West Yellowstone Oregon Shortline Terminus Historic District

Yellowstone Ave., West Yellowstone, Montana


West Yellowstone Oregon Shortline Historic District

Union Pacific Depot - now a museum

Photo taken by David Jones in August 2019



Street View 


"In 1905 Union Pacific officials began construction of a branch line in the pine-forested wilderness from Ashton, Idaho, to the western edge of Yellowstone Park. As the final tracks were laid in 1907, Samuel P. Eagle, Alex Stuart, Charles Arnet, and L. A. Murray applied for commercial leases, prompting the Forest Service to survey and plat a six-block townsite. Privately owned businesses prospered, serving crowds of Park tourists ferried back and forth from the railway by stagecoach. West Yellowstone became a thriving permanent settlement, dominated by the beautiful 1909 Union Pacific Depot. Architect Gilbert Stanley Underwood, who was later noted for his imaginative resort designs and many passenger stations, combined Richardsonian Romanesque elements with rustic exposed wood and hood-like roofs. In 1922 Underwood also drew the plans for a new dining lodge and overnight guest dormitories. These creative designs explore the naturalistic Rustic style adopted by the National Park Service. Native rhyolite gathered along the railway line enhances the rustic appearance of foundations, walls, colossal chimneys, and massive fireplaces and complements the log construction. This collection of railroad buildings constructed between 1905 and 1927 has withstood severe weather, major fires, rebuilding, and expansion. The district stands today as a rare reminder of early Park tourism and a tribute to a fine architect." - NRHP/Montana Historical Society plaque

National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on April 13, 1983
Reference number
Architectural styles
American Movement; Other architectural type; Rustic
Areas of significance
Commerce; Transportation; Exploration/Settlement; Architecture
Level of significance
Evaluation criteria
A - Event; C - Design/Construction
Property type
Historic functions
Hotel; Restaurant; Rail-related
Current functions
Museum; Government office; Warehouse; Clinic
Periods of significance
1900-1924; 1925-1949
Number of properties
Contributing buildings: 7
Contributing structures: 3
Contributing objects: 1
Non-contributing buildings: 6

Update Log 

  • November 24, 2021: New Street View added by Bill Eichelberger
  • August 11, 2019: New photos from David Jones
  • August 11, 2019: New photos from David Jones
  • July 17, 2019: Updated by Richard Doody: Added historical information