The Story Mill Spur is named for Nelson Story, who, in the 1880s, built a flour mill near the East Gallatin River. As mayor of Bozeman, Story was instrumental in convincing the first railroad through Montana to route through Bozeman, because he wanted a spur to his flour mill so he could ship flour to markets in Minneapolis and Chicago. The short rail line was the Gallatin Valley's largest and most used industrial rail spur until the mill's decline in the 1960s.
When Bozeman was one of four cities in contention to be the state capital in 1892, Bozeman convinced the Northern Pacific to build a passenger depot that was more impressive than the usual wood frame building. A brick depot with Romanesque style details was built, then expanded in 1923 with Prairie Style deep roof eaves and inverted knee brackets. When rail passenger service was discontinued in the late 1970s, the depot was shuttered. The depot was used as a set in the 1992 movie A River Runs Through It, written by Norman Maclean, directed by Robert Redford, and starring Brad Pitt. As of 2013, Bozeman is seeking a new owner for the depot who will adaptively reuse this historically significant building in Bozeman's Northern Pacific Historic District.
The trail begins at the depot (820 Front Street and Tamarack Street), crosses Wallace Street and the main rail line through Bozeman, then passes through a tunnel underneath I-90 and over the East Gallatin River, passes the old livestock auction site, before reaching the decaying Story Mill flour mill.
The trail itself extends beyond the rail line, which was only about 0.5 mile long, through a residential area, ending at Bridger Creek Golf Course. Another trail branches west through the East Gallatin Recreation Area. Though tracks are still on the ground, they haven't been used in many years and the trail lies in an easement owned by the city.
Parking and Trail Access