... A courier came from General Howard directing us to ... make our way to Yellowstone Falls. Obeying orders, we passed over a high plateau of easy going [Hayden Valley].... Suddenly, we came up to a full stop on a timbered ridge that extended toward the river. Medium sized pine trees grew here. We took a survey of the whole situation and came to the conclusion that the only way to get down was to take a jump of some five hundred feet. Someone suggested to prepare a slide and go downhill like a beaver. The pines were not thick and the ground was smooth, although about as steep as the roof of an ordinary house. We picked out a place that looked most suitable for our descent and commenced clearing a roadway
We had with us a very large rope - one hundred feet long - for emergency cases and were now all ready to "go". The crowd called out, "Here, Buck, you take the lead and if you can make it we will try it" One end of the rope was fastened to the hind axle of my wagon then two turns were made around a substantial tree, with several men holding onto the end of the rope so that the wagon could not get away, they payed it out as fast as the descent was made. Nothing daunting, I climbed up into my spring seat and gathered up the lines-not even taking off my leaders.
I made the start downward and nearly stood up straight on the foot rest of the wagon, it was so steep. Slowly and carefully we went the length of the rope when a halt was called, and with the aid of a short rope made fast to the hind axle and securely tied to another tree, we then loosened the long rope and came down and made another two turns around a nearby tree and was then ready for a second drive; thence a third and so on until the bottom was reached in safety.
The rope was then carried up the hill and another teamster took courage to try his luck and his wagon too, was landed at the bottom of the hill.
|A cutting from one of the tree rope burns later found its way into a park museum.
By 1988 only one of the trees used was still alive.