From the Yellowstone Trail Association:
“Did you know that your town may possess a national treasure? The Yellowstone Trail (1912-1930) may have ran right through your city, down the main street of most smaller towns. The Trail was born at a time when private citizens had to form organizations to push counties to get long distance roads built. Federal and state governments would not help, pleading lack of funds or the unconstitutionality of “internal improvements.” Roads were terrible: mud or dust everywhere. Ever hear of drivers’ coats called “dusters?” The Yellowstone Trail Association’s 8000 members persuaded counties across the upper tier of states to create roads that actually joined together. Thus, they formed a route of 3600 miles “Good Road from Plymouth Rock to Puget Sound,” their motto.
It became such a popular coast-to-coast route that towns fought to get on the Trail. Roads meant a better way for farmers to get produce to the railhead, less isolation, more possibility for business, a broader horizon, and Saturday night movies at a nearby town. When told that Indiana had more cars than bathtubs, a rural woman replied, “Well, you can’t take a bathtub to town.” Today, there are still many reminders of the Trail in local street or business names.
Now the route is 100 years old and towns along the Trail are marking the event. Local historical societies, travel promoters like Convention and Visitors Bureaus and Chambers of Commerce are sponsoring events that vary from putting banners on streets, to holding antique car runs along the Trail, to having community picnics.
We urge your town to hold an event in honor of this national treasure, the Yellowstone Trail. Get engaged in local history. Pull out grandpa’s travel diary and pictures. Mark the Trail with signs. Promote area tourism to stimulate some economic development. If Gascoyne, North Dakota, a hamlet of 12 people, can mark their spot on the trail, surely the rest of us should.
What about it? Anyone want to lead?