coming across him there.  Light volume 5 1885 pi of the issue of Sat 1 August 1885 had an advert from him in its small ads section; that he was now back “at home” at 16 York Street where he worked as a healer and in the development of spiritual will-power.  On p383, issue of 8 August 1885 there was an announcement that he would be giving a series of lectures at the Cavendish Rooms, before moving on to Paris and northern England.


I couldn’t find any biographical information on him – there’s no wikipedia page, for example.  The British Library catalogue gives his dates as 1862-1917.   The BL has quite a few books by Colville, falling into two groups, date-wise: a group from 1884 to 1886 including one on Atlantis; and another batch around the beginning of the first World War; with relatively few in between.  There are a couple of novels, but most of Colville’s books are about spiritualism and theosophy, with the later batch focusing on spiritual therapeutics – actually the title of a book he published in 1912.  Though there’s no indication in GR2 that Kat actually met Colville in 1886 I imagine she was acquainted with him later and she probably read Colville’s The People’s Handbook of Spiritual Science published 1902, as she wrote several works on the same subject herself.

Sources for the camp:

At //, the California Digital Newpaper Collection, Daily Alta California volume 40 number 13433 issue of Mon 7 June 1886 p1. 

At, the Oakland Tribune issue of Sat 26 June 1886 p4.

At there are reproductions of four articles by Ellet J Waggoner, published in 1887 as The Spirit of Antichrist.  The second of the four is a denunciation of spiritualism on the grounds that it denies the existence of God; it refers specifically to the lecture Colville gave at the Oakland camp on 19 June 1886.  See also // which says the second of the four denunciations was originally published in volume 13 number 46, issue of December 1887 though I’m not quite sure what the magazine title was.

Sources for W J Colville: not many but I saw his books on sale via sites like abebooks and at there is a copy of his autobiography, Universal Spiritualism published by R F Fenno and Co of 18 East 17th Street New York in 1906: pp28-29 in which he relates an incidence of miraculous healing which occurred at the end of one of his talks at the camp. 


On the Olympic Club, which still exists, see its wikipedia page and its website at  Founded in 1860, it is the oldest athletic club in the USA.  The club house Kat and Miss Greenlow spent the afternoon in was in Union Square; it was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake.  It was a men’s club, of course; I suppose Kat and Miss Greenlow’s host was a member but I still don’t quite understand how they were allowed into the Club’s reading room.  He must have been very persuasive!



Kat and Miss Greenlow began a roundabout journey to Yellowstone by going along the Pacific coast from San Francisco to Victoria British Columbia via Port Townsend, on the SS Queen of the Pacific.  The town of Victoria did not impress Kat – she called it “small, scattered and dusty-looking” but she loved its situation -“beautiful knolls and curves of green land covered with firs” and the views across across to Washington State, Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains, “more beautiful than I can describe; such an endless vista of palest blue, purple and azure!...all though they belonged in reality to the skies, from which they would seem to have dropped...the very essence of poetical feeling and imagination”.  The town was full of people on their way to Alaska so Kat and Miss Greenlow had their usual trouble finding a place to stay.  They hired a carriage and took one drive around the town and then up to Beacon Hill; and another along to the cemetery where they saw the remains of a grand Chinese funeral that had taken place the previous day.  The views from Beacon Hill were so lovely that they returned on foot the following day. 


Lying down for a rest that day, Kat had a vision of birds flying round in front of her, the first of a series of visions she saw over the next few years.

Source: GR2 pp142-151.  S/U p33 for a later and rather different account, and the story of the swallows.

Comments by Sally Davis: three different sets of acquaintances in California had told Kat and Miss Greenlow not to bother with Victoria and Puget Sound – the Sound was nothing but water; and Victoria could only be of interest to people in the lumber business.  They decided to ignore the advice and were glad they did so, despite reaching Victoria during its busiest time of year.  The short summer was when people went to Alaska if they went at all. 


