Near Cameron in Madison County, Montana — The American West (Mountains)
Motoring Through Paradise: The Vigilante Trail
By the mid-1910s, many out-of-state and local promotors established road associations to designate roads that connected important tourist attractions, like Yellowstone and Glacier national parks. The auto associations gave the routes colorful and evocative names, like Yellowstone Trail, Park-to-Park Highway, Electric Highway and Theodore Roosevelt International Highway. In Montana, the roads mainly connected Yellowstone and Glacier
In 1923, businessmen and promoters in Madison, Jefferson, and Silver Bow counties banded together to form the Vigilante Trail Association, one of the last such road organizations formed in Montana. The trail, which conjured images of stalwart pioneers battling dastardly road agents in Montana's mining camps, provided a connection between West Yellowstone and Butte. The Vigilante Trail was marked with a round red, white and blue shield with the dreaded vigilante symbol 3-7-77 featured prominently in the middle. The route passed through country steeped in Montana's early history, including Virginia City and Alder Gulch. The 160-mile road also grazed some of Montana's best fisheries, including the Madison River, "the fisherman's paradise of the West."
Rest In Peace Taking a break by the side of the road is as old as traveling itself. In the American West, rest areas consisted of wherever you stopped and got down off you horse. Sometimes it meant getting out of a stagecoach and stretching your legs for a bit at a stage station. But with the arrival of the automobile in the early twentieth century, things became a little more complicated.
The MDT constructed it (sic) first rest area in 1934. But it was not until 1962 that the department adopted a policy and began planning for rest areas adjacent to the state's Interstate and two-lane highways. The MDT soon adopted a standardized design for restroom buildings surrounded by a park-like setting with picnic shelters, garbage receptacles, benches, and interpretive markers recounting the history of the area. The intent was to "provide small pockets of beauty along our highway in which weary motorists can rest in peace." This rest area was originally developed in 1966.
Today, highway rest areas remain an important part of Montana's transportation system. There are currently over fifty rest areas in the state. Like their predecessors, each Montana rest area is unique and provides motorists with a place to take a break, read an interpretive sign or two, and view the state's incredible scenery.
Erected by Montana Department of Transportation.
Location. 44° 54.131′ N, 111° 35.604′ W. Marker is near Cameron, Montana, in Madison County. Marker is on Forest Road 209 near U.S. 287. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Cameron MT 59720, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 3 other markers are within 11 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. A Tough Business (here, next to this marker); Earthquakes! (a few steps from this marker); The Seismic Shake that Shaped this Lake (approx. 10.3 miles away).
More about this marker. This marker is located at the Raynolds Pass Rest Area.
Also see . . . Rediscovering the Old Vigilante Trail 3-7-77 -- Montana Standard. As the old timers said, "just build a road and the tourists will find it." (Submitted on October 23, 2019, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California.)
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Credits. This page was last revised on October 23, 2019. This page originally submitted on October 23, 2019, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California. This page has been viewed 35 times since then and 3 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on October 23, 2019, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California.