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Audio Transcript

Ranger/Naturalist Sally Plumb relates a bit of Yellowstone folklore to Yellowstone Ecology Institute participants at Mammoth Hot Springs

Ranger Plumb: "Far to the east of here in a place that would someday become known as Billings, Montana, they meet a group of Native Americans. The Native Americans talk about this strange country to the west. They call it "Mi tsi a da zi." Well, we know enough of their language to be able to translate that into the "River of the Yellow Rock." And sure enough there is a big river that is flowing by and there’s yellow cliffs. But the Native Americans say that this river flows out of this strange country and if you follow it back towards its headwaters, you’ll find that the earth trembles at times… that water shoots straight up out of the ground… that it looks like there are places where smoke comes out of the side of mountains. Well you don’t really know if you believe it, but you decide the trapping might be good. So you’re going to follow this river of yellow rock back towards its headwaters. Well you walk for miles and miles and all of a sudden you encounter something that looks like that, in front of you. And so if you’re really good with two hundreds years ago and you didn’t really expect to see anything, what are some of the thoughts that might be going through your heads?"

Participant: "Fire real fire"

Ranger Plumb: "Sure"

Participant:" Run! Run!"

Ranger Plumb: " Yeah, Exactly, you might be thinking that. If you are as dirty and grungy as I described you might wondering…"

Participant:"Its a bath…a hot bath"

Ranger Plumb: "Or you might be wondering is it dangerous? Or you might sniff and go "what, what is that?"

Participant:"What’s that smell?"

Ranger Plumb: "Yes, Exactly. What? What is that smell? We have had about two hundred years to figure out what that is and what that smell is. And the dangers, and so today we think we know what causes it. And Mother Nature puts together four ingredients to form something like the hot springs that you are seeing here, and some of these are pretty inherently obvious. Can any of you think of any of those?"

Participant:"Water"

Ranger Plumb: "Sure, water, heat"

Participant:"Pressure"

Ranger Plumb: "Okay, The right kind of rock or we’ll say the right kind of plumbing system in the rock. And that actually is both, the right kind of rock and right kind of plumbing system. See how you guys got it. I always tell the kids again (but you guys won’t have this advantage) that they can cheat if they forget the plumbing system just by looking at my name."

Participants laugh

Ranger Plumb: "And when I ask the kids, (I quiz them at the end of the talk) and I can see them leaning forward and trying to read my name."

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