Yellowstone Genealogy Forum

Pictures of Early Billings Area

(Revised 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 Border link 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. .


Shannon & Halls Drug Store - Coulson on Main Street.



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".)


First Bank of Billings looking northeast in 1883.


Stage Line Station and Block House near Pompey's Pillar, on the north side of Yellowstone River.


North side of Main Street - Coulson looking west.


View of Billings (left) and Coulson (right), with rimrocks in background. Freight Haulers in foreground.


Graded area where the rail line would be laid in Billings, looking west.


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 looking northeast. Headquarters building on the left.


View of Coulson at base of rimrocks. Taken from position at east end of Clark's Fork Bottom on the Yellowstone River.


South side of railroad grade in Billings with Rowley & Worley's office in the center.


View of Billlings looking northwest (Montana Avenue).


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’.


View from the front of the Engineer's Headquarters Building, on the north side, looking northeast, on what was later to be Montana Avenue. .