While it may look like an average vintage bus – this 11-seater is far from ordinary. That’s because this bus, plate #310, is one of a unique group of Yellowstone National Park vehicles – cars and buses that during their heyday offered many Americans their first real glimpse of the untamed wild.
It was crafted in 1925, relieved of its duties following World War II, and has spent the better part of six decades living in a barn in Washington State. But now, following an extensive restoration, this rare White Motor Company 15/45 Yellowstone bus is on the open market for the first time in 60 years. Its story is impressive, yet not without tragedy.
In the early years, if you wanted to navigate the vast Yellowstone wilderness, your choices were pretty limited – horse, mule, wagon, or stagecoach. However, that began to change around 1916. The National Park Service consolidated lodging and transportation services at the park, helping figuratively (and literally) pave the way for cars and buses at Yellowstone. First on the scene was the White Motor Company.
White’s venerable 11-passenger TEB buses ferried droves of visitors across the park beginning in 1917, followed by the company’s new and improved 15/45 chassis in 1920. However disaster struck on March 30, 1925. Yellowstone’s bus barn burned to the ground, taking over 90 vehicles with it. How would the park handle the fast-approaching tourist season with such a loss? They rang up the White Motor Company and bought 90 more. The company worked like mad to churn out the new buses, and ultimately delivered on their promise in time.
This #310 Yellowstone 15/45 bus is one of those original replacements, and is believed to be one of only a small handful still kicking to this day. Though similar in style to the earlier TEB buses, the 15/45 models feature a rounded cowl, windshield split into four sections, and an enclosed trunk at the rear, rather than a canvas boot. Lift up the hood on this beauty and you’ll still find the original numbers-matching four-cylinder engine, good for around 50 horsepower.
To many, White Motor Company’s later 706 bus is the most remembered of the Yellowstone chariots, and is still seen in limited service today at the park. But during Yellowstone’s formative mass transportation years, it’s the 15/45 that quite literally saved the day.
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