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Yellowstone officials cleaning up after a major storm near Lake Yellowstone

Witnesses say about seven large pines fell against the roof of the building addition of Lake Hotel.
Witnesses say about seven large pines fell against the roof of the building addition of Lake Hotel.

Yellowstone National Park officials say a major storm blew down hundreds of trees near lake Yellowstone. Some of those trees damaged part of the park’s oldest hotel: Lake Hotel.

Cleanup continues now, and will continue for days and weeks ahead.

Monday, July 3, a short powerful storm blew down hundreds of trees in the park near Yellowstone Lake.

Witnesses say about seven large pines fell against the roof of the building addition of Lake Hotel. It is only 120 years old. It was built by Old Faithful Inn creator Robert Reamer in 1903. The original Lake Hotel was built in 1891, years before Old Faithful was built in 1904.

A member of the Lake Hotel historic restoration crew is Sam Taggart.

“We were on site here at Sandpiper maybe fifteen minutes after it happened. They were moving guests out of the building,” Taggart sai.

Miraculously no one was hurt. The storm also hit the Fishing Bridge road nearby.

Old Faithful historic restoration crew member Nisar Akbany said he was driving back to the park from Cody, and was near the Fishing Bridge when, “The winds were up to 60 miles an hour. My car felt like it was going to fly off the road.”

The two men will help repair the hotel and damaged cabins nearby.

“The damage to the building was significant. It’s kind of shocking to see that kind of damage happen so quickly,” Taggart said.

Park spokeswoman Carol Quinn said the trees that fell were lodge pole pines, which grow in the volcanic soil left by the supervolcano.

Quinn said the storm also hit Storm Point Trail, south of Fishing Bridge, so crews with chain saws are working a mile from the road.

She said they will, “remove hazard trees, which are trees which have the potential of falling down on the trail, but also to remove trees that are covering the trail right now.”

Xanterra is the concessionaire operating Lake Hotel. Although they may have to replace the entire roof on this section, and nearby cabins, spokesman Rick Hoeninghausen has seen worse.

“It’s not as bad as it could have been. Minimal impact to visitors and guests,” Hoeninghausen said.

And, the good news is, some of the downed trees will help repair other historical park structures.

“We have the preservation crew from Old Faithful here, and they’re getting logs they need for necessary repairs on Old Faithful Inn. And we have material we can use on Lake Lodge and other buildings in the Park,” Taggart said.

When Penny Preston came to Cody, Wyoming, in 1998, she was already an award winning broadcast journalist, with big market experience. She had anchored in Dallas, Denver, Nashville, Tulsa, and Fayetteville. She’s been a news director in Dallas and Cody, and a bureau chief in Fayetteville, AR. She’s won statewide awards for her television and radio stories in Arkansas, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, and Wyoming. Her stories also air on CBS, NBC, NBC Today Show, and CNN network news.
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