All Tours: 54

The earliest historical sites in Montana reflect the period of transition when European building ways and property ownership ideas marked a land long in use by Native Americans. The nomadic lifestyle of Montana’s indigenous people resulted in…

Mining significantly impacted Montana’s history and shaped the built environment. The first Montana Gold Rush in the early 1860s set the stage for massive change. Upon the discovery of gold, boom towns soon dotted the territory and drew many people…

The surge of industrial activity near the end of the 19th century coupled with the arrival of homesteaders created a demand for transportation more efficient than stage coaches and freight wagons. Railroads met this need with the Utah and Northern…

The rapid expansion of American cities between 1890 and 1920 created a social environment which concerned many civic leaders. Efforts to counter the perceived vices of urban living included the construction of lending libraries to cultivate the…

Hi Bug was a schoolyard term coined in the 1920s in reference to the wealthy and high-society residents of north Red Lodge. Developed between 1890 and 1930, the area’s location north of the coal mines yet near the railroad station, city schools,…

Long before fur trappers entered the Bighorn Valley, Crows, Sioux, and Cheyennes vied for the area’s abundant game. In 1876, Sioux and Cheyenne warriors defeated the U.S. Army at the Battle of the Little Bighorn; the following year, the Army…

Rapid growth of the young town of Red Lodge coincided with the arrival of the Northern Pacific Railroad’s branch line in 1889. The area became Montana’s leading coal mining region. Town lots were platted by the secretary of the Rocky Fork Town and…

Great Falls began with an act of imagination. In 1882 entrepreneur Paris Gibson looked at the broad flat plain near the cataracts of the Missouri and envisioned a booming metropolis. By the next year, Gibson had convinced railroad magnate James J.…

Butte was driven to life by the rich mineral resources that lay underground. Gold and silver mining brought the city's population of forty men and five women in 1866 to 14,000 by 1885. However, it was Butte's copper, critical to the…

Great Falls founder Paris Gibson was drawn to the power of the falls of the Missouri where he vowed to found an industrial center of “unsurpassed beauty.” Backed by railroad magnate James J. Hill, Gibson hired H. P. Rolfe to plat the townsite in…

Founded in 1846 as the fur trade transitioned from furs to buffalo robes, Fort Benton was both a trading post and a center for distribution of Indian annuities. In the early 1860s, Montana’s gold rush and the initiation of steamboat traffic made the…

The development of this elegant residential neighborhood reflects Miles City's second growth spurt in the early twentieth century. Although the population of this "cowtown" waned between 1890 and 1905, the advent of the Chicago, Milwaukee and…

The Main Street historic district reveals Miles City’s major growth periods of 1882-1887, 1905-1920, and 1935-1940. The first of these began with the arrival of the Northern Pacific in 1881, when imposing brick business blocks began to replace the…

Glendive took root as a steamboat landing on the Yellowstone River and as a railroad center in the middle of prime stock country. When the Northern Pacific reached Glendive in 1881, its first cars transported buffalo hides and bones back to the…

Backed by the powerful San Francisco syndicate of Hearst, Haggin and Tevis, Marcus Daly built the world’s largest smelter (combined upper and lower works) on Warm Springs Creek between 1883 and 1889. Along with the smelters, Daly envisioned a…

Attracted by the opportunity to work at Marcus Daly’s copper smelter, thousands of immigrants came seeking work in Anaconda. Many were from Ireland, like Daly himself, but skilled and unskilled workers also came from a myriad of foreign places. Most…

Marcus Daly watched with pride as Anaconda steadily gained momentum after its founding in 1883. While Daly’s social and political ambition was reflected in the elegant downtown Montana Hotel, Anaconda Company managers, city officials, and other…

In 1879, Metis—people of French and Chippewa-Cree descent—homesteaded in this area, near the army’s Camp Lewis. Many street names memorialize these settlers, who included Francis A. Janeaux and Paul Morase. But open range cattle ranching, nearby gold…

Lewistown’s elegant commercial district was constructed during central Montana’s most prosperous decades, from 1900 to 1920. That era of good weather, and railroad and government publicity, drew thousands of homesteaders into the area. Lewistown grew…

As the town of Kalispell ended its first decade in 1901, the Kalispell Bee reported that the “artistic and modern” residences would well ornament a much larger city. Dozens of spacious Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, and vernacular style East Side…

As the tracks of the Great Northern Railway inched westward from St. Paul to Seattle, Flathead Valley towns vied for designation as the railway’s division point. In the spring of 1891, however, railroad officials purchased land from the Reverend…

Small farms and orchards dotted the fourteen blocks of this residential neighborhood when the original townsite of Kalispell was platted in 1891. Soon a few wood frame buildings were constructed on its lots for temporary housing and to provide…

The elaborate homes of the Bon Ton Historic District reflect the tastes and aspirations of Bozeman’s economic and cultural elite. Its residents included the presidents and managers of successful businesses and the doctors, dentists, lawyers, and…

Impetus for the development of this late-blooming district began in 1890 with Bozeman's bid for designation as state capital. Instead, Bozeman received the state's agricultural college, built approximately where the hoped-for capitol…

Leading wagon trains to the booming gold camps of Bannack and Virginia City, miner-turned-guide John Bozeman recognized the agricultural potential of the Gallatin Valley. At his direction in 1864, William Beall and Daniel Rouse laid out a townsite.…

Philipsburg’s early-day fortunes ebbed and flowed with mining. Today, its historic district is one of Montana’s best preserved late-nineteenth-century mining towns, with commercial, public, and private buildings dating from the boom period of silver…

The Havre Residential Historic District represents Havre’s economic growth and social change from 1895 to the 1940s. Located primarily at the district’s northwestern edge, turn-of-the-century homes of the social and business elite are large…

