Old Faithful Leak, but Don’t Call a Plumber

By Beacon Staff

CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Two seasonal Yellowstone National Park concessionaire employees have been fired after they were caught urinating into the iconic Old Faithful geyser, and one also has been ordered banned from the park for two years.

The two were among six employees caught May 4 leaving the trail and walking on the geyser after someone outside the park saw them on a live webcast and called the park dispatch center. The geyser, which spews 200-degree water 100 feet into the air, was not erupting at the time.

Jim McCaleb, general manager of Xanterra Parks & Resorts, said all six were recently hired to work at the Old Faithful Inn for the busy summer tourist season.

“We have a very strong orientation and training program against these kinds of things, and obviously we don’t tolerate that kind of behavior,” McCaleb said.

He said such incidents are rare because most employees are respectful of the park and its resources.

Park rangers cited all six for walking off trail in a thermal area. Two were cited for urinating on the geyser, and five for possession of natural resources, “which means they went in there and took rocks and things like that from the area,” U.S. Attorney John Powell said. All offenses were misdemeanors.

Park spokesman Al Nash said one 23-year-old man cited for urinating, being off trail in a restricted area and illegally possessing natural resource items has been banned from Yellowstone for two years, fined $750 and placed on three years of unsupervised probation by federal Magistrate Stephen Cole.

The court case of the other fired employee is pending.

Nash said it’s not unusual for someone to be banned from the park.

“It’s typically associated with some sort of resource violation like picking up antlers or somebody is involved in poaching,” he said.

The Old Faithful geyser was unaffected by the incident.

Nash said that the world’s first national park has a history of people abusing its geysers, hot pools and other unique thermal features.

One hot pool, Handkerchief Pool, was so named because people used to throw their handkerchiefs into it, watch it swirl around and pull them out “supposedly cleaned from the hot water,” Nash said.

“People used to soap geysers; they used to put soap down them to try and get them to erupt,” he said. “And of course, some of the hot pools that look interesting and pretty, people throw coins in.”

“But it’s not a common occurrence like it was in past decades,” Nash said.

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