Gallatin Gateway Montana History – Salesville MT, Slabtown
The Gallatin Gateway, Montana (Lat 45.5915958, Long -111.1977304) community, fifteen miles SW of Bozeman, Montana, is 5.92 miles within a 2502 mile region in the SW corner of Montana’s Gallatin River Valley.
The town of Gallatin Gateway, Montana is located along U.S. Route 191 in the valley of the Gallatin River, a north-flowing tributary of the Missouri River. US 191 leads north, then 13 miles east (21 km) to Bozeman and then 28 miles south (45 km) to Big Sky, Montana.
The town was platted as Salesville–nicknamed Slabtown–July 13, 1883. The town was named for Zachary Sales, who purchased land from a Tomlinson, and started a saw mill, located at the town’s west end, near the first bridge crossing the Gallatin River, which he used to float logs from the mouth of the Gallatin Canyon to his mill.
Originally Salesville, but changed to “Gallatin Gateway” about 1927, the town first schooled its children at a log cabin near Wilson Creek around 1884. Today, Gallatin Gateway School is a rural, K-8 school, serving about 150 students.
Salesville’s Post Office was built June 10, 1880, and the regional railroad brought mail to Bozeman, Gateway, and Belgrade. The community church was built in 1885, using the Gallatin River for baptism. And, like so many frontier towns, Salesville-Slabtown had its share of saloons and gambling halls.
To foster Yellowstone National Park tourism, the Gallatin Gateway Inn, offering 28 guest rooms, was built in 1927 by the Milwaukee Railroad as a transfer station for Milwaukee Railroad passengers to deboard the train and board buses for the trip to Yellowstone National Park.
As part of this promotion of tourism to the Park, on August 1, 1926, the Railroad built just before the entrance to Gallatin Canyon a large wooden arch–the Gateway–from which the town gets its name.
On June 17, 1927, the Inn’s dedication day, about 2000 locals, tourists, and Milwaukee Railroad officials heard speeches by Montana Governor, John Erickson, celebrating the Inn’s grand opening. Around this time the named was changed from Salesville to Gallatin Gateway.