Wednesday, 26 May 2010

The Old Faithful Inn, Yellowstone

tWe've just completed a 3 night stay at the Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone National Park. The inn was built in 1903 by the Northern Pacific Railroad company to the design of 29 year-old architect Robert Reamer. It's a beautiful building and is the first example of, and blueprint for the National Park Service Rustic architectural style, otherwise known as Parkitechture. Robert Reamers rather inspired vision was that the building should seem to have sprung up from the ground, as if it had grown rather than been built. You can see this below in the use of lodge pole pine for the entirety of the lobby.

(Thanks to Kev for the loan of his 10-20mm for the above shot)

We stayed in the "new" west wing, added by Reamer in 1927 in room 4058 and a definite highlight of our stay was taking the hotel tour. The tour runs daily at 09:30 and 11:00 and we were guided by the excellent Mary. Mary was filled with fascinating facts and anecdotes, but the one which struck me the most was hearing about the hotel in Winter.

The hotel opens in early May (weather permitting) and closes in mid-October. When the hotel closes, all the soft furnishing are placed into storage, all the doors are locked and the windows are boarded. The electricity is switched off and the entire hotel sits out the winter cold and empty.

Yellowstone is full of seasonal staff from all over the place (I wish I'd done a season somewhere 10 years ago, you can apply for Yellowstone here) and although the Old Faithful Inn is closed throughout winter, the adjacent (and recent, completed in 1999) Old Faithful Snow Lodge is open through the winter and staffed by a hardcore breed of seasonal worker. I say hardcore because the weather is freezing, there's no TV and limited internet and travel is by either skis, snowmobile or snowcoach.

As Mary tells it, this year the Snow Lodge staff were given a special treat; the front door to the frozen Old Faithful Inn was unlocked for one night, and just enough electricity was turned on to power a projector. No heating or lighting was turned on and staff were instructed to turn up just before midnight, wearing all their clothes and bedding. With all the furniture in storage they sat on the floor to watch their cinematic treat.

What did their employer choose to show them as they sat freezing, in a cold, dark and deserted remote hotel? Have you twigged it yet? Of course they got to watch The Shining. Amazing scenes.

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