Interest in the area of Yellowstone started with incredible tales by the first trappers of gurgling mud pots and gushing geysers. Since 1872, when the first National Park was established, curious people have traveled to the area from all over the world to see this "Wonderland" for themselves. The Yellowstone Historic Center provides the public with exhibits that interpret the heritage of people traveling to Yellowstone. This Montana museum includes guided walking tour through the historic district, daily films, guest speakers, interactive displays, educational programs, and rare artifacts.
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The Museum of Yellowstone, which focused on the natural and human history of Yellowstone, was housed in the Union Pacific Depot in West Yellowstone from 1972 until 2000. Yellowstone Historic Center took over managing the museum in 2000. They changed the focus of the museum to the story of people traveling to Yellowstone National Park and interpreting West Yellowstone's heritage. After restoring the depot and building new exhibits, the museum re-opened in 2001 under the name Yellowstone Historic Center Museum. Since the original depot was constructed to be used only during the summer, the museum is only open from the middle of May to the middle of October,
The Yellowstone Historic Center features several permanent exhibits that highlight the unique history of the Yellowstone. Beanery Queens tells the stories of those who came to work for Union Pacific in West Yellowstone. These young women waited tables, sang, and had Yellowstone adventures of their own.
In Dumpster Bears and Old Snaggletooth, visitors can learn about the unique history of dumpster bears in Yellowstone. There is an ongoing struggle with the management of wildlife by the National Park with the presence of humans. Along with learning about the history of these bears, guest also become familiar with "Old Snaggletooth," the most famous dumpster bear in West Yellowstone.
West Yellowstone: Tourists, Trains, and the Wonders of Yellowstone shares the story of how a little gateway town has evolved over time. Since 1872, when Yellowstone National Park was created, ambitious entrepreneurs come the area with dreams of success. The exhibit features an extensive history of the Yellowstone area up until present-day.
The role of the Union Pacific Railroad in the town of West Yellowstone's development is showcased in the Wonderland by Train exhibit. The history of its work to benefit Yellowstone National Park is also highlighted. Included in the items seen in the exhibit is the rare "Harriman Blue" dining china that was once used in West Yellowstone's Union Pacific Dining Lodge.
Stage coaches was the way to get around and bring products to Yellowstone before the introduction of the automobile. Stage Coaches and Freight Wagons provides visitors with a tour of Yellowstone during its olden days as they follow one of these stage coaches through the loop. On display within the exhibits are several historically refurbished freight wagons and stage coaches. The Mount Washburn coach is the only stage coach of its type that is still intact.
104 Yellowstone Avenue, West Yellowstone, Montana, Phone: 406-646-1100