The Yellowstone Kelly Interpretive Site is close to becoming a reality. The group raising money to build an interpretive center at Luther Sage Kelly’s gravesite in Sword Rimrock Park announced Tuesday major donations that puts them within $20,000 of their goal.
Bill Cole is the chair of the Yellowstone Kelly Interpretive Site (YKIS) Committee, the group raising money to build the site. He said he’s been surprised but pleased by the response to honor Yellowstone Kelly and revitalize the gravesite, that this goes far beyond Yellowstone Kelly.
Cole thought the story of Montana can be told through Yellowstone Kelly.
"He's a representative of a fascinating time in our history through the 1850's, '70's and '80's, which was the time period when Billings came into existence," Cole said.
At Tuesday’s ceremony Cole announced an additional $100,000 pledged, with $80,000 from Singh Contracting, $15,000 from KOA and $5,000 from First Interstate Bank.
Cole said their immediate goal is to raise those remaining dollars, then they should be able to go out for bids this fall and begin construction in the spring.
The announcement included the Billings Chamber of Commerce’s annual wreath laying ceremony. It fulfills a promise made to Kelly’s widow decades ago to honor her husband. Not only was Kelly’s military service honored, but so was the service of other military veterans present. Also present at the ceremony was the Casper Aviation Platoon whose members received appreciation certificates for their service to the country.
Kelly and his wife Mary lived their final years in Paradise, CA. A contingent from that community was in attendance to read a proclamation from Paradise and presented a check for $1,000 to the YKIS committee.