Yellowstone Genealogy Forum

Yellowstone County Towns, Train Stations & Post Offices

Monday, June 09, 2008 (Added Eschetah & Canyon City)

These towns, rail stations and post offices were extracted from the listings and addresses identified in the City & County Directories for years 1905 through 1928. Basically there is one train station site located on every six miles of rail track. Many of these locations have vanished, or turned into Ghost Town. Many of the sites are now located in other counties. Details about some of the early town’s creation are from “Western Historical Publishing Co”, published book, Yellowstone County, 978.7 WS27. Several are extracted from early maps. Some of the locations are often noted as having been in Yellowstone County, but apparently were just outside of its boundaries Fort Sarpy is an example of this. After formation of Yellowstone County, many references considered the entire Crow Reservation to be a part of the county, accounting for the location of some towns in Yellowstone, when they should be part of Custer or Big Horn Counties during the early years. Treks to some of these locations and cemeteries can be found in Dodge’s Boonies at

Yellowstone County was created Feb 26, 1883, and had a land area at that time of 2,708 square miles. At one time it had 6,000 acres. The various towns and rail stations were interconnected by stagecoach (Great Falls, Lewistown & Billings Stage Line or Billings & Lavina Stage Line). Dr. Allen was deeply interested in preserving the past, and published four books about the times in Montana. These are:

Blankets and Moccasins

Sheep Eaters, (Co-Author with Mrs. Gwendolyn, 1903.)

Adventures with Indians and Game, or “Twenty Years in the Rockies” (1913)

Black Feathers

Abundance - Post Office 10 miles northeast of Shepherd on B&M RR. Closed before 1925.

Acton - Post Office on the GNR 17 miles northwest of Billings.

Allendale - Commercial Spur on NPR 13 miles west of Billings. The townsite was platted January 6, 1893 by Dr. W. A. Allen and J. L. Guyler. In 1894 a flourmill was built and an attempt to found the town itself failed.

Anita - Train Station stop on the B&M RR located in the Crow Indian Reservation, 15 miles east of Huntley, and 7 miles east of Ballantine. Later RR changed to CB & QRR.

Antelope Station – Stage stop between Huntley and Lavina. See 1898 Montana map.

Baker’s Battle Ground – Land area denoted by the NPR survey and Sioux battle that occurred on August 14, 1872. On north side of Yellowstone River adjacent to Dover’s Island. Name gradually disappeared and site is now on private land. The 1876 Military Battle map defines the location at being about 4-6 miles north of Coulson location (eg., Billings). Tracy’s Landing is located at south end of the field. The area between the west river bank and the island was completely filled in by John Dover, and the landing is barely visible. Named for the skirmish that took place between the Sioux and the NPR survey team supported by Col. Baker. Regardless of the “artistic” attempt to portray Col Baker as a drunk, this tale was certainly unfounded.

Ballantine - Train Station stop on the B&M RR nine miles northeast of Huntley. [Congregational Church, Catholic Services, Lutheran services]

Barley - Post Office 40 miles north of Billings.

Belmont – Train stop on NPR midway between Cushman and Painted Robe.

Bew - Post Office on the NPR eight miles west of Custer.

Bighorn City – Established in 1864 by James Stuart while surveying the Yellowstone River. Located in the southeast junction of the Big Horn & Yellowstone Rivers (about one mile west of the present town of Bighorn.) Original plat was about 400 acres, although he claimed a full section for the town. Mail delivery was provided to the site for about 10-15 years, although there doesn’t appear to be any vestiges of the town, excepting perhaps a few concrete steps near the river’s edges.

