GALLATIN GATEWAY – Madison River Propane’s new 18,000-gallon storage tank sits beside Gallatin Road just south of Storm Castle. The Belgrade-based company installed the tank on the parcel of leased pastureland on Sept. 6.

“The demand for fuel in Big Sky requires we make more than one delivery a day up there,” said owner Ken Weskamp. Without the new tank – which was installed by a crane – his driver would have to make two trips from Belgrade daily.

Weskamp, who’s been working in the propane industry in southwest Montana for 25 years, opened the company in February. He admits the big white tank is an obvious eyesore and hopes to mitigate that by covering it with a wrap. The wrap will be a photograph of the surrounding area “to try to get it to blend in.”

“I feel bad I had to put a tank up there in that location, so I’m trying to do everything I can to make it as safe and as appealing as possible,” Weskamp said.

In addition to the wrap, this means extra safety features in the form of internal pneumatic valves. “If a fire goes through the area, or a car runs into it, or someone vandalizes it, there’s no way of getting product out of that tank,” Weskamp said.

In total, there are five propane companies in the area, Weskamp said, and all of them have storage facilities in Gallatin Canyon or Big Sky. Most, in fact, have 30,000-gallon tanks.

Madison River is full service, meaning it does everything from installing residential appliances and running gas lines to filling propane and fixing gas leaks. The majority of its business happens during the winter, and on a typical day the company delivers 6,000 – 9,000 gallons of propane.

The company also is involved with emergency response training for fire departments.

Big Sky and Gallatin Gateway make up 30 – 40 percent of his business, Weskamp said. “I saw a need for what I had to bring to the table – a full service propane company. We’ve been very busy.”