West Yellowstone Oregon Shortline Terminus Historic District
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.