Yellowstone Used To Be Like Yogi Bear
There aren't a lot of bears roaming the public areas of Yellowstone National Park these days. But don't despair just yet; Yogi Bear wasn't entirely a lie. Back in the 1910s, bears basically did rule the entire park.
George A. GrantIn real life, Ranger Smith was never seen again after this photo.
See, back in the day, national parks had to placate government officials who would've liked nothing more than to pave over them. And what's more, they had to justify their existence in a way that didn't cost too much money. Luckily, Yellowstone had plenty of workers who didn't ask for a living wage. In 1919, the park opened a brand-new attraction: the "bear lunch counter."
The park built a raised bear feeding platform, along with bleachers from which guests could watch it. At a designated time, a ranger would ride a horse-drawn cart out to the feeding platform and give a lecture to the assembled masses, all while a swarm of hungry bears descended upon his position. Just like Disneyland, there were also VIP experiences up for grabs -- in this case, the chance to ride the garbage cart out to the feeding platform. If that sounds hilariously dangerous ... it, uh, was.
National Parks ServiceSorry, we don't have a mitigating factor to add.
After we successfully taught bears that they could tap humans for food on demand, they began tapping humans for food on demand. Who could have foreseen?! Bears would no longer wait for the timed performances, but would instead squat in the middle of roads leading into the park, blocking cars until their occupants threw out food in the hopes of distracting them. People called them "hold-up bears," which is frankly an adorable name for bear robbery.
But once the inevitable happened and bears finally started attacking people for food, the program was gradually phased out until the bears once again learned to steer clear of guests. The guests, meanwhile, have yet to learn the same lesson.
The Only Two Words You'll Ever Need To Hear: Octopus! Wrestling!
In the late '50s and early '60s, octopus wrestling was a hugely popular spectator sport in the Pacific Northwest, drawing crowds of over 5,000. But rather than an awesome-sounding cage match between man and octopus, this was more of a glorified diving competition wherein teams of divers would compete to hunt down and bring back the biggest octopus they could.