Southwest Montana’s Vigilante Trail

In the early 1900s, Montana was said to have the worst roads in the Union. The grandeur of the mountains and lifestyle of the “wild west” beckoned travelers, yet very few chose to make the difficult trek through the state. Untouched by travelers, Montana’s tourism potential was not being met. In the 1920s, the Vigilante Trail was created to encourage family vacationing by way of automobile to Yellowstone National Park.

Officials believed that the wide open and untouched spaces of Montana would market themselves – if only there were roads on which to travel.

The roads that did exist at the time followed the rugged path of old wagon trails and were often too steep or narrow to allow for travel by automobile. It was not an uncommon site to find passengers aiding vehicles along from the ground, or drivers making their way back down the steep grade.

Dedicated by President Harding in 1924, the new “Vigilante Trail” was deemed a scenic byway between Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks. The gentle grade of the road that cuts through what is now “Pipestone” made travel easy and promoted Yellowstone as a favorite travel destination.

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