Yellowstone, Land of Wonders


Yellowstone, Land of Wonders

Promenade in North America's National Park

Jules Leclercq
Translated and edited by Janet Chapple and Suzanne Cane
Foreword by Lee H. Whittlesey

288 pages
44 illustrations, 3 maps


May 2013


$36.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)

April 2020


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eBook (PDF)

May 2013


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About the Book

In the summer of 1883 Belgian travel writer Jules Leclercq spent ten days on horseback in Yellowstone, the world’s first national park, exploring myriad natural wonders: astonishing geysers, majestic waterfalls, the vast lake, and the breathtaking canyon. He also recorded the considerable human activity, including the rampant vandalism. Leclercq’s account of his travels is itself a small marvel blending natural history, firsthand impressions, scientific lore, and anecdote. Along with his observations on the park’s long-rumored fountains of boiling water and mountains of glass, Leclercq describes camping near geysers, washing clothes in a bubbling hot spring, and meeting such diverse characters as local guides and tourists from the United States and Europe. Notables including former president Ulysses S. Grant and then-president Chester A. Arthur were also in the park that summer to inaugurate the newly completed leg of the Northern Pacific Railroad.

A sensation in Europe, the book was never published in English. This deft translation at long last makes available to English-speaking readers a masterpiece of western American travel writing that is a fascinating historical document in its own right.

Author Bio

Jules Leclercq (1848–1928), who wrote twenty-three travelogues, was a judge by profession and a founding member of the Royal Belgian Geographical Society. Janet Chapple is the author of Yellowstone Treasures: The Traveler’s Companion to the National Park. Suzanne Cane is a librarian and independent French translator.


“What a delightful discovery this book is. Jules Leclercq is the kind of writer we love to travel with—enthusiastic, energetic, observant, curious, and companionable. Janet Chapple and Suzanne Cane have produced a splendid translation and well-researched edition.”—Robert Root, author of Postscripts: Retrospections on Time and Place

“This lost jewel by an overlooked but wonderful explorer reads like a Jules Verne novel and is astonishing in its poetic descriptions of the raw nature of Yellowstone in the nineteenth century. A beautiful, evocative work on those early days in the American wilderness, it is like a literary Ansel Adams.” —Peter Schulman, translator, author, and professor at Old Dominion University

"Any nature scholar interested in provenance or the origins of the naming of landscapes will find in Janet Chapple and Suzanne Cane's translation a welcome addition to the genre."—Foreword Reviews

"This deft translation at long last makes available to English-speaking readers a masterpiece of western American travel writing that is a fascinating historical document in its own right."—Christopher Lewis, Dad of Divas

"[Yellowstone, Land of Wonders is] a lovely translation . . . perfect for American history, natural history, or travel collections alike."—Midwest Book Review

"Meticulously edited, with very good notes, this well-made book is both scholarly and easy to read."—Lois D. Atwood, Providence Journal

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations 
Foreword by Lee H. Whittlesey 
Translators' Introduction 
Translation and Editorial Method 
A Note on the Illustrators 
Yellowstone, Land of Wonders: Promenade in North America's National Park 

 Chapter I. The Land of Wonders 
 Chapter II. The First Explorations 
 Chapter III. From the Mississippi to the Yellowstone 
 Chapter IV. The Upper Yellowstone 
 Chapter V. Mammoth Springs 
 Chapter VI. The Gibbon River 
 Chapter VII. The First Geysers 
 Chapter VIII. The Firehole 
 Chapter IX. Old Faithful 
 Chapter X. Beehive and Giantess 
 Chapter XI. Along the Firehole 
 Chapter XII. Land of Wonders and Land of Ice 
 Chapter XIII. Theory of Geysers 
 Chapter XIV. Excelsior 
 Chapter XV. The Indians in the National Park 
 Chapter XVI. Yellowstone Lake 
 Chapter XVII. Remarks on Fishing and Hunting 
 Chapter XVIII. Sulphur Mountain 
 Chapter XIX. The Falls of the Yellowstone 
 Chapter XX. Mount Washburn 
 Works to Consult 

Translators' Bibliography 

Also of Interest