The town of West Yellowstone began when in the early 1900's when the Oregon Shortline Railroad reached the area just west of Yellowstone National Park.  In its early life the town was part of the National Forest that surrounded it, and was under the control of the national government.  Lack of governmental control frustrated local business owners and merchants who sought to expand their businesses but could not under the current rules.  In an effort that took almost 15 years, West Yellowstone was eventually granted the right to incorporate as an independent town by President Woodrow Wilson in 1920, at which point it's people were free to govern themselves. 

For years West Yellowstone was largely a seasonal town, operating during the summers to cater to visitors of the nearby National Park.  Today West Yellowstone still depends on tourism for most of its income, but has the advantage of being open all year round.  The area is a popular ski resort for families during the winter months and hosts several events and festivals all year long.