Billings - County Seat and NPR main trading post. Before Billings was created, the Crow Indians used to come to the area annually during their nomadic travels. They referred to the area occupied by Billings and Coulson as “mun-a-pusk-a”, meaning “the place where they saw wood.” Several saw mills operated in the area, following in P. W. McAdow’s first mill in 1878. Billings, was more commonly called,  “Place of the Skulls”, by the Crow Indians, following a severe smallpox outbreak in their village that was located on the bluffs southeast of Billings. Accounts vary and it is not known for certain where the village was actually located. It is generally accepted that the bluffs southeast of Billings are correctly called “Sacrifice Cliff” or as Suicidal Cliff, where the Indians drove blindfolded horses over the edge of the cliff to appease angry spirits, or to simply avoid the horrors of painful death by smallpox. One of the main reasons that Crow Indians came to the Billings area was to hold horseracing contests. Foot races were also popular. A white man Charles Schneider eventually defeated their foot race champion, ‘Shorty’. In 1859, Chief Red Bear told Captain Reynolds (from a geological expedition) that the Crows were a small tribe, with sioux on one side and Blackfeet on the other. He said they wanted to be friends with the white men, but white men were not to build houses here. In 1879 Chief Plenty Coups and other tribal representatives signed a treaty that removed Cooke City and areas west of Boulder River from their reservations.

Blakeley - Post Office site established in the Crow Indian Reservation on the NPR ten miles southeast of Custer. Closed before 1905.

Bowler - Village in Carbon County, just south of the Yellowstone County line, settled in 1892 on the B&M RR & Sage Creek, 40 miles east of Red Lodge. The little town was located on three different locations; all within three miles of each other. Now a ghost town, and all evidence of buildings have vanished. The Bowler cemetery (abandoned) is located about two miles south of the old townsite, just off the west side of Pryor Mountain Road. There are 32 headstones, and the area is fenced. (Reference location for some sites in Yellowstone County.)

Brazwell Summit - Post Office & General Store on the old McCormick freight trail and Blue Creek Road, located 14 miles southeast of Laurel. Inactive in the 1918’s and closed by 1925. This place was located in Township 3S, Range 25E, at center of Section 28. City directories erroneously list it as being on the NPR rail track in the same area. There was no track over these hills. Julia A Bleau (NY) married Marcus J Woods (AL). After his death [c1917], Julia Woods homesteaded the area immediately to the north of the highest point in Yellowstone County, and named it Brazwell Summit. There she operated a stage and mail station from 1914 to 1918. [The Blue Creek Road was later relocated about 1-1/2 mile to the east after 1919.] She and Marcus Woods had the following children:

Strauss John                 b: 29 Jun 1897

Andrew Mercer            b: 8 Sep 1898

Murray Carleton           b: 15 Oct 1901 (Dublin, TX) Married Dolly Murphy; d: 3 Oct 1935 in Billings.

Robert E                      b: 10 Oct 1913

Daughter (name unknown) married Slim Bass.

Broadview - Incorporated town on GNR 48 miles northwest of Billings. [Congregation Church, Evangelical Church]

Bruckman - Post Office location, closed before 1912.

Bull Mountain - Train Station of the NPR in the Crow Indian Reservation 17 miles west of Custer and five miles northeast of Pompeys Pillar.

Camp Birdie – Campsite near to Pompey’s Pillar until the early 1880’s.

Camp Villard[1] – Not actually a town, but a temporary Army Camp where soldiers assigned to guard the NPR Construction in 1882-1883, managed by Henry Villard were stationed. Located on the Sacrifice Cliff Bluffs directly across from Coulson. This provided a good view of the area in case of an Indian attack. Abandoned after fall of 1883. In August(24th) 1882, Selgewick received a contract to become the Camp Trader.(Herald News) There are two army soldier’s names (at least two)carved into the sandstone surfaces.

Canyon Creek (Canyon) – Informal townsite established by local residents living near to where Laurel is now located, at the junction of Canyon Creek and the Yellowstone River.  Had a school, and were hoping to draw trade from Coulson. Initially it was a stage stop created in 1877.  In 1879 it consisted of a stage stop, post office and a saloon. Sid Irwin ran the store. Town plans never developed, although local residents referred to the site until about the mid 1880’s. Biographies of the residents indicate that Land Office at Bozeman opened a branch office there to simplify the homestead applications during the expansive growth of Billings. The BLM in Billings has no record of their filings. In 1879 Ed Forrest filed for his land, but his title was contested by a man named Wolverton [from Bozeman.] Ed was a bachelor, and did win out over the other person’s claim Charlie De Maris started an irrigation ditch[2].

Castle Buttes - Post Office on the NPR 18 miles north of Pompeys Pillar. Closed by 1925.

Chicopee - Train Station and Post Office on the B&M RR 8 miles southwest of Pryor.

