|Hiram Martin Chittenden|
In 1899, his request to return to Yellowstone was successful and he was overjoyed that spring when he was able to return. His return came with a promotion and he was assigned to the post of Engineer Officer. In 1902, the government gave him a larger budget and Hiram was able to turn his attention to new buildings and offices, including a badly needed new mess hall. Later that year, with the planned arrival of the Northern Pacific Railroad to Gardiner, Montana at the park's northern border, he was able to convince Washington, D.C. of the need for a magnificent entrance to the park.
|Historical picture of the Roosevelt Arch at Yellowstone|
|Roosevelt Arch as it looks today.|
With the larger budget, Hiram was also able to have a new home constructed for himself. He personally oversaw the construction of his house which was located just east of the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel. The house was a rather simple design and built of wood, but it fit him perfectly and was large enough to accommodate his family on their frequent visits. His wife Nettie and their children Eleanor, Hiram Jr., and Teddy remained at the family home in St. Louis during most of his various posts, but often came to stay with Hiram at Yellowstone for extended periods of time. He had one of the rooms in the house built as his office and he spent many hours at his desk smoking his cigars while reading, writing, and making plans for the future of the park.
|The Chittenden home now serve as offices for several|
In late 1905, he was given orders to a post in Seattle, Washington. After a total of ten years in his beloved Yellowstone, he was loath to leave, but he answered the call of duty and left behind his park and his home. He and his wife planned to return to Yellowstone in retirement to live out their lives, but in 1917 at the age of 58, Hiram contracted an illness and passed away without ever seeing the park again. At least not while he was alive.
The original Chittenden home is currently occupied by the offices of the Yellowstone Association and the Yellowstone Institute. The employees are sure old Hiram returned here after his death. Computers in the office sometimes shut down and then turn themselves back on while an employee is working on them. Repairmen cannot explain it because they can find nothing wrong with the equipment and when removed from the premises, they work perfectly. Overhead lights flicker on and off. Electricians have been summoned numerous times, but can find nothing wrong with the wiring. The employees are convinced Hiram doesn't like his home having electricity and is trying to let them know of his displeasure.
|Could Hiram's spirit still be staying here?|
|Hiram, Nettie, Hiram Jr., Eleanor, & Teddy|
Shortly before he died, Hiram confided to a friend that his only regret was not accomplishing more while in Yellowstone. Evidently he has returned to spend eternity in the place he loved the most and perhaps to help guide those who are today working on the park and its future.
Maybe Henry Wordsworth Longfellow had Hiram in mind when he wrote, "All houses in which men lived and died are haunted houses. Through the open doors the harmless phantoms on their errands glide with feet that make no sound upon the floors."