Kat gives two slightly different accounts of Kat and Miss Greenlow’s first few hours in Victoria, though they both begin with them going ashore at 6 in the morning and being pleased to find themselves in British Columbia -“quite upon British ground once more”.  The account in GR2 is the earlier of the two.  In it, they spent their first few hours sitting on their luggage in the corridors of what Kat said was the town’s “one decent hotel”, the “Driad” [Driard] hoping that some rooms would be vacated (eventually one – but not two – became available).  Knowing they had very little time to see the town, in the afternoon they stopped trying to harrass the hotel management and went out on their first drive instead, only to be refused entry to the naval yard, “much to our indignation, as British subjects”.  Kat was not consoled by their driver’s offer of a tour round a British naval ship in the harbour – she’d seen all that kind of thing before.  She had noticed a five-masted “wonderful old craft” in the harbour and would have preferred to go aboard that.  That wasn’t allowed, it would appear, because they continued on their carriage drive, through lanes of honeysuckle and sweetbriar, past the Hudson Bay Company’s original settlement and mill, and the house of governor Sir James Douglas who had – Kat reminded her readers – married an Indian woman.  Lady Douglas was still living in the town as a “much respected widow”, Kat went on; but she did not mention having called on her, so I suppose she didn’t.  Kat suggested to those of her readers who wanted to visit Victoria to do so between June and September, despite how busy the town was then: the days were very hot, but the evenings made up for that by being long and cool. 


The second account of Kat’s arrival in Victoria was published in 1908 – a good twenty years after the first.  In this version Kat doesn’t say there were no rooms available at the Driard Hotel and doesn’t mention the drive around the town.  She says that though they wanted a room each, one was available so they took it, and went to lie down for a while to recover from “tempestuous” seas in the Juán de Fuca Strait.  While they were lying there, Kat had saw an “indistinct blur” just above her head, which gradually took the shape of “six little swallows ...apparently a waving ribbon”.  The vision didn’t disappear when Kat shut her eyes.  At first, Kat agreed with Miss Greenlow’s suggestion that it was “the effects of liver” after their rough crossing, but sixth months later, she saw the swallows again while going across Blackheath Common; and after those two appearances they returned from time to time over the years.  As Kat got older, the visions she had became more elaborate – an anchor and chain, an altar with flames, a mirror, a staff – probably inspired by her time in the GD, which she joined in 1891.


I think that it was during their short stay in Victoria that Kat and Miss Greenlow made up their minds to take the boat up to Alaska and back one day soon - GR2 shows that while they were there, they had started to make calculations and enquiries about such a trip.  Kat told her readers that she had been pleasantly surprised by how low her daily living expenses were on the trip up from San Francisco.  And July and August, she wrote, were the best times for making the trip - even June (she had discovered) was often very cold.  They made the trip themselves in August-September 1888.  I made up my mind to take the ferry to Alaska when Roger and I were in Seattle in the 1980s (no one mentioned Microsoft!); I still haven’t done it though!

Other sources for Victoria British Columbia: the wikipedia pages of both Victoria and British Columbia, as I was confused about Kat’s seeming to imply that BC was not yet part of Canada in 1886.  I may have misunderstood her, but in any case BC had been made the sixth province of Canada in 1871, with Victoria its capital since 1866. 

For the Driard Hotel, whose name Kat got wrong.  At there’s information that it first existed as a hotel in 1862, on the south-east corner of View Street and Broad Streets.  At //, item B-09369 is a photograph from 1888 of the block containing both the Driard Hotel and the Victoria Theatre.

For James Douglas (1803-77) known as the Father of British Columbia, see his wikipedia page, and  Douglas started out his working life with the North West Company, which merged with the Hudson Bay Company in 1821.  He rose through the ranks to the highest managerial position the Company had.  In 1843 he supervised the building of Fort Victoria and was the obvious candidate to be the first governor of the colony of Vancouver Island, a job he held from 1851 to 1864.  In 1858 he became the first governor of the colony of British Columbia; and stayed in that post until his retirement in 1864.  He was knighted in 1863.

