Story Mill Spur


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Story Mill Spur Facts

States: Montana
Counties: Gallatin
Length: 1.7 miles
Trail end points: N. Wallace Ave. and L St. and Bridger Creek Golf Course
Trail surfaces: Dirt, Gravel
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6016387
Trail activities: Bike, Mountain Biking, Walking, Cross Country Skiing

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Story Mill Spur Description

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

Story Mill Spur Reviews

For the next two years, there will be no dry-season access to the Story Mill Spur Trail - connecting the south end of Wallace Ave. to Story Mill Rd. at the Stockyard Café. The MT Department of Transportation will be rebuilding the I-90 overpass across both the trail and Rouse Ave. One lane will be rebuilt this year and the other lane will be rebuilt next year. Both years, the trail will be closed from April 5th to November 5th. Bicyclists and pedestrians can use L Street as an alternative route, but the increased volume of vehicles doing the same thing to avoid construction on Rouse may compromise the safety of this alternative.

Note that in spite of the closure you can still use most of this trail north of the interstate. Coming from the north, just cut west into the parking lot right before the construction. From the parking lot take Gold to Rouse, but not that Rouse is dreadful for bikes/pedestrians.

Note that the Story Mill Spur trail is more of a key connection than a destination in itself - though the bridge over the East Gallatin River is quite nice. This trail connects Downtown with trails along Bridger Creek, and at the East Gallatin Recreation Area and Cherry River Fishing Access.

Accidentally discovered this Trail late on 27 April 09 while in Bozeman.
Parked on dirt off N Wallace Ave. at N45.69027 W111.02755 A Historical Plaque is nearby on the side of the trail before it curves under I-90 into a straight dirt path with room for my 36 inch wide Tri-Cruiser. It soon joins along side Story Mill Road and becomes wider with packed gravel surface. Then winds through a residential area to end near the Golf course. Noel J Keller

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