"2000 Miles of Startling Beauty"
Rare promotional map of the railroad lines in the northwestern part of the United States, published by the Northern Pacific Railway.
The map promotes the Yellowstone Park Line via the "Gardiner Gateway" ("Northern Entrance to Yellowstone Park reached only via Northern Pacific Ry.")
Gardiner Gateway and the Yellowstone Park Line
The Yellowstone Park branch line was first completed in 1883 by the Northern Pacific Railway. The line ended at Cinnabar station, 3 miles north of Gardiner. The line was marketed as the first railroad line to a national park. The line was extended to Gardiner in June 1902. Cinnabar was abandoned and became a ghost town after operations shifted to Gardiner.
The initial track to Gardiner was not built with turning capabilities and trains had to backtrack to Cinnabar to reverse. A new turning track along with a permanent depot opened later in 1903. Throughout the majority of the station's life, one train in each direction was operated to/from Livingston, 51 miles north. During the peak summer months, through Pullman sleeping car service was available from Chicago and Seattle via the North Coast Limited. A peak of "more than 17,000" annual passengers used the branch line in 1925.
With the introduction of the automobile and bus, rail service to Gardiner declined significantly. In 1915, the Northern Pacific (plus other railroads at other gates) brought in 44,477 people compared to 7,418 by car. This greatly decreased to 26,845 rail passengers out of 194,771 total visitors in 1930.
The last scheduled passenger service ran in 1948. Special charter trains operated until 1955, and the last service to Gardiner was a troop of Girl Scouts. The depot was demolished in 1954.