I think Kat had a certain contempt for Sir James Douglas’ for marrying his wife Amelia; and she also got it wrong about Lady Douglas’ First Nations’ heritage.  In 1828 James Douglas married the daughter of his boss at the Hudson Bay Company, William Connolly.  Connolly was British but his wife was a member of the Cree nation, so Amelia was métis – that is, able to trace her ancestry back to one of Canada’s Indian tribes. 



Kat and Miss Greenlow went from Victoria to Tacoma, Washington state, via Port Townsend Washingon by steamer; a trip which took about 17 hours.  The water was rough in the Juán de Fuca Strait and after an hour of looking at the view, they both went to lay down in their cabin.  It was calmer in Puget Sound and they were able to appreciate Mount Baker “bathed in glorious pink” after sunset, and the lovely fir-tree covered islands “rising up so golden green from the dark blue waters”.  The boat docked at Tacoma at 6am and Kat and Miss Greenwood went straight to the train to Portland, in heat that was “intense”, staring at “endless woods with short undergrowth of brack” with the odd farm in a clearing.  At the Columbia River the whole train was put onto a ferry to cross to the Oregon side.  Lunch was available in the dining car but by the time Kat and Miss Greenlow took their seats there, the food was running out.  The service at lunch was “wretched” and the heat in the car“like a cucumber frame”. 


The train reached Portland - “a busy, thriving and perfectly uninteresting American city” - in the early afternoon.  Kat and Miss Greenlow found a hotel (which Kat didn’t name) that boasted French cuisine, which Kat felt was “not, perhaps, all that the fancy of the manager painted it”.  It was so hot and the streets were so dusty that they only left the hotel to go and book train tickets to Yellowstone; though that outing took them into Portland’s Chinatown, where they watched a funeral going by. 


Kat and Miss Greenlow went by steamer along the Columbia River as far as The Dalles: a trip of 11-12 hours and involving a short train trip around the rapids.  Despite temperatures of 105°F in the shade, Kat found the Columbia River livng up to people’s accounts of it, the river not so wide you couldn’t see the far side, and the backdrop completed by Mount Hood and  the Cascades,“a chain of exquisitely tinted blue and purple mountains in the distance”; though the waterfalls – she thought – could not compete with those of Yosemite. 


Arriving at The Dalles in the early evening, they had a three-hour wait for the train from Portland to “Livingstone” [Livingston Montana].  The trip took two “suffocating” nights and the day in between, through “dreary, monotonous stretches of tufted grass”; they did pass two lakes but Kat found them “more immense than picturesque”.  At Livingston they left most of their heavy luggage behind and took a branch line to Cinnabar, where there was “no station, only a wooden shed”.  The rest of the journey had to be made by stage coach, another “jolting journey over rocks and mud”, but at its end was the entrance to Yellowstone, “Black, bare hills...and a dreary expanse of bog and mud”, and the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel which was “new, barely opened and still smelling strongly of plaster and whitewash”.


Source for the route Kat and Miss Greenlow took: GR2 pp151-164.

Comments by Sally Davis:

It’s a pity Kat and Miss Greenlow didn’t have a chance to get out at Port Townsend.  I think Kat would have liked it - it has the loveliest clapperboard houses in different colours.  I’m sorry she didn’t like the Multnomah Falls; I thought they were rather impressive.  And I loved Portland – though of course it had had about 100 years to grow and decide to be ecological and produce lovely gardens since Kat had been there.  Keep Portland weird and hallo to my friend there!

Kat and Miss Greenlow travelled on the Northern Pacific Railroad (NP) from Tacoma to Livingston.  The company had been authorised and given land grants by Congress as early as 1864 but successive companies under-estimated the difficulties – and therefore the costs – of building in the states west of the NP’s headquarters in Minnesota; so there were delays, bankruptcies, and takeovers.  At least the trains had dining cars! - Kat and Miss Greenlow had been promised them by so many American railroad companies but had only taken three journeys in which the train actually had one. 


