History has a way of eluding most people, and the further away from a historical place and time, the further these events fade from memory.
History has a way of eluding most people, and the further away from a historical place and time, the further these events fade from memory. It just so happens that two transplanted artists are attempting to teach the locals about a piece of forgotten local history.
Jess Gorman, a native of Ohio, and Olga Nichols from Uganda, are on a mission to educate area residents about the historic Yellowstone Trail. Never heard of it? Not many people have.
The Yellowstone Trail eventually became the very first transcontinental automobile highway that traversed the upper tier of the states from Plymouth, Massachusetts, through Montana, Wyoming, and ending up at Seattle, Washington.
Gorman, who most recently called Denver home, now lives in Granite Falls and is the storefront artist of the Yes! House in Granite Falls. She is a photo journalist who became fascinated with the Yellowstone Trail and its history. She said: “The Yellowstone Trail is a historic highway that was basically more of an undertaking to build travelable roadways from town to town.”
Back in 1912, good roads were few and far between. In Ipswich, South Dakota, a man named Joseph William Parmley wanted to build a good, 25-mile roadway from Ipswich to Aberdeen. By May of 1912, the idea had expanded to build a transcontinental route that included Yellowstone National Park.
“At that time,” said Gorman, “the only roads basically connected farms with rural towns. Parmley then partnered with a man from Olivia named Michael Dowling.”
Gorman was intrigued by Dowling’s story. “When he was a child, he was caught in a horrible blizzard and lost both of his legs from the knees down, lost one of his arms, and every finger on one hand except for his thumb, to frostbite. He went on to be a bank manager, a school superintendent, a principal, and also ran against Andrew Volstead. He was an incredible man who was also one of the founders of the Yellowstone Trail. In 1913, he led a three-car caravan as the first to traverse the fledgling 3,700-mile Yellowstone trail from Puget Sound, WA, to Plymouth Rock, MA.”
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