Beaver Dam, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Special Collections > Keystone Slides
tiff scanned file from original glass slide
Beavers are the largest of our gnawing animals. They sometimes weigh as much as 50 pounds. They are coated with a fine, soft fur which has made them the prey to hunters and trappers. They have a peculiar flat tail that is covered with scales instead of hair. This tail is 8 or 9 inches long and 4 inches wide. It is shaped like a paddle and is used by the animal as a propeller when he swims and as a trowel when he works at his trade on building. The beaver is the most wonderful builder of any our mammals. His home is a marvel of architecture-as marvelous as that, of the honeybee or the ant. The dam that he builds across rivers is to give him a body of deep water where his enemies cannot seek him out. In the bottom of his lake he lays up his winter supply of food. This food consists of the inner bark of trees. Before building a dam the chief engineer among the beavers selects a favorable place in the stream for its location. He never makes a mistake in choosing a likely spot, nor does he make his choice during high water. Immediately, work is begun. Trees are gnawed down, their limbs are cut into sections about 6 feet long, and even great sections of the trunk are gnawed in two. Sometimes 3 or 4 beavers will work together to roll a tree trunk into the stream. The dam here is 600 feet long. There are no beavers in this lake now. Some of their dams are two-fifths of a mile in length and 20 feet wide at the base. The logs and limbs are plastered together with mud which the beaver carries in great armloads with his front paws. They are such energetic little beings that we speak of an industrious person as one who "works like a beaver". Keystone ID: 13594 Note: All titles, descriptions, and location coordinates are from the original Keystone Slide documentation as supplied by the Keystone View Company. No text has been edited or changed.
Copyright by the Keystone View Company. The original slides are housed in McConnell Library's Special Collections.