• The Yellowstone Shortline Trail (YST) Committee is excited to announce a fiscal sponsorship with the Yellowstone Historic Center (YHC), a local nonprofit serving the West Yellowstone community through its dedication to and efforts towards preserving and interpreting the area’s history and cultural heritage. The YST Committee is composed of community-oriented individuals joined together with the goal of raising $1.25 million to revitalize the historic railroad bed for the purpose of providing West Yellowstone’s residents and visitors with a with a sustainable, healthy, and authentic way to experience the region’s unique environment and history.

    What was once Union Pacific Railroad’s right-of-way stretching from West Yellowstone, MT to the Montana-Idaho border was abandoned decades ago, leaving behind a path with a great deal of potential for outdoor recreational opportunities. For years, residents of West Yellowstone have discussed ways to revitalize the area. In 2019, a group of determined locals came together with a shared interest in finally seeing the project come to life. Their goal is to convert the 9-mile section of railroad bed into a world-class, hiking-biking trail following the historic route of the Oregon Short Line Railroad through Custer Gallatin National Forest. The trail will be a 10-foot wide graded path with several bridges and will include amenities such as pavilions, benches, and interpretive signage. Once finished, residents and visitors will be able to experience the historic route of the railroad in a way that promotes local tourism and businesses, strengthens public health, improves quality of life, and encourages learning about the past.

    The Yellowstone Shortline Trail is fortunate to have gained a tremendous amount of support for the project. The Yellowstone Historic Center, as fiscal sponsor, will be able to accept tax-deductible donations on behalf of the YST, providing an avenue for fundraising. These donations will support the construction of the trail. The staff of the YHC is also excited to offer staff support, especially in interpretive signage to create an “outdoor museum.” The committee has been working closely with Jason Brey of Custer Gallatin National Forest, who is managing the project for the USFS.

    The Dr. Ezekiel R. and Edna Wattis Dumke Foundation has pledged a 2-to-1 challenge grant, enabling the first $375,000 in donations for the trail to be tripled. “The Foundation is thrilled to be a partner on the Yellowstone Shortline Trail,” says Claire Ryberg, granddaughter of Ezekiel and Edna. “We were drawn to the project because of the connection to railroad transportation, which played an integral role in shaping the community of West Yellowstone. Three generations of our family rode the train when travelling to and from summer homes starting with our grandparents in the 1930s. This is a terrific way to honor our grandparents’ legacy and give back to a community that has given us so much throughout the years. The trail will offer a new way for residents and visitors to experience what the area has to offer.”

    Additionally, the project has received support from the Town of West Yellowstone, West Yellowstone Tourism Business Improvement District, the West Yellowstone Chamber of Commerce Bike Committee, Freeheel & Wheel, Northern Rocky Mountain Economic Development – Bridger District, Mike & Andrea Manship, M2O Group, Gallatin County Resource Advisory Committee, the Cross Charitable Fund, and the Greater Yellowstone Trail.

    “The Yellowstone Historic Center is extremely excited about partnering with and serving as the fiscal sponsor for the Yellowstone Shortline Trail,” says Executive Director Kaitlin Johnson. “When first approached about participating, I was overwhelmed by the enthusiasm for the trail as well as the strong connection to YHC’s mission to understand, preserve, and interpret the heritage of the area. It has been a pleasure working with the many great partners involved. This project has and will continue to bring many unique organizations and individuals together. We are particularly encouraged by and appreciative of support during this sensitive, unprecedented time. We hope this project serves as a positive goal our community and visitors can look forward to.”

    To learn more about the Yellowstone Shortline Trail and make a contribution, visit: www.yellowstoneshortlinetrail.org. All donations at or above $100 will receive recognition along the trail through the Shortline Supporters program. The Yellowstone Historic Center is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization, so all or part of your donation may be tax deductible.