North Star Body and Trailer Repair in Billings, MT, has a wonderful story to tell. Don Mueller and his brothers TJ and John run this third-generation business where the doors opened in 1928. The shop was at one time called North Star Body and Blacksmith Shop.
In 2008, Don, TJ, and John, along with a few other ardent collectors, started the Buses of Yellowstone Preservation Trust. This began for Don Mueller 25 years ago when helping a friend restore a 1936 Yellowstone Park Bus. In 2000, they restored a 1938 Yellowstone Park Bus (which took two years), then another historic Yellowstone Bus came through their door, and another, and even a Glacier Park Bus. And the rest, we may say, is Yellowstone history; the Buses of Yellowstone Preservation Trust was born. A group of interested, passionate bus owners made the commitment to build this American legacy.
The enthusiasm is infectious when you hear Don talk about the trust and the buses they have. This group lovingly maintains an important part of American history. Mueller smiles through the phone when he talks about “a great barn find”—bus number 401, a 1937 Yellowstone Park Bus they found that had been in a barn in Bozeman, MT, for 45 years. Bus Number 401 went through the Trust Preservation and is now back on the roads, taking eager visitors on day trips to the Beartooth Mountains or even longer trips back through Yellowstone Park. When Bus Number 401 rolled through the Park entrance last year, it was the first time it entered Yellowstone Park since the 1960s.
The Buses of Yellowstone Preservation Trust has rented a building in Red Lodge, MT, where several buses are stored. Mueller states quite clearly, “These buses are preservations, not restorations.”
“We clean them up, do maintenance, tune-ups, brake jobs, change belts, hoses, wires, clean cooling systems; whatever it takes to keep them running.”
The five buses in Red Lodge are operable and shown off in parades and events throughout the year. During the summer months, the trust takes day trips with a picnic lunch up the Beartooth Highway as a fundraiser for the organization. The Buses of Yellowstone Preservation Trust is a 501©3 non-profit organization and does depend on contributions to exist and keep those buses on the road back to our history.
You can help keep these Yellowstone Buses on the road by sending a tax-deductible donation to this great American legacy.