Through the years, I’ve noticed signs for the Yellowstone Trail as we’ve gone on cross-country road trips to the East and West coasts. After further research, I found that the trail went through the small town of Colby, where I grew up in Wisconsin, as well as along Minnewashta Parkway, where I live nearby today.
The Yellowstone Trail was started in South Dakota in 1912 due to the rise of the automobile and the poor trail conditions and disconnected roadways. The motto for the trail was “A Good Road from Plymouth Rock to Puget Sound.” It was built from 1912 to 1917 and was in use until the 1930s, when the federal and local governments took over ownership and routes for the highways we know today.
A portion of the trail that remains is marked by the Yellowstone Trail street sign and starts on the west side of Excelsior, near Highway 7, and runs along the south side of where the Minnetonka Country Club golf course was located, up to Seaman’s Drive. From there, the trail had continued West on Highway 7 to Minnewashta Parkway, then followed portions of Highways 5 and 212 in Young America and then along 212 all the way to South Dakota.
Deanna Bunkelman is the president of the Excelsior-Lake Minnetonka Historical Society and writes about local history in her monthly column.