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Meet the Fishing Cone Geyser

Fishing Cone is a hot spring located in the West Thumb Geyser Basin. The Folsom party probably saw it in 1869, but the first recorded description of Fishing Cone comes from the 1870 Washburn Expedition. Party member Walter Trumball wrote about Cornelius Hedges's experience fishing:

A gentleman was fishing from one of the narrow isthmuses or shelves of rock, which divided one of these hot springs from the [Yellowstone] lake, when, in swinging a trout ashore, it accidentally got off the hook and fell into the spring. For a moment it darted about with wonderful rapidity, as if seeking an outlet. Then it came to the top, dead, and literally boiled (Overland Monthly, June 1871, p. 492).

From that time on, and perhaps even earlier, visitor after visitor performed this feat, catching fish from the cold lake and cooking them on the hook. Hayden Survey members did it in 1871, and the next year they named the spring "Fish Pot" or "Hot Spring Cone." Later names were "Fisherman's Kettle," "Fish Cone," "Fishpot Spring," "Crater Island," and "Chowder Pot." The name Fishing Cone came about gradually through the generic use of the term in guidebooks.

The cooking-on-the-hook feat at Fishing Cone soon became famous. For years, park Superintendent P.W. Norris (1877-1882) demonstrated it to incredulous tourists, and in 1894 members of Congress hooted at their colleagues who described the process. A national magazine reported in 1903 that no visit to the park was complete without this experience, and tourists often dressed in a cook's hat and apron to have their pictures taken at Fishing Cone. The fishing and cooking practice, regarded today as unhealthy, is now prohibited.

Fishing at the cone can be dangerous. A known geyser, Fishing Cone erupted frequently to the height of 40 feet in 1919 and to lesser heights in 1939. One fisherman was badly burned at Fishing Cone in 1921.

- NPS -

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