By Montana Grant

Posted: November 14, 2021

Over 100 years ago, there was a unique destination for Yellowstone Park visitors. This spot was one of the 3 most famous geothermal features in the park. Old Faithful and Morning Glory Pool were 1 and 2.

“Handkerchief Pool” was a must-see spot. Tourists would risk getting third degree burns so they could toss their dirty “snotrags” into the pool. Literally thousands of dirty handkerchiefs were laundered and sanitized in this way.

The tourist would toss their cloth into the pool and watch the convection currents draw it deep inside the Earth. A few minutes later, their now clean handkerchief emerged. The Park Service even made a cement walkway around the pool with a chained probe to remove the handkerchief safely.

During the first 50-60 years of the Parks existence, this and many other interactive activities left their mark on the park.

The petrified forest is virtually gone. Only one protected stump remains. Obsidian was abundant and large shards were laying around. Chunks of geothermal pools and other souvenirs removed many natural artifacts forever.

The Handkerchief Pool was also ravaged. Not only were handkerchiefs tossed into the pool, anything nearby was also tossed in. About 100 years ago, Coins, rocks, trees, horseshoes, bottles, hairpins, and other trash finally clogged the pools natural plumbing. Handkerchief Pool is no longer a functioning feature.

This now nearly forgotten feature was in the Black Sand Basin on the southern edge of the Rainbow Pool. There is no access or pathways. The pool is gone.

It would have seen a lot of heavy use during the Covid Pandemic!

Montana Grant

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