Yellowstone County Photos
© 2014 MTGenWeb
of Early Billings Area
3 March 2001c)
Pictures of early Billings, Pompey's Pillar and Coulson taken on July 1,
1882 and later in 1883, are captued below. Click on the name
to retrieve the photograph. (Ref: Photographs originally
created for City of Billings in 1906, and provided to YGF. Taken earlier by
Edward Bromley - Photographer & Publisher of the Herald Newspaper in
Billings). The townspeople in Coulson had hoped that the railway would pass
through their site, but due to an unusual set of circumstances that allowed the
railroad to have adjoining sections of land two miles further east, they
created the town of Billings. This essentially destroyed the town of Coulson.
Frederick Billings - President of the Northern
Pacific Railway Company (1878-1881). Founder of Billings.
McAdow's Store & Lump's Laundry in foreground -
Coulson looking east.
Asa Fisher's Store and others in Billings. Later
became known as "Fenske's Block" located at 2623 Montana Avenue,
Billings. (Note: Some spell the name as "Fenska Block".)
Main Street - Coulson looking northeast. Freighter's
outfit in foreground.
Main Street in Coulson, with Skillen & Co's Saloon
(Headquarters Building) on corner. This was a most popular resort in the
community. Many of the town’s killings occurred here, and the victims were
buried in Boothill Cemetery (formerly Boot Graveyard). Most were buried with
their boots on. See details about Coulson.
View of Coulson at base of rimrocks. Taken from
position at east end of Clark's Fork Bottom on the Yellowstone River.
View of Billings looking north. Townsite's Company
store on corner at the rear, Camp & Miles Hardware store next, then John
Smith's Saloon on the right.
Billings Herald Newspaper store. First issue published
1 June 1882, and carried details about the murder of William Preston. Edward
Bromley & Alexander Devine were the original publishers, later Devine
operated it alone. Coulson’s newspaper, the ‘Coulson Post’, was established
January 1881 by Abel K. Yerkes, using a press he acquired from the Miles City
‘Yellowstone Journal’. Yerkes was known as the “Poet of Sour Dough Creek”,
and abandoned the town one month after the Herald went into business. Yerkes
sold out to JD Matheson (Justice of the Peace in Billings), and founder of
the Billings Gazette. Matheson later founded the Billings Times and sold it
to MC Morris. The Rustler Newspaper was founded in 1884 and consolidated with
the Post and Herald on 2 May 1885 to form the Billings Gazette. Founders
were: Charles & HF McFarlin, Matheson and Devine. On the night of the
merger, the newspaper was burned to the ground. A job press was used to
describe the fire in its first publication until they got their Minnesota
stop cylinder flat bed press to operate. The first linotype machine was
bought in 1901.
Northern Pacific Engineer's Headquarters building,
constructed in 1881 in Billings before the track was graded, looking
northeast. It was the first building in Billings. It was later moved into
what was later to be the intersection of Broadway and the railroad tracks,
and an addition was added to it to create a hotel of sorts. It also housed the telegraph office.
Early settlers enjoyed watching the trains arrive and depart, plus it was
easy access for visitors to rest in the lobby. It soon became the center for
all social affairs. Newer buildings were constructed on Montana Avenue and it
wasn’t long before the building was an eyesore. Townspeople said that only an
‘Act of God’ could save them from the eyesore and allow through street access
on Broadway. In the afternoon of 21 July 1891 it caught fire and people came
to cheer. The building was insured for $9,000. Residents lost everything. The
firemen were called ‘Mavericks’.
Yellowstone County Coordinator