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Billings Rims donned with pandemic memorial

Pandemic Memorial Pathway
Posted at 7:34 PM, May 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-28 21:34:23-04

BILLINGS – Yellow and pink markers placed six feet apart line the path along the Billings Rims starting at Swords Park.

Each yellow marker represents one Yellowstone County resident who lost their battle against COVID-19.

As you get farther down the path, the markers turn pink, representing each Montanan who died from the Coronavirus.

“There’s signs every hundred markers. I put a number down for 100, and then 200 and 300 along the way,” said Tom Stahley, the Pandemic Memorial Pathway coordinator.

Stahley, a retired teacher from Skyview High School, said the idea came to him when he was on a hike in the area last fall.

“The numbers were increasing very substantially and I looked around and I knew the numbers, the COVID numbers, and I thought, there must be a different way of looking at the numbers other than just reading about them and hearing about them on the news," Stahley said.

The loop path is 1.8 miles long, with a sign telling visitors when to turn around.

There’s one part of the memorial that stands out to Stahley.

“There’s a marker for a reflection point. People can look down on the city and the medical area and do some reflection, think of the people who were there, and the people that survived,” he said.

Reflection Point
You can find this reflection point along the path, with the hospital corridor in the backdrop.

Stahley recruited Skyview students to help him measure out and mark the path.

He removes the signs every night in hopes of avoiding theft and vandalism. He returns the following morning to put them back in place.

The memorial will be in place through June 6.