Old Yellowstone: House of Antlers

The National Park Service has always had a mixed mission when it comes to Yellowstone National Park: needing to preserve the unique features of the Park while at the same time doing things to draw in visitors. Today, when 3 million people visit Yellowstone in a single year, it’s easy to see why the current mission stresses preservation so heavily.

But in the early days of the Park, attracting visitors was much more of a priority. The facilities were actually more extensive than today when it comes to hotels and lodgers, and the amenities more pronounced. And Park officials weren’t adverse to throwing up a tourist attraction or two to draw in the visitors.

Enter the House of Antlers, located directly across from the Albright Museum in Mammoth. Here’s the listing from the 1930 Haynes Guide:

The House of Horns built wholly of horns and antlers by [Chief Ranger] Sam T. Woodring in 1928, interests thousands of park visitors. The moose shed their antlers in December and January, the antelope shed the outer sheath of their horns in December, the elk shed in February and March, and the deer in January and February.

Later Haynes Guides refer to the structure as the Antler House; as you can tell from the postcard above it was also referred to as the House of Antlers.

Considering the transitory nature of antlers in nature, the Antler House enjoyed a long existence, through 1963. It was dismantled by Park officials who worried that it would encourage visitors to take home antlers found in the wild.

Collection 1507: Frank Jay Haynes Family Photographs and Papers, 1866-1969; Montana State University Libraries Digital Collections.

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