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Questions loom larger than answers in Hazel Decker mystery

Hazel Decker at about age 50 (Family photo reprinted in Lee Dalton’s book)

For four years, Lee Dalton of Ogden, Utah, has been slowly unraveling the story of a Two Harbors geyser enthusiast that he met in Yellowstone National Park in the 1960s. His search has produced more questions than answers.

This month, he sent a short book to the Lake County News-Chronicle with the information he has gathered on Hazel Decker, a Two Harbors woman who spent the later years of her life parked in Yellowstone, waiting for geysers to erupt.

“Here is what I discovered. Very little really,” he says at the start of the book.

Dalton first contacted local news agencies three years ago, seeking leads on Decker. He first met her in 1966, when he began working at Yellowstone National Park. He and his fellow rangers called her the “Little Old Lady in Tennis Shoes.” She was on a seemingly endless quest to witness as many geyser eruptions as possible, and the rangers turned a blind eye as she camped in her car in a parking lot during the summers.

Though she is a legend to park rangers, Dalton said, he found that he and his former colleagues actually knew very little about the woman. So, the Utah man planned a trip to Minnesota to see what he could find out. His 20-page booklet, “In Search of Steamboat Geyser’s Biggest Fan,” is the result of his research.

While in the area last summer, he spoke with Decker’s daughter, grandchildren, and her former neighbor and family friend. Dalton even visited her former home just north of Two Harbors on Highway 61.

He found out the very basics – where and when she was born and died, the details of her two marriages, and the names of her kids – but the portrait of Hazel Decker is still incomplete.

“In the end I found myself with a lot of still unanswered questions about Hazel Decker,” Dalton writes at the close of his book.

Dalton is still interested in hearing more about Hazel. Anyone interested in getting a copy of his book or willing to share a story about Hazel Decker can contact Lee Dalton at (801) 389-0259 or e-mail him at lukedalton84404@gmail.com.

LaReesa Sandretsky
LaReesa Sandretsky is a Two Harbors High School graduate and Duluth native who began working at the News-Chronicle in 2012 as a reporter. She took over as editor in 2014. She covers County Board, including the Lake County broadband project.
(218) 834-2141
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