According to the United States War Department, Fort Assinniboine was established in 1879 “for the purpose of protecting the citizens of Montana from the hostile incursions of Indian tribes dwelling in that region; and especially … the Sioux which had…

The crooked path of Last Chance Gulch, weaving between original mining claims, memorializes Helena’s chaotic beginning as a gold camp in 1864. Within a year of the placer gold discovery, a boomtown flourished, with homes and businesses in tents and…

This first permanent settlement of the gold camp at Last Chance Gulch offers a glimpse of early Helena from the late 1860s to the 1890s. By the 1870s, a Catholic cathedral, St. John's Hospital, two schools, and dormitories presided over the…

The physical link between the earliest settlement of Helena and the ceaseless efforts to fully exploit the area’s mineral potential is nowhere more clearly apparent than in this narrow district, settled on mining claims. After the first local gold…

The spectacular gold deposit discovered in Alder Gulch on May 26, 1863, led to the rapid growth of this colorful and legendary gold camp town. Thousands of fortune‑seekers rushed to the area, and by 1864 the Virginia City area boasted 30,000…

Missoula’s evolution from trading post to railroad center, university town, and federal government hub is revealed in this distinctive downtown residential neighborhood. Francis L. Worden, among Missoula’s most influential early merchants and…

Fort Missoula, established in 1877 to provide military control over western Montana’s Indian tribes and protect local settlers, was the only permanent military post west of the Continental Divide. There was little conflict, but the fort’s…

Nestled in a watershed tributary of the Clark Fork River, Lower Rattlesnake drainage has a long and significant history. Salish Indians named Rattlesnake Creek Kehi-oo-lee, and Captain Meriwether Lewis recorded the creek’s existence in his homeward…

Ancestors of the Salish and Pend d’Oreille lived in this area for thousands of years, and tribal members continued to gather bitterroot in South Missoula into the 1960s. The neighborhood’s non-Indian development accelerated after construction of the…

This colorful district charts Missoula's transformation from rough frontier town to established community. When the Northern Pacific Railroad chose Missoula as its division headquarters in the 1880s, the burst of activity brought investors,…

Generations of Northsiders have grown up in the shadow of the railyards since the Northern Pacific Railroad’s arrival in 1883 transformed Missoula into a modern city. Accepting land as an enticement from A. J. Urlin and other leading businessmen, the…

An 1881 act of Congress granted the Territory of Montana seventy-two sections of land to use in funding a university. When the Montana legislature finally created the University of Montana in 1893, the Missoula community expressed its support by…

As the Northern Pacific Railroad pushed its tracks westward in 1882, representatives arrived at this bend in the Yellowstone River to open a company store. They pitched a tent, stocking it with 140,000 pounds of goods hauled by ox-drawn wagons. Other…

Livingston was inextricably tied to the railroad, but its business community also influenced the town's character. After 1900, professionals and entrepreneurs built new homes on the Westside when the expansion of downtown encroached on the…

Situated on a key gold rush trail, Deer Lodge grew into an important ranching and retail center during the 1860s. By 1869, the thriving village boasted grocery stores, harness and saddle shops, barber shops, photography galleries, blacksmiths,…

Hamilton was born of the Anaconda Company’s voracious appetite for lumber, nurtured on the Bitterroot apple boom, and sustained by medical research. Copper King Marcus Daly—whose Big Mill cut millions of board feet annually to feed his mines and…

The architectural character of this pleasant district was initially shaped by copper king Marcus Daly. Between 1890 and 1905, Daly's Anaconda Copper Mining Company constructed substantial high style residences for its managers and modest houses…

Captain William Clark trekked through this area on his journey down the Yellowstone River in 1806. By the time General George Armstrong Custer passed by en route to the Little Bighorn in 1876, homesteads dotted the area. As the Northern Pacific…

Founded for the railroad, Forsyth’s residential neighborhoods were platted in 1882 but much of the land lay undeveloped until the 1900s. Forsyth’s first-generation homes were simple dwellings rapidly constructed of wood or log to serve the immediate…

From its roots as a pre-1900s cattle town to a farming community after the turn of the century, Wibaux well illustrates the transformation borne by many small Montana towns. This historic district reflects the high point of the town’s influence as an…

Offering an eclectic architectural mix, Old Town tells the story of Billings’ growth. The Northern Pacific founded the community as a railroad hub in 1882, and by the end of 1883, some 400 canvas tents and crude buildings lined the streets. The 1882…

At the turn of the twentieth century, Billings was ready to shed its frontier image as a rough-and-tumble cowtown and emerge as a regional commercial center. Billings was already at the juncture of the Northern Pacific and the Chicago, Burlington,…

The federal government’s strategy for populating a newly claimed territory and limiting land use by Native Americans led to a series of Homestead Acts passed between 1862 and 1912. Under these acts the government promised hundreds of acres of free…

The establishment of governance in the area eventually to become Montana is a decisive example of order in a frontier region. Upon arrival in what was then Idaho Territory, settlers and gold-seekers established quasi-governments to bring order and…

The impact of transportation on Montana tourism cannot be understated. Boarding houses, hotels, liveries, and way stations supported nineteenth century travelers in Montana, while remaining an integral part of a town’s commercial district. In fact,…

Austin and Hattie North established the North Elevation Subdivision in 1905. Within walking distance of McKinley Elementary and Billings downtown, “the Elevation” was a commonsense extension for the Yellowstone River Valley’s fastest-growing city.…

Montana’s gold rush and the lure of free farmland brought waves of fortune-seekers and homesteaders to Montana Territory between 1864 and 1918. The families who settled Montana’s rural areas throughout the late 1890s and early 1900s, valued education…