Bridgers thick Virginian drawl led to the insertion of the i in todays spelling. For the next 30 years Gardiner was left to the ebb and flow of gold seekers and explorers until James McCartney, a carpenter from New York, settled a claim at the mouth of the Gardner River in 1879, becoming Gardiners first permanent resident. McCartneys claim in Gardiner came on the heels of his forced exodus from Mammoth Hot Springs as tensions with Yellowstones Superintendent grew over his illegal claim in the newly established national park. Recreating what he lost in Mammoth, McCartney built a small hotel, shop, and saloon along the west end of present day Park Street in Gardiner where the beer was said to be disappointing. McCartneys new claim was also inside the park, although no one knew it at the time since Yellowstones boundaries were imprecisely drawn.
The following year McCartney added a post office making Gardiner official and McCartney its unofficial mayor. The youthful town of Gardiner began to grow and by 1883 boasted six restaurants, five general stores, two hardware stores, two fruit stands, two barber shops, a newsstand, a billiard hall, two dance halls, four houses of ill repute, a blacksmith shop, twenty-one saloons, and a milkman, remarked one visitor. The year 1883 nearly burgeoned for this nascent community. A gold claim was discovered by Buckskin Jim Cutler (so named for the buckskin jacket he wore in an easterners misguided notion of western garb). The same year, the Northern Pacific Railroad announced that Gardiner would be the southern terminus of the Park Branch and began promoting Yellowstone as a travel destination.
But Buckskin Jim Cutlers claim sat squarely on the proposed Park Branch terminus. Cutler dug his heels in. McCartney was not happy and he and Cutler feuded over the claim and the future of Gardiner. The Northern Pacific Railroad, hoping to settle with Cutler, began laying tracks, but making little headway with the tough old codger, terminated the line at Cinnabar, three miles north of Gardiner. It was a huge blow and one that would hinder Gardiners growth for the next 20 years.One early visitor described Gardiner as no more than a collection of tents and log huts. A veritable Shantyville, Gardiner City, an ideal squatter town with the rudest houses made of unseasoned boards, with not a few tents mingling with the more pretentious huts, huddled together as though the land was valued by the foot and inch. But Gardiners residents were proud of their ramshackle town. Even after a carelessly dropped cigar in Cowell and Lewiss Saloon (on Park Street) ignited a fire that swallowed 13 houses and 19 businesses in 1889, residents believed in Gardiners future enough to rebuildno easy task without a railroad to ferry much needed supplies. In 1902, Gardiners residents breathed a collective sigh of relief when the Northern Pacific Railroad extended the tracks those last three miles.
And with their next breath residents set to work on shedding the image that there was nothing attractive [in Gardiner] nor curious enough to make [one] long to tarry, according to one early visitor. They began with the Roosevelt Archan idea conceived by Hiram Chittenden, an officer for the Corps of Engineers in charge of road design and construction in Yellowstone. In one of Gardiners proudest moments, nearly 4,000 visitors gathered around the unfinished basalt arch for the laying of the cornerstone by President Theodore Roosevelt on April 24, 1903.
The flashing swords of the officers, the martial music of the band, and the lusty cheering of the assembled multitude, admired one reporter, gave the scene an aspect which would inspire enthusiasm and patriotism in the breast of a cynic. Eight years after the cornerstone was laid, Dorothy Pardo, riding beneath the arch in a stage coach, wrote that the arch gives one the impression of spacebreadth, height, and vastnessand one wishes that no others save those who love Nature in all her moods, might ever pass through the massive stone archway marking the entrance to the Nations fairyland. Four months after the cornerstone was laid, the last rough-hewn log was set upon Gardiners new train depots stone foundation. The depot was designed by Robert Reamer, famed Yellowstone architect of the Old Faithful Inn. Its rustic character introduced visitors to Gardiners authenticity as a real western town, not simply a tourist stop.
Visitors first glimpse of Gardiner, after stepping off the depot platform, was of Park Streetthe towns main hub that was built, inadvertently, inside the park boundary so that visitors stumbling out of Tripp and Melloys Saloon did so literally into Yellowstone Park. Park Street bustled with a tailors shop, a post office, a restaurant, several saloons, a livery, and most prominent of all, W. If you want it, Hall has it from an ounce to a car load and from a needle to a saw mill, read an advertisement in a 1903 issue of Gardiners Wonderland newspaper.At last, Gardiner was beginning to shed its shantyville image. The railroad transported thousands of passengers to the Gardiner depot during Yellowstones brief summer, establishing Gardiner as one of Yellowstones most important gateway communitiesa title owed to those last three miles of track laid in 1902. Much like today, residents eked out a living on a seasonal boom and bust cycle where visitors flooded Gardiners restaurants and hotels during summer and rolled out on the last trains before winter set in. Gardiner has never been an easy place to live and few, if any, got rich providing for Yellowstones visitors. Gardiners winters were long with the population dwindling to a few hundred residents, but dances, operas, and dinners kept residents spirits high in the off season.
Many of these occasions took place on the second floor of W. For a few dollars Gardiners residents celebrated one Christmas Eve with dinner and music provided by the Cosmopolitan Symphony orchestra from the nearby hamlet of Jardine. Halls really did sell everything, including a good time.The Christmas morning paper that year read The dance given by the clerks at Halls auditorium Christmas Eve was considered by all who attended to be one of the pleasantest affairs of the kind that has taken place in Gardiner this winter. As the town grew and visitors increased so did the need for a church, schoolhouse, and community center.
Many of these buildings still grace the Gardiner landscape as reminders of the towns past. The stone and gable roofed church, Gardiners first, still provides refuge for residents and the community center stage still comes alive with plays, music, and public meetings. McCartneys struggle to make Gardiner into a viable community had been realized. But the railroads heyday began to wane.Trains and horse drawn wagons could not compete with the convenience of the automobile, however unreliable they sometimes were. In 1917 the stage coach, used to take visitors on week-long tours of Yellowstone, became a novelty as automobiles commandeered the roads. And in 1955 the last passenger trains pulled into the Gardiner depot with a group of girl scouts on board. Over the decades, the thousands of tourists became millions, but despite the increase in visitors, Gardiner has maintained its small town authenticity. It has always been more than the facade of western shop fronts, more than a tourist stopits raw mountain mood still palpable with or without the railroad. Please check my other auctions for more vintage photos. In most cases, the actual original photos are much clearer than the posted images. The item "1905 Gardiner MT TRAIN STATION Yellowstone National Park Montana Vintage PHOTO" is in sale since Thursday, September 10, 2020. This item is in the category "Collectibles\Postcards\US States, Cities & Towns\Montana". The seller is "photofella" and is located in Orlando, Florida.
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