Clermont - Train Station stop on the NPR 21 miles east of Billings. Name changed to Worden. When it was relocated from the east side of the railroad tracks to the west side. Date not established. (T3N R29E T31)

Clifton - Post Office on the NPR 3 miles north of Worden. (Closed by 1925)

Coburn - Train Station stop on the B&M RR 24 miles northeast of Pryor, and about two miles east of Billings.  Was the change-point for the 1864 Bozeman Trail emigrants heading for Virginia City. From here they went straight across to the Yellowstone River.

Coulson – Old village located near the north side of the Yellowstone River approximately one mile south of the eventual city of Billings. Actual location is in Township 1 North, Range 26 East, Section 34, on land owned by John Alderson. Closed when NPR put railroad track south of town, but a few remains of the town existed until 1930. Believed to have been established in July 1877 when John Alderson and PW McAdow moved into the area. Perry established a sawmill on his land, located south of Alderson’s. Alderson persuaded McAdow to open a trading post near where the Yellowstone River was usually traversed. Within a few months a collection of buildings sprang up around the store, and was apparently named Coulson after the Coulson Packet Company line that operated River Boats between St Louis and various points in Montana using the Yellowstone and Missouri rivers. This was the local stage stop and post office for several years. However, the name might have originated from the establishment of the “Coulson Guide” in the summer of 1876 by the surveyors. The intersection of the guide was on the prime meridian, and on the east edge of Alderson’s property section. John Alderson learned in 1881 that the railroad would pass through this area so he created and filed a land patent application for the town. Local residents believing that they would be wealthy as a result of railroad passing through (about 50 or so it was reported by the Herald) all apparently celebrated by taking off their clothes and bathing in the river. Nathan Salsbury started a stage line and soon after it became a point for cattle shipments and trades people. The railroad was pushing west, and many believed that Coulson would become the division point for the railroad to move further west, and that Coulson would become the largest city in Montana as a result. This was not to be since the railroad did not have title to ‘even numbered’ sections of land, and the eventual city of Billings sat on two adjoining odd sections of land due to accumulation of latitude corrections at the various survey guides. Lockwood was used as the storage and transfer site for construction of the bridge over the Yellowstone River.  McAdow, along with financial aid from John Schock and later Ed Kennedy, formed a ferry for crossing the Yellowstone River. John Alderson erected a hotel, and soon a saloon, blacksmith shop and other business were created. Dr WA Allen, dentist and at age 85, assisted McAdow in laying out the route to Fort Custer (near Hardin), and also operated the blacksmith shop. Famous visitors of the times were: Yellowstone Kelly, Billy Hamilton, Bill Snow, Liver-Eating Johnson, Muggins Taylor, Skookum Joe Anderson, and many others. Coulson’s first tragedy resulted in the creation of a need for a formal cemetery, and it was later named Boot Hill. According to Dr Allen (frontiersman and dentist) a group of men were discussing the town, and remarked “We have everything here but a graveyard, guess we’ll have to kill somebody and start one”, it was jokingly said. Soon after, in March 1880 [March 1880 noted on grave records], John Alderson shot Dave Currier over a dispute about the title to his piece of land adjacent to Coulson. A listing of persons buried in the site and circumstances leading to their death is available in the Boothill Cemetery Listing. The proceeds from Dave Currier’s fur trade were donated to the town’s committee and were used to refurbish the gravesite.

The railroad boom brought many rough people to the area, and soon Coulson was known as being “wild and wooly”. Saloons and dance halls covered a single main street, although three were platted. Most businesses were in tents as virtually all of the sawmills’ output was devoted to helping the railroad. When the railroad reached the Yellowstone, and Billings was created, the town went into a fast decline. George Ash and William Boots started a brewery, and for a while it still survived. Soon people living there called their address “East Billings”. For a short time a horse-drawn carriage on a track was operating between Billings and Coulson. The track ran from the junction of the railroad on Minnesota Avenue and 27th Street to 6th Avenue South, then northeast to where the Conoco refinery is currently located, and straight into Coulson’s “Main Street”. The travel distance to the end of the line was about 2 miles, although the town itself lay adjacent to the east edge of Billings. Dr Allen has published several books about the times and the Indians in the area. Local resident, Charles Bury, recalls the town’s location and businesses and has described the location in newspaper interviews, although nothing remains of the site to be seen. The freeway (I90) passes through the center of where the town was located. The railroad passed over the river about mile north of the edge of the town, thus bypassing the community entirely. By 1930 all remnants of the town were gone.