The point about Livingston Montana was that it was the nearest big station to Yellowstone National Park.  The NP had reached Livingston in 1883, and the number of tourists visiting the Park was increasing; though from a very low base – unlike Kat and Miss Greenlow, most people were still put off by the long and exhausting journey to get there.  Kat didn’t mention going through any towns on the journey from The Dalles, but the two lakes that didn’t impress her - Coeur d’Alène and Pend Oreille (she spelled them both wrongly in GR2) – are both in that finger of Idaho that goes up to the border with Canada; so they must have passed through Spokane, Missoula, Anaconda, Butte and Bozeman. 


As usual during her travels, Kat watched her fellow travellers as much as the scenery, and chatted to them too.  There was a nun looking after three small children – which made Kat reflect on how cruel and unnatural life it was for a women to enter a convent who should have been a wife and mother.  There was an American who had spent eight years in England and more in Europe “and had consequently lost his Yankee prejudices”; a Prussian doctor; and an Englishman resident in New York for thirty years who – Kat found – was “more bitterly prejudiced against his fatherland than any foreigner could be”, so she “left him and his Anglophobia alone”.  I’d say that – as also evidenced by Lady Douglas – Kat was managing to hold on to her own prejudices pretty well despite travel supposedly broadening the mind.  They were challenged, though, by an American she chatted to – when the jolting allowed speech – on the stage  coach into Yellowstone.  He had lived with Indian tribes so his view of them - the most positive Kat had heard – carried weight with her; but he told her that the arrival of the railway, and the changes it brought, had left them drunk and lacking all self-respect, dependent on government handouts.  He didn’t change Kat’s mind about them, but he did make her wonder which of the various opinions she’d heard was nearest to the truth, and to realise that as an outsider, it was impossible for her to know.



For NP: its wikipedia page.  In 1873 NP had chosen Tacoma to be the end of its line to Puget Sound; which is why Kat and Miss Greenlow’s steamer from Victoria went there rather than Seattle.  And its own website at

I haven’t been able to find much information on the hotel building Kat and Miss Greenlow stayed in in 1886; plenty of web pages on tourism at Yellowstone mention a hotel and cabins with the same name that were built in the 1930s.



Unlike most of their fellow passengers on the stage into Yellowstone, Kat and Miss Greenlow took it easy on their first few days there, spending a lot of time on the hotel verandah watching the clouds.  They began their exploration of the Park with a series of strolls along the Minerva Terraces to the left of the hotel.  Kat found the terraces “disppointing”, on the whole, although she thought the colours of the rocks and the hot pools were beautiful, and the hot steam very dramatic against the thunder clouds that came most afternoons.


 After three days of tough negotiations with the man who had the monopoly on horses and wagons at Yellowstone, Kat and Miss Greenlow reached agreement with him on the hire of a buckboard - a“diminutive spring cart” - for several days to go further into the Park. 


On their first morning in the cart they went to the Norris geyser basin via the Golden Gate – rocks covered in yellow lichen – Bunsen’s Peak, some obsidian cliffs and the Swan, Myrtle and Mineral Lakes.  They arrived at lunchtime, in time to share a picnic with some acquaintances from the wagon journey into Yellowstone.  They stayed overnight at Norris in a wooden hut with ceilings made of brown paper tacked to the rafters.  On the second day their buckboard followed the Gibbon River through its canyon and went on a “stiff climb” to a place with a good view of the Gibbon Falls.  After a “very bad dinner” at the Lower Geyser Basin they pressed through to Hell’s Half Acre – more beautiful than its name suggested – and the Prismatic Lake to the Upper Geyser Basin, where Kat learned that some of its most famous geysers were particularly quiet at the moment.  They booked themselves into the Upper Geyser Inn and sat on its verandah watching Old Faithful.  Their third day was spent investigating the geysers and driving to Specimen Lake where the geyser known as Splendid “absolutely refused to go off for our satisfaction” though after dinner both the Castle and the Oblong geysers obliged them.  They took a short trip through meadows of Yellowstone Gentian, aconites and lupins to see the boiling mud known as the Paint Pots and on their way back, the geyser called Fountain went off “in clouds of diamond drops”. 


