Our View: Yellowstone Trail offers historical glanceOpinion
As community celebrations go, the Yellowstone Trail Heritage Days coming up this weekend is somewhat unique. We all have a chance to reflect on our past and be part of a landmark that helped make Hudson what it is today. We often hear about Route 66, but the Yellowstone Trail is older and longer than Route 66.
By: Editorial staff, Hudson Star-Observer
As community celebrations go, the Yellowstone Trail Heritage Days coming up this weekend is somewhat unique. It doesn’t have the glitz of Booster Days or Pepper Fest, but during the third year of this celebration, we all have a chance to reflect on our past and be part of a landmark that helped make Hudson what it is today.
Up until the past few of years, most local historians had all but forgotten Hudson’s role on the Yellowstone Trail. As it turns out, the route was “the” most famous road across the country during the early days of the automobile. In fact, it was the first transcontinental road, starting at Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts and ending at Puget Sound in Washington State.
We often hear about Route 66, but the Yellowstone Trail is older and longer than Route 66.
In the early days of cars, the transportation system was, at best, very crude. It included a few dirt roads from one town to another. In fact, what became the Yellowstone Trail started as just one man’s effort, J.W. Parmley of Ipswich, S.D., to find a good road from Ipswich to Aberdeen, S.D., 26 miles to the east in 1912.
The Yellowstone Trail came to Wisconsin in 1915 and ran from Hudson to the Illinois border near Kenosha. The Hudson toll bridge had opened in 1913, making Hudson a logical crossing point from the Twin Cities. In our area, the route followed roughly on a series of roads that later became Hwy. 12 from Hudson to Menomonie.
As the road made its way across the country, it became a major route from both the East and West coasts to Yellowstone Park — thus the name.
The Yellowstone Trail Association was formed in 1912 and operated until about 1930. The association did not build roads, but lobbied for “good roads” in every level of government. The association assisted with marking the Yellowstone Trail and provided the first maps of the trail.
Hudson’s “Yellowstone Trail Heritage Days” celebration this weekend serves as a good reminder for all citizens — a reminder of our rich past and the importance of not letting history slip into oblivion.
The local event includes many activities. Like the popularity of the road in the early part of the 20th century, the celebration has grown tremendously in just two years. See the insert in this week’s Star-Observer for weekend activities and a more extensive history of the Yellowstone Trail.
We salute the Hudson Area Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau for promoting this sort of celebration. It’s the type of celebration that promotes the history of our community and brings a small piece of the past to “front and center.”
For those who participate, the celebration gives us a chance to turn back the clock a little and be part of some old-time fun throughout our community. It’s also a good reminder of our past for all of us to consider and ponder.