Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

DeLacy Creek

DeLacy Creek flows south from DeLacy Lakes to Shoshone Lake. Park Superintendent P.W. Norris named the creek in 1881 for Walter Washington DeLacy (1819-1892), the leader of a prospecting expedition that passed through the Yellowstone region in 1863. DeLacy, a surveyor and engineer, compiled the first accurate map of the Yellowstone area in 1865.

In 1863, DeLacy led a group of prospectors from Jackson Hole across the Pitchstone Plateau and discovered Shoshone Lake, which he named "DeLacy's Lake." He was the first to note the "strange" drainage of that lake south to the Snake River rather than west to the Madison River. But he did not publish his discoveries until 1876, which kept him from receiving credit for being the man who discovered Yellowstone and from leaving his name on present-day Shoshone Lake.

DeLacy also recognized the importance of Yellowstone's thermal features. In a published letter in 1869, he wrote: "At the head of the South Snake, and also on the south fork of the Madison [present-day Shoshone Lake and Firehole River], there are hundreds of hot springs, many of which are 'geysers'" (Raymond, "Mineral Resources," p. 142). In 1871, Hayden changed the name of "DeLacy's Lake" to "Madison Lake." In 1872, Frank Bradley criticized DeLacy for the "numerous errors" on his map and named the lake Shoshone.

Park Superintendent P.W. Norris felt sorry for DeLacy and named the present stream for him in 1881, stating:

The . . . narrative, the high character of its writer [DeLacy], his mainly correct descriptions of the region visited, and the traces which I have found of this party [campsite remains, etc.], proves alike its entire truthfulness, and the injustice of changing the name of De Lacy's Lake [to Shoshone Lake]; and fearing it is now too late to restore the proper name to it, I have, as a small token of deserved justice, named the stream and Park crossed by our trail above the Shoshone Lake after their discoverer (Fifth Annual Report, p. 44).

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