Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge
and the Centennial Valley
The Centennial Valley was well known to the Shoshone-Bannock, the Nez Perce, and other nomadic tribes as a favored travel route between the headwaters of the Big Hole River and the Yellowstone country. The wide stretches of uninterrupted native grasslands provided grazing bison with ample feed and served as their traditional summer range. Settlement by Euro-americans did not occur until 1876. Herds of livestock were driven into the valley and homesteads sprang up in scattered locations. In the early days, market hunting for waterfowl and big game brought some revenue to local residents, but most settlers concentrated on livestock and sporadic lumbering. The long winters, great distances to market, and small land parcels combined to make subsistence difficult. Few survived the depression of the 1930s.
The Monida-Yellowstone stagecoach line passed through Red Rock Lakes NWR on what is now South Valley Road and Red Rock Pass Road. Originally established in 1898, the four-horse drawn stagecoaches carried passengers between the railroad station in Monida and West Yellowstone and Henry's Lake. A note from the Madisonian newspaper from August 28, 1902, notes that the stage line "has carried over 12,000 passengers to the National Park this season and are having all they can handle every day. They have had to put on extra teams to accommodate the large number of tourists." The grand era of stagecoach travel in West Yellowstone ended in 1917 when touring cars replaced the stages. A plaque near Shambow Pond commemorates the site of the half-way house used by stagecoach travelers on their way west. Trumpeter swans and other waterfowl can now be seen on Shambow Pond.
Red Rock Lakes NWR invites you to view and enjoy the nearby historic buildings and artifacts. Please be advised, however, that altering, defacing, or removal of any historical materials from refuge property is prohibited. Shambow Pond and the immediate area surrounding it is closed to all public use and access.