Bee Amazing MN Spotlight – Yellowstone Trail Alliance of Western MN

Yellow Stone Trail Alliance of Western Minnesota

Empowering Western Minnesota communities by aligning the arts, historic, cultural and recreational assets along the historic Yellowstone Trail |

The Yellowstone Trail Alliance seeks to align art, historical, cultural and recreational assets between a corridor of communities from Granite Falls to Buffalo Lake using the Yellowstone Trail (the first transnational highway in the northern tier of states) as the connecting thread and overarching branding mechanism.

By aligning quality of life and tourism-related assets, a larger brand is created that can serve to connect individuals and communities, re-frame their individual and collective stories, aid in the development of tourism economies and improve quality of life so as to promote population expansion and retention.


The Yellowstone Trail Alliance of Western Minnesota is inspired by the legacy of the original cooperatively constructed Yellowstone Trail as well as that of local Yellowstone Trail champion Michael J. Dowling, the incredible Minnesota man who accomplished an abundance of great feats in spite of major "disabilities." Dowling lost his legs, left arm and fingers on his right hand to frostbite when stranded in a blizzard as a boy. He persevered to become a school principal in Granite Falls and Olivia, became a newspaper publisher and successful business owner in Oliva and went on to serve as Speaker of the House in the Minnesota Legislature––as just a taste of his many, great accomplishments.

Dowling was the first president of the national Yellowstone Trail Association from 1917-1919. As president, he is credited with moving the grass-roots organization forward in leaps and bounds––helping to the community to realize the value of their cooperative efforts. Dowling declared that one day the Yellowstone Trail would bring a golden stream of tourists to all the communities along its path. The Yellowstone Trail Alliance of Western Minnesota believes it has formed on the 100th anniversary of his presidency to fulfill this promise in full. By staying true to the original legacy of the trail and the indomitable spirit of Dowling, success will be achieved.



A community that is disconnected from itself is a dis-empowered community. By connecting individual stories and assets we create avenues for shared narratives and efforts to work together cooperatively, thereby creating exponential value socially and economically. This process is essential to western Minnesota, as the past few decades has seen these communities decline in the context of an exterior narrative that diminishes the perceived value of rural areas, which is particularly problematic given that perception becomes reality.

The legacy of these communities is driven by the success found while working together to promote their mutual prosperity around this shared value system. By recalling the value of "community" and the nature of cooperative initiatives to create tides lifting all boats, the individual communities are encouraged to come together to be empowered greater success and sovereignty––while simultaneously experiencing greater interconnectedness.

Into the future

In the future, the Yellowstone Trail Alliance of Western Minnesota plans to "complete" the "Western Alliance" by extending our formal network beyond the eight community corridor that currently comprises the organization to also include the remainder of the Yellowstone Trail communities in western Minnesota running from Montevideo to Ortonville.

Additionally, we are just beginning to work with a group emerging from the Chaska area that intends to form the Yellowstone Trail Alliance of "Eastern" Minnesota. Together, we are lifting up the Yellowstone Trail brand and legacy in the state of Minnesota, which inherently also raises the profile of national Yellowstone Trail brand. In August we held our first corridor-wide festival: Follow the Yellowstone Trail. Our next event will continue moving the aforementioned initiatives forward and is set to coincide with our annual meeting, scheduled for Friday, Nov. 8 in Granite Falls.

Questions?  Contact Scott Tedrick, Yellowstone Trail President
541-543-9975 or

Connect with Yellowstone Trail Alliance of Western Minnesota