The Yellowstone Historic Center is dedicated to preserving the heritage of travel to Yellowstone. As the first national park, the historic center highlights an extensive collection of documents and artifacts that relate to the history of travelers scurrying across country via stagecoaches, buses, trains, planes and snow machines to see the beauty of this geothermic region.
The museum is home to the historic Union Pacific Depot. The museum allows visitors to explore the historic 10-acre Oregon Short Line Historic District that surrounds the Depot, which also highlights other Union Pacific Railroad facilities that were built to help serve the park’s original visitors. The historic center focuses on restoring thee structures to help maintain the original vision for future visitors.
The museum also features several different exhibits, as highlighted below.
- Wings Into West – This displays highlights the first airport that was built in the area, which dates to 1935 through the present airport, dating to 1965. The exhibit includes photos, stories, biographies, first hand accounts of locals involved in building the airports, pilots, original artifacts, uniforms and much more.
- West Yellowstone: Tourists, Trains and the Wonders of Yellowstone – This exhibit is in memory of Dale Koelzer from the Montana Boys. Entrepreneurs have regularly flocked to the area and this exhibit highlights many memorable moments in the history of West Yellowstone.
- Beanery Queens: They came for the job, and left with memories: Many young women traveled to West Yellowstone to help work on the Union Pacific. They helped entertain, waited tables and even explored Yellowstone National Park.
- Stage Coaches and Freight Wagons – Before automobiles, it was a rough and bumpy adventure into the frontier of Yellowstone. The museum has historic and refurbished freight wagons and stagecoaches on display, especially for those on the trip to Mount Washburn and back. They are among the only of their kind to exist.
- Wonderland by Train – The Union Pacific Railroad helped develop the town of West Yellowstone by offering service to Yellowstone National Park. Displays include the rare “Harriman Blue” china, which was once in use in the Union Pacific Dining Lodge in West Yellowstone. These are on loan from Andrew and Judy DeBoer.
- Dumpster Bears and Old Snaggletooth – The museum advises never feeding wildlife, as this makes them less scared of the public. The museum explains the history of West Yellowstone’s most famous dumpster bear, “Old Snaggletooth.”
The museum has several different historic districts, including the Temporary Wooden Depot, “The Beanery” eating house, Permanent Depot building, Water Tower, Pump House, Freight House, Generator House and Oil House, Baggage Building, Rest Pavilion, Dining Lodge, Men’s Dormitory, Beanery converted to a Women’s Dormitory, Pump House, Oil House and Generator House altered, Pylon built, Rustic Signs installed and Stagecoach Shelter build.
Some of the best camping areas in West Yellowstone are located on Hebgen Lake. They offer Yellowstone RV parks and Hebgen Lake lodging, which are ideal for people looking to explore both West Yellowstone and Yellowstone National Park.