Zimmerman Trail Under Construction
The Zimmerman Trail closure continues because of the reconstruction.
While it is closed, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at what is being done.
Thanks to an inside source (my brother who is working on the project) I took a tour of the project today.
It's amazing how much work that has already been done to widen the trail as well as the amount of work that still needs to be done.
One doesn't realize the amount of work or the skill and machinery that it takes to complete a project like this.
The original Zimmerman Trail was built during the summers of 1890 and 1891 by the brothers Joseph and Frank Zimmerman, born in Germany.
Joseph immigrated to the United States in 1872; two years later, upon enlisting in the U.S. Cavalry, his duty brought him to Montana.
In 1874, Frank followed his brother to Montana where he worked for the railroad until 1883.
In 1883, after leaving the army, Joseph started a clothing store in Billings, just one mile west of Coulson.
Several years later, he bought three sections of land west of Billings and started a sheep feeding business.
It was a 32-mile round trip from his place to Boot Hill Cemetery and back to a natural spring on Alkali Creek, so Joseph sought a shorter route to move his sheep.
In 1890, Joseph brought his brother Frank back to Montana to manage his ranch and to help build the original Zimmerman Trail.
The original Zimmerman Trail passed 2-1/2 miles north of present-day Highway 3 to the spring located on the forks of the North and South Alkali Creeks.
The brothers enlisted the help of a miner named Thompson to help them build the trial.
Thompson did the blasting while the grading was done with a two-handled scraper that could hold only one yard of dirt.
It's absolutely amazing to think that just three men and two mules, constructed the entire trail.
The trail was completed by the end of the second summer.
Although the trail was completed in 1891, the original Zimmerman Trail was never used by common stagecoach carriers of that era.
The current Zimmerman Trail was finally paved in the 1940s.
This is the start of a tunnel that will run under Zimmerman Trail that connects to the bike/walking path.
After taking a trip up and down the trail while it is under construction I can tell you once it is done, it will be great and certainly wider and safer.