GVLT to Upgrade Gallagator Trail Bridges
Did you know that the Gallagator Trail is an old railway line? In 1908 local groups raised $800,000 to build an interurban train called Gallatin Valley Electric Railroad to take passengers, mail and cargo from Bozeman to Salesville (now Gallatin Gateway). The fare was fifty cents (what a deal!) and the 21.8 mile trip took about an hour each way. The line was soon purchased by the Milwaukee Railroad and a steam powered engine was added. This slow moving passenger train was dubbed the Gallagator by locals. The last freight train rumbled by on this bed in 1978 and the name stuck when it was converted into a trail and linear park in 1988.
The decking and railings on the three bridges along the Gallagator Trail are old and in need of repair. While the structure is solid (they were engineered to carry trains!) the current decking is pitted, splintering, and creates safety concerns for bicyclists. GVLT will be partnering with the City of Bozeman to replace the decking in a perpendicular orientation which is much safer for bicyclists. We will also be installing new, more secure railings to allow for safe viewing of the streambed below. Recently GVLT installed trail counters on the Gallagator Trail to see just how much traffic the trail receives and we’ve been blown away by the numbers. With 800-1,000 users per day in the summer along this stretch of trail, the safety improvements are important for our community.
GVLT secured grant funding for this project from the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy and the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Recreational Trails Program. The overall cost of this important trail improvement is around $40,000.
Please note that portions of the Gallagator Trail between Church Ave. and Garfield Ave. will be closed for up to a week in mid-October while work is completed. We will be sharing maps on social media and on our website that show the trail closure and suggested detours. Thank you for your patience as we improve this great community trail.
And next time you’re riding or biking down the Gallagator, imagine a steam engine train rumbling along beside you with passengers looking out the window on their way to Gallatin Gateway. History truly is all around us!
Portions of the Gallagator Trail will be closed during bridge repair starting Monday October 9th through the 20th. Please review the detours around both north and south bridges on the trail.