August 9th, 4:44pm
“Yellowstone chooses her own. And when Yellowstone chooses you, you don’t get away…” In our interview with Paul Shea, Director of the Yellowstone Gateway Museum, recalled this quote from Judy Meyer’s “The Spirit of Yellowstone,” to describe his own experience. Originally from Sparks, NV, Paul thought he’d spend one summer as a bus tour guide in Yellowstone. But coming to Yellowstone changed Paul’s life. For him, it’s a spiritual connection; one that kept bringing him back as a seasonal worker, until he ultimately settled in West Yellowstone.
We visited Paul in Livingston, MT, where he currently resides as the director of the Yellowstone Gateway Museum. Paul shared the history of Livingston, one of many gateway towns to the park. Founded in 1883, Livingston was halfway on the Northern Pacific’s rail line between Milwaukee, WI, and Puget Sound, WA. So, Northern Pacific located their rail-car factories here. Even when the rail was replaced with the Yellowstone Trail (one of the first transcontinental roads from Plymouth, MS, to Puget Sound, WA), Livingston still welcomed automobiles as they drove into Yellowstone.
He was eager to share his vast knowledge of Yellowstone lore. There’s the postcard of a New Yorker, charmed by his Yellowstone experience of being robbed on his stagecoach, “the best $20 he ever spent in his life.” The “Let Me In” campaign, to allow automobiles that were stubbornly opposed by the military, who was in charge of the park until 1916. And Wylie Way and Shaw & Powell, the more well known camping and Yellowstone guide operations, who in the offseason, would give lectures nationally to tell a growing nation of the wonders of Yellowstone.
Next time you’re in Yellowstone, with some time on your hands, trek one hour north to Livingston, MT, to learn all this and more, at the charming Yellowstone Gateway Museum!