Bruce has gone off the deep end over old National Park buses. "It's a hobby that has gotten out of hand," he admits. The Montana resident has ten old National Park buses, plus several other vintage vehicles. His interest extends beyond gears, fenders and windshields. He's just as excited about getting other people hooked on touring buses. To that end, he's written about the buses and helped set up the Jammer Trust, a nonprofit educational organization to preserve old buses and introduce the uninitiated to the colorful vehicles with an equally colorful past. Bruce has been interested in buses since his childhood in Iowa, where a friend ran a bus service. About 15 years ago, he visited Bill Mackay, a Roscoe-area rancher-legislator, who owned a couple of vintage Yellowstone National Park touring buses. Gracious and generous with his time, Mackay helped fan the flame of Bruce's interest in old buses in general and Park buses in particular. Bruce then found a 1931 Yellowstone Park bus, No. 351, in the Park's fleet that needed little more than paint to spruce it up. In 1999, Bruce was called in as a historical consultant to help save the Glacier buses. Eventually, Ford Motor Co. funded the renovation of 33 of the red buses that were returned to the Park.
Among the vehicles he now owns are six Yellowstone touring buses and four Glacier National Park buses. One of the Glacier buses is a 1927 Cadillac the one used in 1934 by Franklin D. Roosevelt when he became the only sitting president to visit Glacier. Unlike Yellowstone buses that are painted yellow, Glacier buses are a bright red-orange, the color of mountain-ash berry in the fall. Restoring an old bus can cost $150,000 to $200,000. Austin also has more than 10,000 items such as parts manuals, railroad schedules and photos related to vehicles. This year he was able to take Franklin D. Roosevelt’s great grandson on the same ride his grandfather went took. Bruce says that his feeling that day was as if he were living in the past and it’s a pleasure to bring these things back to life!