A Small group of New York real estate speculators was seated at a table happily discussing a deal they were about to make that could make thousands of dollars for them. They had been promised what amounted to a practically perpetual lease on some land held by the U.S. Government. It was good land, sure to attract large numbers of visitors as it became a resort area. The New Yorkers were pleased that the Interior Department would help them get that land. But sitting nearby was a small man, stern-appearing, with iron grey hair and a “military moustache” who spoiled their plans. And for all of us, it is a good thing. A few days later, that listener rose in the United States Senate and exposed those plans and the connivance of government agencies to give away a precious resource. It was 1881 and Missouri Senator George Graham Vest had saved Yellowstone Park.
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