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Hofer, Billy



  • Existence: 1849 - 1933

Biographical History

Billy Hofer was a Yellowstone National Park and Rocky Mountain guide.

Thomas Elwood Hofer was born in 1849 [estimated] to John Hofer and Mary Weeks. He lived in Chicago until 1972, when he came to the West. He gave tours of Yellowstone Park and Clark's Fork from 1880 to 1907 [approximate]. For a number of years he also served as a mail carrrier, guide, and army scout in Yellowstone, and was called "Uncle Billy." He also learned the art of photography while in the park. Hofer eventually applied for a lease to maintain a stable and corral at Mammoth in order to conduct his guiding business. In 1907 Hofer received a 10-year lease to operate boats on Yellowstone Lake. He formed the T.E. Hofer Boat Co. In 1908 he bought out the E.C. Waters, Yellowstone Lake operation. Articles of incorporation were filed in March of 1908, and included three directors: Hofer, W.A. Hall, and C.N. Sargent. His company operated the ferry service with the ‘Zillah’ from West Thumb to Lake Hotel, provided fishing boats to hire for visitors, and he operated the businesses in conjuction with his boat operations. Financing for the buyout of the E.C. Waters' was obtained from H.W. Child and the Northern Pacific Railroad. In 1910 Child bought out Hofer's interests. He guided some notable people through Yellowstone, including Theodore Roosevelt. He ran a number of businesses through which he conducted his guiding. Billy Hofer died on April 23, 1933 in Clinton, Washington.

Google books, website viewed November 12, 2014 (Billy Hofer; one of the best known Rocky Mountain guides in America; Elwood Hofer, better known as Billy Hofer; parents were Swiss; resided in Chicago until 1871, when he went West; served as a pack master, mail carrrier, and guide in the West from Colorado to the Missouri River; relocated to Gardiner, Montana and became a guide for hunting our touring parties through Yellowstone Park; ; From artcle entitled "Chicago and the West" from Field and Stream magazine)

Geyser Bob's Yellowstone Park Historical Service, website viewed November 12, 2014 (Hofer, Thomas Elwood; T.E. Hofer (Thomas Hofer) came out West in 1872 to Colorodo where he carried mails on skis; left Colorado in spring in 1877 and mined in the Black Hills; made it to Yellowstone in 1878 where he began guiding and outfitting tourist and hunting parties; also known as Uncle Billy; scout for the army; conducted wildlife survey of the park in 1887; ended up in Gardiner, Montana and later moved to Clinton, Washington)

Geyser Bob, via WWW, June 16, 2017 (was a guide for Yellowstone Park; served as an army scout; called "Uncle Billy"; guided Theodore Roosevelt)

Find a grave, via WWW, June 16, 2017 (b. about 1849 to John Hofer and Mary Weeks; d. April 23, 1933 in WA)

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Billy Hofer Yellowstone glass plate collection

Identifier: MSS 9008
Scope and Contents

Contains thirty-five glass plate negatives of photographs taken by Billy Hofer while he was a guide in Yellowstone Park. Photographs include landscapes within the park as well as groups Hofer guided. There are also photographs of Hofer's cabin in Cinnabar, Montana. Dated 1887.

Dates: approximately 1885-1887