HISTORY LESSON … Archbold Rotarians learned that an historic trans-America highway dating back more than 100 years goes through downtown Archbold. Julie Brink (right), the director of Fulton County’s Visitors Bureau, shared the history of the Yelllowstone Trail and what groups along its path are doing to promote the historic route that was completed in 1919. Jim Wyse (left) introduced the program that was arranged by Bill Rufenacht.
Automobiles were still somewhat of a novelty in 1912 when a South Dakotan thought what better way to promote cross country tourism and commerce than by getting communities and businesses to build a good road from Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts to Puget Sound in Washington state.
The highway that became known as the Yellowstone Trail began in that state and worked its way west and east, reaching Ohio in 1916 and finally completed in 1919.
Julie Brink, Fulton County visitors bureau director, told Rotarians that in Ohio the Trail essentially follows present day Route 2 across the state’s northern counties.
As the Trail was completed, it was designated by yellow and black signs, posts or even large rocks painted yellow with the name “Yellowstone Trail” written on it.
However, in 1930 states began to use numbers to designate highways and the Yellowstone Trail name formally ended. In fact, the original Trail travelled many different roads across the country.
But, a move is afoot to restore the Yellowstone Trail as a way to encourage travelers to explore the communities that it went through — mostly smaller towns.
The Trail’s route today primarily follows two lane roads, so it’s not for people looking for the fastest route to wherever they are ultimately headed. Rather, it’s a leisurely way to tour.
Brink explained that she hopes to get communities that were on the Trail in Fulton and Williams counties to post the yellow and black signs that she is distributing or recreate the poles and rocks painted yellow that were sometimes used.
And, in the process, promote area attractions that are along or near the route.
For more information on the entire length of the Yellowstone Trail, its history and the present day routes that the Trail followed: visit the website: www.yellowstonetrail.org.