A Moving History: Convicts, Boosters, and Citizens: Park Co.’s Contribution to the Yellowstone Trail

Livingston, Montana: Graduate history student Lerick Allen presents “Convicts, Boosters, and Citizens: Park County’s Contribution to the Yellowstone Trail” on Wednesday, March 28, 7:00 pm, at the Yellowstone Gateway Museum. This is the third program in the museum’s A Moving History speaker series. The final program explores traveling the Lewis and Clark trail.IMG_0696

The Yellowstone Trail was an early (1912-1930) transcontinental auto highway stretching from Plymouth Rock to Puget Sound. Park County contained the key section that connected both coasts to Yellowstone National Park, a wonderland that loomed large in the American imagination. Without any state or federal road funding at the time, an association of boosters touted the benefits of the route for towns, raised the money for construction, and rallied the people who volunteered their labor and made the Yellowstone Trail a reality. The trail was designated and improved to the edge of the park at Gardiner by 1914.

The evening’s program is full of engaging narration, stories, and anecdotes.  State Prison convict crews worked on several daunting stretches of the trail and Allen shares prisoner stories (including escapes). During the height of this citizen effort and enthusiasm, not be seen again until World War II, an inspired area playwright staged a Yellowstone Trail-inspired musical which played to sold-out crowds. There are too many other fun stories to list.

Lerick Allen is in the Graduate History Program at Montana State University in Bozeman. He specializes in the history of the American West and Montana, and is also interested in Ice Age hunters and Paleoindians. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business with an emphasis in Marketing, and has worked in the medical, construction, and later, food and beverage industries. He and his eleven-year-old daughter moved to Bozeman from Northern California in 2014.

Two weeks later, on Wednesday, April 11, Lewis and Clark historian Norm Miller presents “In the Wake of Discovery: Traveling the Lewis and Clark Trail by Canoe and Foot.” Stay tuned for more details about this final program.

All programs are part of the museum’s Wednesday evening programming, Hump Day History, and are held at 7:00 pm at the Yellowstone Gateway Museum, 118 W. Chinook, Livingston. The speaker series is free and open to the public and refreshments are served. Doors will open at 6:00 pm for people to grab a seat and enjoy the museum’s exhibits before the program. Seating is limited! Attendees must climb stairs to the top floor of museum for the program.

Contact Karen Reinhart at 222-4184 or kreinhart@parkcounty.org. Visit our Facebook page, yellowstonegatewaymuseum.