Yellowstone Trail Association

The Thorp Courier (Thorp, WI)
March 26, 2008
Transcribed by Dolores Mohr Kenyon


 John & Alice Ridge of the Yellowstone Trail Association work to educate the area of how the Trail can be used to market small towns. 

Yellowstone Trail Featured at Owen-Withee Business Persons Dinner

How Trail can be used to market area is the focus

logoIn February, the Owen-Withee Area Chamber of Commerce (OWACC) and the Owen-Withee Area Development Corporation (OWADC) held their Annual Businesspersons Dinner, which this year featured guest speakers John and Alice Ridge of the Yellowstone Trail Association.

The Ridges are retired University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire professors who became advocates of this nearly-forgotten “trail” and its comeback nearly 80 years after it faded into the background.  The Yellowstone Trail was arguably the first transcontinental automobile highway through the upper United States, and one of the earliest transcontinental automobile routes in the world providing safer and more comfortable travel.  This Trail snakes through Wisconsin, and in this region passes through Abbotsford to Cadott and beyond.

In short, the Yellowstone Trail Association acted similar to how AAA acts today.  The Association was largely made up of businessmen/Chamber of Commerce members in little towns who wanted to boost their town’s economy by being on well-used roads.  And, this was the theme of the Ridge’s presentation: how the Trail can be used to help promote small towns once again.  Some ideas the Ridges had regarding the Trail’s uses to promote area tourism, businesses, and general interest include the items below.

Add to school curriculum:

  • Take kids on bus tours to buildings, businesses, and museums along the Trail.  There are also books and even a video on the Trail.
  • Urge kids to paint rocks marking the Trail yellow just as they did in 1915.
  • History classes could research buildings and businesses along the Trail through the years and publish their findings.
  • Search out local tales and news from the days of the Trail as a school project.

Undertake promotion of sings, markers, and displays:

  • Piggyback Trail Days (locally in April when “cleanup of the Yellowstone Trail” occurs) to coincide with a major local event (i.e. annual fair, well-known festival).
  • Setup informative boots at events, decorate a float in the parade, or put pennants on an antique car.
  • Erect signs on Highway 29, add Yellowstone Trail logo to already-existing Highway 29 signs, or hang street banners.
  • Put up a display at the local library.
  • Put up historic interpretative signs in front of historic buildings or areas.
  • Brand area, publicize, and satisfy tourists:
  • Place “On the Yellowstone Trail” on business stationary, sales receipts, invoices, etc.
  • Name a bowling league, curling club, antique car club etc. “Yellowstone Trail”.
  • Include “On the Yellowstone Trail” in publicizing or events on or close to the Trail.
  • Offer unusual tours of local farms, plants, etc.
  • Print a walking tour map of the community with interpretative information.
  • Keep supporting efforts of Highway 29 Community Partnership and of other groups along Yellowstone Trail locally and beyond to help bring tourists from near and afar to the community.

The Highway 29 Community partnership, which has become an advocate for the Yellowstone Trail in this area, has planned Trail Days for April 18 (cleanup of the Trail markers), a seven-community thrift sale along the Yellowstone Trail (“Sale-ing along the Yellowstone Trail from C to C”) on May 16 & 17, and a classic/antique car run (“Sociability run”) for June 14 & 15.

Help support the efforts of the Highway 29 Community Partnership and Yellowstone Trail Association to promote the area using the Yellowstone Trail.

To learn more about the Yellowstone Trail or the Highway 29 Community Partnership, see or





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