Old railroad will be converted into Yellowstone pathway

By Brett French, Billings Gazette, AP

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A nine-mile (14.5-kilometer) stretch of abandoned railroad in southwest Montana will be resurrected to once again carry Yellowstone National Park-area tourists.

The Billings Gazette reports that the Custer Gallatin National Forest last week announced approval of a nonmotorized, multi-use path along the old Oregon Short Line rail bed between West Yellowstone and Reas Pass at the Montana-Idaho border.

Plans include rest stops along the route with picnic tables and benches.

Hebgen Lake Ranger District ranger Jason Brey says the cost to build three bridges, clear and gravel the old railroad bed outside of West Yellowstone could run between $350,000 to $450,000. Paving the route would increase that cost.

By tying other roads and trails together cyclists could make a grand 250-mile loop from West Yellowstone to Jackson, Wyoming, coming back through Yellowstone National Park.

The forest will seek grants to help with the cost.

The rail line originally opened in 1908 but was abandoned in 1979.

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