The Milwaukee Road did not have a great claim to have access to Yellowstone Park. Where the NP and UP went right to park entrances in Gardiner and West Yellowstone, Milwaukee’s closest approach to a park entrance was Gallatin Gateway, 76 miles from West Yellowstone. Even the Burlington, whose station at Cody was about 50 miles from the east entrance to the park, had a better position.
Gallatin Gateway wasn’t even on the Milwaukee’s main line, so cars full of passengers to Yellowstone would be detached from Milwaukee trains at Three Forks, Montana, and towed to the Gallatin Gateway Inn, which also served as the station. The Inn had a large dining room and several, but not a lot, of guest rooms. Buses to Yellowstone Park left the Inn after lunch.
Passengers on the Olympian Hiawatha arrived in time for dinner and stayed overnight at the Inn, then got to enjoy (and pay for) breakfast and lunch before going into the park. Passengers on the Columbian, Milwaukee’s secondary train, arrived in the morning and set out for the park right after lunch. Though the Columbian took two nights to get to Three Forks and the Olympian Hiawatha only one, since the Columbian left Chicago four-and-a-half hours later than the Oly Hi, passengers saved both time and money on the lesser train. Both trains had coaches, tourist sleepers, Pullmans, and a diner, but only the premiere train had the Sky Top lounge and Tip Top lounge for coach passengers.
This brochure briefly outlines four three-day tours of the park. All started at Gallatin Gateway, visited Old Faithful and Yellowstone Canyon, and all but one also went to Mammoth Hot Springs. But only one (the one that didn’t go to Mammoth) departed via Gallatin Gateway and the Milwaukee; the others returned via West Yellowstone (Union Pacific), Gardiner (Northern Pacific), or Cody (Burlington).
Those who returned east on the Milwaukee played the same game as the arrivals: the Columbian left Three Forks at 9:20 pm, so passengers on that train didn’t need to stay at the Inn. The Olympian Hiawatha, however, left at 10:15 am, so its passengers got to enjoy two more meals and another overnight stay at the Inn.