The integrated map of Coulson and Billings is presented on city map located at the Billings Engineering Office archives, titled  “Official Map of Billings 1909, by Durland.” [File 12-1, Drawing 16.] Some cross-sections from this map are available for viewing in the Powerplant section of this file. It shows Billings through 8th Street, and the integration of 9th Street connecting directly with the Powerplant being constructed by Yegen Brother’s Construction. The plant and its associated dam across the Yellowstone River was not completed at the time this map was created.

Columbus - Moderate size town 40 miles southwest of Billings. (See Stillwater for events leading up to 1894.) Horace Countryman was a trader and chose the site for a trading post. He called it Stillwater, and was located about three miles east of present day Columbus. He built a toll road on Witt Hill. He moved his trading post to the site where Columbus is located in an attempt to catch trade in Stillwater Valley. His daughter, Mary Payne Quinn, filed the original townsite claim. Countryman charged $1.00 for the first team, and $.25 for additional ones. People were initially not charged, but he soon changed that policy to 50 cents to haul people across the river in a basket used by the ferry. Riverboats operated here from 1880 to 1894, when a toll bridge was erected. Judge O. F. Goddard introduced the bill that legalized toll bridges. Charles DeWyer (Billings) platted the land in 1883. The first building was a log shack where Countryman served as postmaster and stagecoach operator. He also constructed a log hotel and saloon. Pat Lavelle had the town platted on land purchased from the railroad, adjacent to Countryman’s. In 1880 Countryman received a grant to build an Indian school, agricultural building and sawmill on the Indian Agency land for $6,510. The mill was to be run with water from the first irrigation ditch in the valley. Joe Kern, Countryman’s companion, helped get 100,000 feet of lumber out of the area. Logs were cut up to 15 miles distant. When the Indian Agency moved in 1883-1884, they abandoned the buildings. In1899 Professor P. H. Hawkins wrote: (October 6, 1899 – Billings Gazette) “The present year is, however, the red letter year in the history of Columbus. This is not a speculator’s book, but a development of the vast resources of the country. The bluffs to the north, which seemed valuable only for scenery, have been found to be the best sandstone in the state. The capitol building at Helena is being constructed of it. Already a spur of the railroad is being laid, and the vast derricks of Hager & Co. are placing the stone on the market.”

In 1900 the population was 175.  In 1907 residents made a strong effort to bring about the formation of a new county to be called Roosevelt. They failed in this, but were confident they will succeed at the next session of the legislature. After a while the residents decided they wanted to incorporate, and on April 17, 1907 by a vote of 73 to 5, the electors declared that the new city should begin a municipal existence at once.

Comanche - Train Station and Post Office on the GNRR 30 miles northwest of Billings. [Methodist Church]

Conway - Train Station on the NPR in the Crow Indian Reservation 45 miles northeast of Billings.

Corinth - Train Station on the B&M RR 22 miles southeast of Huntley.

Crockett - Train Station located on the Toluca & Cody branch line of the B&M RR in the Crow Indian reservation five miles north of Bowler. All that remains today are several slabs of concrete on the west side of the trail that were used to hold a water tower for the train.

Crow Indian Reservation - Indian Territory established in 1851 for the Absarokee Tribe (children of the large beaked bird), now called Crow, in southeast part of state. Has 2,295,092 acres of land area. When Yellowstone County was created, Helena Legislature simply attached the land to the county. Ten years later this was discovered when the government took back 1,100,000 or so acres for homesteads. The “eight+” various Bozeman Trail roads pass through this piece of land. The trail noted on the BLM and county maps approximates the Sawyer’s route he took during 1866.

Cushman – Train stop in Musselshell County, on north side of Musselshell River.

Custer - Small village & Train Station on NPR located 53 miles northeast of Billings. In the late 1880’s it was a shipping point for towns of Buffalo, Lander, Dayton, Fort Custer, and other locations in northern Wyoming.  [Union Congregational Church, Catholic Church]

Dickey - Post Office on the NPR 38 miles northwest of Custer. Closed by 1925.