The next day, Kat and Miss Greenlow did a “terrible” drive over The Divide to the Yellowstone Canyon, along a road full of fallen trees and rocks that Kat thought was cruel to the horses.  They stayed the night at Yellowstone Falls in the Falls Inn and spent the following morning braving the mosquitoes to see the Upper Fall.  Then they went on horse back along the Yellowstone grand canyon, past the Lower Fall to Look Out Point and Inspiration Point.  Kat was astonished at the variety of colour and the fantastic shapes in the rocks, trees and sky.  Although a trip to Yellowstone Lake was available, Kat and Miss Greenlow decided against taking it.  They also didn’t go over Mount Washbourne to the inn at Jancy’s and – hearing the accounts of fellow travellers who did take that trip – Kat was thankful they hadn’t had time for it.  Instead, they spent another day at Yellowstone Falls and and then took their buckboard back via the Norris Geyser Basin to the Mammoth Hot Springs hotel, where Kat watched, intridgued, as a large party of deaf and dumb tourists talked to each other with their hands all through dinner.

Source for Kat in Yellowstone: GR2 pp165-195 including some information for her readers on the Park’s geology; how geysers work; how the Park came into existence (pp165-69); on rights to hunt, shoot and fish in the Park; and on how money works in the Park (through letters of credit).  She advised readers of GR2 who might be thinking of going to Yellowstone not to do what too many tourists did and rush around the Park in a few days.  A fortnight at least was necessary to do all the Park’s wonders justice. 


Kat’s sources for the geology included publications by “Bunsen” and the personal experience of a Dr Halcock, whom she had met in Washington DC.  Bunsen is Robert Wilhelm Eberhard Bunsen the chemist (1811-99); see his wikipedia page and, for example, for his varied contributions to 19th century science.  In 1846 he made a trip to Iceland to study volcanic activity.  I haven’t been able to identify Kat’s Dr Halcock, though she describes him (p167) as “the great Yellowstone authority”; I think his name might be one of Kat’s spelling mistakes.


Comments by Sally Davis: by the time she and Miss Greenlow reached Yellowstone, Kat was really fed up with Appleton’s guide.  She would have liked information about facilities within the Park – for example, could you hire a horse and carriage? - but her Appleton was “sublimely above detail, recommending, in a general sort of way, ‘camping out and fishing and hunting!’”  I think no one from Appleton’s had set foot in Yellowstone National Park when Kat’s guide was written.


Though she was glad to see Yellowstone’s scenery, Kat soon began to flag.  She also began to realise – not for the first time in the west of the USA – that to be a pioneer of tourism had its drawbacks.  The Park boasted a telephone system between its various inns but when Kat and Miss Greenlow used this new technology to book rooms in advance, they found when they arrived anywhere, that no one had passed on their messages.  Food in the Park was sent out to the inns from a central depot; it was “always cold...greasy and generally uneatable...we were reduced to living entirely on bread and butter”.  The inns had been built quickly and poorly and were already not large enough for the number of summer tourists.  The roads were bad. 


One thing Kat doesn’t mention having seen in Yellowstone is any animals other than examples of Homo sapiens.  Perhaps other species were already learning to keep out of the way of humans.  Very wise of them.


Kat knew that the problems of logistics and infrastructure at Yellowstone would be sorted out in time.  Other difficulties were more intractable.  Kat had trouble breathing at the Park’s higher altitudes and found sleeping at such heights difficult as well.   The Upper Geyser Inn was full of flying beetles and moths.  And everywhere they went, there were mosquitoes and horse flies.  Kat began to feel that geysers were all very well, but once you had seen one go off, you had seen them all.  The Yellowstone Grand Canyon was all it was cracked up to be, though.




20 April 2018



Find the web pages of Roger Wright and Sally Davis, including my list of people initiated into the Order of the Golden Dawn between 1888 and 1901, at: