The Yellowstone Trail is an old automobile route that was created across the entire country beginning in 1912 in South Dakota. Today, the route follows mostly along Hwy. 212 in the Minnesota stretch, but some of the older routes go through the middle of small towns. One of the early promoters and president from 1917 to 1919 was Michael Dowling. In 1880, Dowling suffered extreme frostbite when he was stranded outside during a blizzard. He lost parts of both legs, his left arm, and fingers on his right hand. He went on to become the principal of the school in Granite Falls, Renville and Olivia and a realtor and newspaper man. The trail was  the first transcontinental automobile highway in the United States through the northern tier of states from Washington through Massachusetts. Yet too few people are aware of its existence or its social, political and economic effects on either the local communities or the nation.

Recently, there have been efforts to revive the history of this route throughout the USA. A group of interested community leaders from Granite Falls to Buffalo Lake have been meeting to look for ways to create economic development in the string of small towns along Hwy 212. The Yellowstone Trail is one of the logical tools in this effort along with the history of agriculture and cooperatives.

The February meeting last Friday took place in Bird Island, showcasing their new Arts and Cultural Center. Convened by Scott Tedrick who is now at the Renville County Register, this is a way to connect and promote our shared heritage. Ideas about how to accomplish this are just in its infancy stages and include events such as an antique car run, long garage sale or market day, historic museums, the arts, cultural mapping of assets through the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota and Yellowstone Trail signage. More information about the trail and detailed maps can be found on their website www.yellowstonetrail.org.

National Beer Day is April 7, the anniversary of the date in 1933 when Prohibition ended with the sale of beer, followed by Repeal Day on December 5 when all alcoholic beverages could again be sold. It will be celebrated in Granite Falls this year at the Andrew J. Volstead house in the late afternoon, details are still being developed. Any restaurants, bars and shops that would like to also participate in this event which falls on a Saturday are encouraged to do so and will be included in the marketing, contact the Chamber office at 320-564-4039