The yellow buses of Yellowstone National Park became an iconic part of the landscape not long after the Beartooth Highway opened in 1936. Ninety-eight Model 706 touring buses were originally built for the park and three of them now reside in the care of Buses of Yellowstone Preservation Trust, Inc. (BOYPT).
Two of the buses (circa 1936 and 1938) are family heirlooms which are cared for and maintained by BOYPT. The third is owned by the organization and was purchased in 2011 after spending 45 years in a barn in Bozeman. Its fleet number is Bus 401 and it was built in 1937.
Buses of Yellowstone Preservation Trust, Inc. was formed in 2008. The group’s mission is to preserve or restore to original operating condition all makes and models of motorized vehicles that were used by national parks prior to World War II, and in turn share that history with others.
In September 2018, the group acquired the historic Whitcomb Garage in downtown Red Lodge. Their acquisition of the building led to the realization that a master plan would be needed to help shape the future of BOYPT and the Garage. BOYPT applied for a History Foundation grant in the fall of 2018. They were awarded $3,805 for hiring a consultant to create their master plan, which was completed by Lynda Moss of Moss Consulting in Billings.
“What that did is kind of light the fuse that got everything going for us,” says Don Mueller, president of the Buses of Yellowstone Preservation Trust board of directors. “It helped us determine the direction of the organization and what we should do first, as far as the building. It also laid out a suggested timeline and many of those strategic planning goals have been fulfilled.”
Several of the recommended short-term projects outlined in the master plan have already been completed, including an architectural assessment of the Whitcomb Garage. Displays have also been created for showcasing photographs and memorabilia within the garage. And BOYPT has updated its website with more information on the organization, including profiles of the buses and other park vehicles of the past.
Buses of Yellowstone Preservation Trust, Inc. has long-term goals in the works, as well. According to board secretary, Sue Beery Agnew, “Our journey is just beginning. The master plan grant (from the History Foundation) has provided us a solid foundation on which to build and grow, and to better serve the Red Lodge community and visitors.”