Eschetah - Post Office & General Store operated by John C. Guy, south of the Yellowstone across from the east end of Pease Bottom. Steamboat landing on site, called Guy’s Landing. In operation up to 1882 when FY Batchelor delivered supplies there. (Located in T6N R35E S28) 



Fairview - Small settlement town on the NPR 25 miles from Billings.

Fattig - Country Post Office 50 miles northeast of Billings located on Fattig Creek.

Fort Alexander – Established in 1842 by Charles Larpenteur for the American Fur Company. It was located on the north bank of the Yellowstone River above the mouth of the Rosebud, and at the junction with Armell’s Creek. It replaced Fort Van Buren. It was named after Alexander Culbertson, agent for the American Fir Company. This fort was abandoned in 1850 when Culbertson built Fort Sarpy. The fort was located six miles west of Forsythe.

Fort Cass[3] – Constructed in the fall of 1832 on the south bank of the Yellowstone River; three miles below the Big Horn River Junction. Built by Samuel Tullock for the American Fur Company. [Also called Tullock’s Fort.] It was the first fort built by the American Fur Company on the Yellowstone River. [Probably named for Lewis Cass, Michigan.} In 1835 the fort closed due to pressure from the Sioux Indians. Fort Van Buren replaced this fort in the same year.

Fort Lisa (Manuel’s Fort)– Completed in October 1807 by Manuel Lisa and his fur traders, in the SW corner of the Big Horn River Junction with the Yellowstone River. George Drewyer (member of L&C Expedition, and later companion of Manuel Lisa when he started his fur trade. Actual name of Drewyer is reported to be: “Drouillard.” After the fort was built, Drewyer created a map of the local area, showing the fort’s location, date of construction, and relative distance to the Spanish settlements on the North Platte River. The map is titled: “The Big Horn River Co.”, and is available at the Library of Congress web site[4]. (Apparently this was Lisa’s fur company at the time) and was prepared on August 5, 1808. The trail leading to the settlements went due south from the fort, and on the west side of the Big Horn River. Drewyer named the fort: “Fort by Manuel Lisa.” [This map places it in Range 34, Township 5N Section 28, slightly north of where NPR crosses the Big Horn. Approximately 46 09’ 00.51”N, 107 28’ 28.12”W.]  In June 1877, WH Banfill erroneously reported that frontier history indicated that Fort Lisa was on the east side of the Big Horn River. This was apparently carried over into most history books. [Fort Pease was located about ten miles downstream from Junction City, and on the north side of the Yellowstone, according to the Banfill report.] Note: other forts in the vicinity are identified in the Banfill article. Refer to the Junction City references, listed below, for detail.

The Map of “Territory of Oregon” 1838 by Stansbury clearly places Manuel’s Fort on the west side of the Big Horn River Junction with the Yellowstone. This map was created to identify where the fur trading forts were located.

Fort Sarpy – There were two Fort Sarpy’s. The first one was located on the north side of the Yellowstone River and five miles below the Rosebud junction, and ten miles from Forsythe. It was named for John B Sarpy. Constructed in 1850 and abandoned on May 19, 1855. It was rebuilt in 1857 on the south side of the Yellowstone River 25 miles below the mouth of the Big Horn River. It was not located in Yellowstone County at the time. The fort was reported to be 120 feet square.

Fort Van Buren – Built ten miles east of Forsythe on the south side of the Yellowstone River. Located just below the junction with the Rosebud River. It was established by Samuel Tullock in 1835. In 1842 it was burned to the ground by Charles Larpenteur[5]. Charles then constructed Fort Alexander. Fort Van Buren was named for President Van Buren. It was the second fort constructed by the American Fur Company on the Yellowstone River. In 1843 the fort was abandoned.

Foster - Train station on the B&M RR in the Crow Indian Reservation, six miles from Crow Agency.

Gary Owen - Train Station on the B&M RR in the Crow Indian Reservation, six miles from Crow Agency.

Gold Bar - Train Station on the H&R Mt Branch of the NPR, 11 miles from Billings.

