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West Yellowstone History, Montana

West Yellowstone is a small touristy mountain town in Montana, US and represents the point where visitors driving from Idaho Falls or Bozeman can enter Yellowstone National Park. West Yellowstone’s history can be traced back to the mid 19th century, when Gilman Sawtelle had settled near Henry’s Lake, building a road from his ranch to Virginia City in 1868. Since then, the place progressively attracted more and more visitors, arriving by stage coach to take advantage of the Yellowstone’s amazing thermal features, and also settlers who foresaw the touristy potential of the area.

West Yellowstone – Early 19th Century

On June 11, 2008, West Yellowstone has celebrated its centennial, on the same day when, in 1908, the first Union Pacific passenger train arrived to its terminal station and gave a new dimension to tourism in the area. The town began developing around the railroad station (whose old building is now a museum) and was given the name Riverside in 1908. The town had several different names during its pioneering years, such as Terminus, Boundary, Yellowstone and finally West Yellowstone, which was adopted in 1920, so there would be no confusion between the town and the park. These previous names suggest what West Yellowstone use to be a terminus point for the Oregon Railroad extension and the boundary where the fascinating ecosystem of the Park began.

West Yellowstone - Historical Landmarks

The town’s current name also suggests how deeply rooted into the Old West this town with less than 1500 inhabitants really is. The Yellowstone Museum, located in the Union Pacific Depot building, hosts many relevant displays on railroad and stage coach transportation, as well as on the ’88 fires that severely affected the park. Some of the town’s stores and hotels have gained historic value, like the Madison Hotel, built in 1912 by Dolly and Roxy Bartlett, the Eagle's Store, still owned and ran by the Eagles, or the original school house, which now hosts Yellowstone Bicycle.

The first store in town, the Yellowstone Store, was founded by Charles Arnet in 1908 and hosted the first post office. Another pioneer of West Yellowstone was Alex Stuart, who bought the Yellowstone Store and then founded Stuart’s Garage, facilitating the aces of motor vehicles in the park.

West Yellowstone – Recent History

The most recent event in the West Yellowstone history was the inauguration Wolf and Grizzly Centre, a place where rescued animals can be admired in a natural habitat. For a multimedia experience of Yellowstone history and nature, the IMAX theatre (first of his kind in Montana) runs daily the Yellowstone documentary. For more information on West Yellowstone History in particular and the history of the West in general, the closest nearby city, Bozeman MT, hosts the Pioneer Museum.

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