A Brief History of Cooke City
With claims staked, 1870s prospectors at Cooke City patiently waited for adequate transportation to get their ore to market. Eager enough, they named the town in honor of Northern Pacific tycoon Jay Cooke. Ironically, Cooke's influence in creating Yellowstone National Park stunted the growth of the town, as the park blocked any efforts to support a railroad through its borders. For more than sixty years, residents waited for rail until a new economy took hold--tourism. The dreams of the miners still live on in tumble-down shacks and rusty old mining equipment. And the successful vision of entrepreneurs offering rustic relaxation at the doorstep of Yellowstone continues to lure visitors. Historian Kelly Hartman recounts the saga that left hundreds battling for a railroad that never came.