Beartooth Highway

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Beartooth Highway

Red Lodge 59068,Red Lodge Area

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Although these mountains were criss-crossed by trails used by Native Americans since prehistory, it was not until the early 20th century that many sought a permanent route over the mountains to Cooke City and Yellowstone National Park.

Beginning in 1924, a group of Red Lodge businessmen, led by Dr. J. C. E. Siegfriedt and newspaper publisher 0. H. P. Shelley, lobbied Montanas congressional delegation to construct a road between their community and Cooke City. Because of their efforts, President Herbert Hoover signed the Park Approach Act into law in 1931. The Act funded the construction of scenic routes to the countrys national parks through federally-owned land. The Beartooth Highway was the only road constructed under the Act. Construction on the $2.5 million project began in 1932.

The Beartooth Highway is an excellent example of Seat-of-Your-Pants construction with many of the engineering decisions made in the field. Some 100 workers employed by five companies blasted their way up the side of the 11,000-foot plateau. The workmen gave names to many features of the road that are still used today, including Lunch Meadow, Mae West Curve and High Lonesome Ridge. The road officially opened on June 14, 1936. The spectacular Beartooth Highway is a testimonial to the vision of those who fought for its construction and a tribute to those who carved it over the mountains.

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