The History of Old Faithful

One of the most popular attractions in the United States, Old Faithful is a majestic cone geyser situated in Yellowstone National Park. People come from all over the world for Yellowstone guided tours so they can view the wondrous eruption of Old Faithful; however, not many know the geyser’s extensive history.

Read on if you’re interested in learning about the landmark that’s become a staple of American culture.

Old Faithful’s discovery

Old Faithful was discovered on September 18, 1870 by members of the Washburn Expedition. It was the first geyser discovered in Yellowstone National Park and gets its name because of the frequency at which it erupts. One of the explorers, Nathaniel P. Langford, wrote about this during the expedition.

“It spouted at regular intervals nine times during our stay, the columns of boiling water being thrown from 90 to 125 feet at each discharge, which lasted from 15 to 20 minutes,” said Langford. “We gave it the name of ‘Old Faithful.’”

Before Old Faithful became a popular tourist attraction, people would use the geyser to wash their clothes. They would place their dirty clothes in the crater and wait for an eruption. This process thoroughly cleaned clothes made from cotton, but the eruption would completely destroy clothes made from wool.

More about the geyser

Since its discovery, Old Faithful has erupted more than one million times. While some people claim the geyser erupts once an hour, it actually erupts around every 91 minutes, though this can vary. This usually results in around 20 eruptions per day. During an eruption, water usually shoots over 100 feet in the air, sometimes reaching as high as 140 feet. These eruptions usually last a few minutes or so.

A lot of water gets shot out of Old Faithful during an eruption. In fact, scientists think that somewhere between 3,500 and 8,400 gallons get shot out during each eruption. The water that shoots out can range in temperature, though it’s always extremely hot. On average, the water comes out at 204°F, and the steam reaches temperatures of 350°F—that’s why it’s important to keep a safe distance from Old Faithful.

Other geysers in Yellowstone National Park

While Old Faithful is the most popular geyser in Yellowstone National Park, there are plenty of others to see. In fact, there are over 500 geysers located in Yellowstone National Park. The Norris Geyser Basin, for example, is home to several beautiful geysers, including the Corporal Geyser, Fearless Geyser and Echinus Geyser. The Norris Geyser Basin is the hottest in Yellowstone National Park. Other popular geyser basins include the Lower Geyser Basin, Midway Geyser Basin and many more.

See Old Faithful for yourself

If you’re visiting Yellowstone National Park, you don’t want to miss out on seeing Old Faithful! When you’re ready for a visit, make sure you sign up for one of our Yellowstone guided tours to ensure you get a great view of the majestic geyser. At Yellowstone Tour Guides, we offer a variety of excellent tour packages, all available at fair prices.