Hardin - Village on the CB&QRR 62 miles southeast of Billings.

Hesper - Train Station and Post Office on the GNRR 11 miles southwest of Billings, four miles north of Laurel.

Huntley - Train Station, Post Office and small town created by the NPR at junction of the B&M RR, 13 miles northeast of Billings. It was established on a site formerly known as “Baker’s Battlefield”, named for the 1872 battle. It was the head of navigation on the Yellowstone, and was one of the busiest spots in Yellowstone Valley before Billings raised its first tent. A stagecoach line stop was built for the Salsbury Stage line. Tom McGirl & Omar Hoskins owned it. They sold the property in 1880 to Hagy & Smith, who were Fort Custer merchants. Mr Dunne operated the store and local ferry for the owners. In 1882 he bought the business, but had to quit a few years later as competition from Billings grew too strong. The ferry was starting point for going to Fort Maginnis and the Barker mining districts to the north. It had a hotel, ample supply of liquor, and good food. At times there were up to seven steamboats docked there. In addition to the Coulson Packet Line, ten other steamboats made several trips during the summer. Original plans called for the railroad to cross the river at Huntley, but was changed to cross at where Coulson was located. This bridge was completed in September 1882. The railroad ended the steamboat trade, and by next year it was virtually eliminated. Some 25 years later Huntley started an irrigation project, thus renaming much of the eastern land area to the Huntley Project.

Tom McGirl was an Irish native and a veteran of the Fifth Missouri mounted Infantry.  He arrived in Montana in 1875 via New Mexico and Texas. He owned the post office building, and became assistant postmaster in 1878. After the railroad was completed, his post office was moved. When he arrived his nearest neighbors were Paul McCormick, 45 miles down river, and Horace Countryman at Stillwater. General Howard stopped at his home one Sunday while in pursuit of the Nez Perce Indians. The Indians near Canyon Creek captured the stage, which left without him. McGirl stayed in the area, raising livestock after the railroad took away his business. Other first settlers there were Black and Daniels, freighters. They selected this place as the point for a supply station for their pack trains going up and down the river. In March 1878 the Huntley post office was established, with Omar Hoskins postmaster. The station was named Huntley after S. O. Huntley of Clark & Huntley, pioneer stage contractors. After founding Huntley these persons established the stage lines in Yellowstone Park. In 1880, the census indicated there were 37 people residing in the village. At the end of May, 1877 packet steamer, Josephine, under the command of Captain Grant Marsh, made its second stop at the town to conduct trade; the first time it stopped there on June 6, 1875 while under the command of Colonel Forsythe. On July 6, 1879, the steamer J. Y. Bachelor, piloted by Captain Grant Marsh, arrived with a large consignment of freight for Bozeman. The little village became the head of navigation on the Yellowstone, a position it exclusively enjoyed until the railroad arrived in 1882. In 1885 the town had a post office, two stores, a hotel, and a blacksmith shop. [German Lutheran Church, German Methodist Church]

Huntley Project – Irrigation District established in 1904 by Congressional Act where the Crow Tribe transferred approximately 35,000 acres of undeveloped land to the government for their administrative use in homesteading. On April 18, 1905 the government established an irrigation project consisting of a canal, distribution system, and a pumping source with its intake at the Pryor Creek junction. The lands within the Project were opened for entry on 22 July 1907. The land sales started with 582 farm units consisting of 40 acres each. Applications were made by random drawings. Farms required that a residence be completed and the farmers had to build their own ditches from the canals[6].  The land is 27 miles long and four miles wide. It extends from Huntley east towards the Bull Mountains.

Huntley Station – Stage stop on east side of Yellowstone River. See Huntley above. Was forerunner of “Huntley.” Location was identified on 1898 Montana R&M map. It was the site of the Baker Battle. This wasn’t a military battle, but an encounter with the Sioux by the Corps of Engineers survey party. Official government documents about the “battle” are located in the corps’ files, presented in the 3rd session of the 43rd Congress.

