A Brief History of Cooke City: People and Place Virtual Program

The Yellowstone Gateway Museum’s “People and Place” virtual speaker series continues on Wednesday, April 21, 7:00pm with Historian Kelly Hartman and “A Brief History of Cooke City.” Participants can register for any or all of the Zoom programs here: https://yellowstonegatewaymuseum.org/webinars-programs/people-place/. Programs are uploaded to museum’s YouTube channel after the live virtual event.

Kelly Hartman, presenter

Kelly Hartman, presenter

Historian Kelly Hartman published A Brief History of Cooke City in 2019. In the 1870s, prospectors staked claims at Cooke City and patiently waited for adequate transportation to get their ore to market. They named the town in honor of Northern Pacific Railway’s tycoon Jay Cooke. Ironically, Cooke’s influence in creating Yellowstone National Park stunted the growth of the town, as the park blocked any efforts to support a railroad through its borders. For more than sixty years, residents waited for the railroad until tourism took hold. Today, the dreams of the miners still live on in tumble-down shacks and rusty old mining equipment. Entrepreneurs offering rustic relaxation at the doorstep of Yellowstone continues to lure visitors to Cooke City. In her book and during the program, Hartman recounts the saga that left hundreds battling for a railroad that never came.

Hartman said, “I was most drawn to the stories of people that hadn't been told in recent years, or to their full capacity. I had little interest in the lives of Hemingway etc. that touched in the area for a spell, I was interested in the people who actually lived and died in the valley. Those that lived a full mountain experience, in particular, those that my readers could most relate to and those that made the valley what it is today.” 

Kelly Hartman was raised in Silver Gate, Montana,A Brief History of Cooke City book cover attending kindergarten through eighth grade at the one-room schoolhouse in Cooke City. She received her AA in art at Northwest Community College in Powell, Wyoming, and her BFA in painting from Western Oregon University in Monmouth, Oregon. In 2014, she started her museum career as the Director of the Cooke City Montana Museum during its opening year. In 2016, she began work as the curator of the Gallatin History Museum in Bozeman, Montana. Her second book was released in June 2020, Murder Along the Yellowstone Trail: The Execution of Seth Danner.

One program in the series remains: "Livingston and Park County: The Early Years" on Wednesday, April 28, 7:00 pm with Paul Shea. Participants can register for any or all of the Zoom programs here: https://yellowstonegatewaymuseum.org/webinars-programs/people-place/. Programs are uploaded to museum’s YouTube channel after the live virtual event.

Visit Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for program updates or contact Karen Reinhart, 222-4184 or kreinhart@parkcounty.org.