Yellowstone NP and Livingston, Montana

There is a connection. The Northern Pacific Railroad created the town of Livingston in 1882 as a locomotive service center. It was a strategic location because the big steam engines had to be in peak condition before ascending the Bozeman Pass going west. It was also at the north end of Paradise Valley, the Yellowstone River valley.

The railroad company wanted passengers. People wanted to see Yellowstone, the great park created in 1872. The railroad built a spur line south along the Yellowstone river valley.  Originally, the line  went to a site on the east side of the river called Cinnabar. Nothing remains of this town. It existed from 1883 until 1903. In 1903 when the rail line was extended to Gardiner, now the North Entrance to Yellowstone National Park, the town of Cinnabar died.

Passengers took trains from the east coast. Hotels were built in Livingston to handle the travelers. They could take the spur to Cinnabar which had hotels. There, they got a stage coach for the last few miles to Gardiner and Mammoth Hot Springs. Once the line to Gardiner was completed there was no reason for a stop at Cinnabar and it immediately became a ghost town……….

This is the park entrance at Gardiner, Montana….my son Brad and I came out of the park this way going north to Glacier National park in 1977 when he was 12

On Sunday we drove south from Pine Creek , stopping at one of the river access points….

Ronnie tested the water…..cold

We drove by the famous Roosevelt Arch in Gardiner….President Teddy Roosevelt spoke at the laying of the cornerstone while on a visit in 1903….the arch was built to commemorate the creation of Yellowstone NP in 1872.

It was very hot so we only drove in to Tower Junction and stopped briefly at the Roosevelt Lodge which was built in 1903…

You can take a stagecoach ride from here….I assume out along part of the original stage coach trail that came out here from Mammoth Hot Springs (about 20 miles)….hard to imagine doing that ride…it would have taken all day.

Gardiner, has an old west look when coming back out of the park….

The Yellowstone River in Gardiner is pretty impressive… at the bridge in Gardiner….


I just read that the Yellowstone is the longest free flowing river (no dams) in the lower 48, about 692 miles…flowing north thru the park then at Livingston it makes a right turn to the east and flows into the Missouri River in North Dakota…

Now to the town of Livingston….its Tuesday and we had breakfast this morning at Faye’s Cafe….really great, very unusual. She likes to play when cooking and encourages her patrons to try the “Chef’s Surprise”. She gets to create whatever she wants but guaranteed you will like it….Ronnie had it….she liked it

Livingston is not a big city, only about 7400 citizens. We walked around the old downtown to get a sense of the old buildings which were mostly hotels in 1900…

We went into the old railway depot, now a museum, beautifully restored….built in 1902…

I like the little town. There is a really nice public park on the river where it makes a right turn to the east.

Tomorrow we’re going to Bozeman then maybe south toward Big Sky.


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