Junction City - Train Station and Post Office on the NPR 53 miles northeast of Billings and located on the north bank of the Yellowstone River, under a high bluff that protects the town from northern winds in the winter. It is across from the Big Horn River outflow. In the summer of 1877 General Sherman established a supply depot there for the army on the south side of the river. He named it Cantonment Terry, in honor of General Terry. In June 1877, William Taylor opened a small trading store at the site of future Junction. His patrons were Crow Indians and soldiers. It was named Terry’s Landing. When the stage line was created, it became one of the stops. Until 1880, it was of little importance. At that time, there were 41 residents resided in the surrounding countryside called Sage Brush. When NPR passed through, things did not change very much. It was considered to be a “typical” western town. People there traded with Fort Maginnis, Fort Custer, and the local mines. Junction City was platted and approved by the Custer County commissioners on March 8, 1883. Property ownerships for most of the town are located in the Yellowstone County Courthouse.  On April 5, 1883, a large portion of the business section of the new town was destroyed by fire, entailing a loss of $10,000. In 1888 the population was 200.  Historical remarks compiled in pdf, 12 pages. Pictures of some of the town can be found in Paul McCormick’s bio and related entries.








Jupiter – NPR train station between Laurel and Park City.

Keiser - Train Station on the B&M RR nine miles northeast of Pryor.

Kurtzville – Temporary town created illegally on the Crow Indian Reservation across the Yellowstone River, ten miles east of Junction City. Formed by Thomas Kurtz who had a commissary contract with NPR during its construction in the area. When the railroad passed through the Big Horn River area, the town disappeared. Thomas Kurtz was co-founder of Fosters Addition along with Fred’s parents. This town was considered to be the worst one in the west. [Junction City Article by W. H. Banfill]. The town later apparently became Big Horn City.

Laurel - Train Station, Post Office and small town located 17 miles southwest of Billings on the NPR at junction of the Rocky Fork Branch (Red Lodge and Bridger). Contains one of the largest railroad roundhouses in the entire west. Laurel is a product of natural tributary conditions. Soil of the neighboring farms is fertile and lying under a series of immense irrigation ditches, all kinds of farm produce are marketed here. Laurel came into existence in 1889, when NPR line was built from there to Red Lodge. Rocky Fork Town & Electric Company recorded the land plat on December 5, 1889, by the. For many years the town made little advancement, and was primarily known as a railroad junction point.

Lawson - Train Station & banking point on the NPR five miles southwest of Custer and 4 miles NE of Waco, where PO is located.

Lockwood - Train Station (now suburb of Billings) located on the NPR 6 miles east of Billings.

Mifflin - Train Station on the Cody branch of the B&M RR 34 miles southeast of Pryor.

Misko – NPR train station between Columbus and Rapids.

Morin - Train Station on the B&M RR 17 miles northeast of Pryor..

Mossmain - Post Office on the NPR & GNR three miles east of Laurel. Created by Preston Moss for use as a train terminal. Failed to grow as rail terminal.

Musselshell - Small town settled in 1882 as center for cattle and wool. Located on the NPR and Musselshell River 68 miles northeast of Billings.

Newton - Train station on the NPR 26 miles northeast of Billings, four miles northeast of Worden.

Newton Grove - Post Office on the NPR 20 miles northwest of Custer.

Nibbe - Post Office on the NPR four miles west of Pompey's Pillar.

Osborn - Train Station and Post Office on the NPR 17 miles east of Billings, 4 miles east of Huntley.

Oswald - Train Station on the NPR nine miles northeast of Bowler.

Painted Robe - Train Station on Billings & Great Northern Railway, 54 miles northwest of Billings, and just northwest of Broadvoiew.

Park City - Small town, Train Station and Post Office located on Yellowstone River and NPR 23 miles southwest of Billings. It began in June 1882 when a colony from Ripon and other nearby communities in Wisconsin came to Yellowstone Valley and invested in property at the head of Clark’s Fork Bottom, and started the town. Building of the town continued without interruption. The town site was platted all at once, but not filed until September 4, 1882, by E. P. Searles. In August 1882 they were successful in getting a post office named Park City. Alonzo Young, postmaster of Young’s Point stage route stop a few miles east of the new town, received notice on August 4, 1882 that the postal stop and name was changed, and the stage route redeployed from his place to Park City. He was requested to relocate to Park City to conduct business. Alonzo did. An irrigation canal was added, but the town didn’t flourish, since it was too close to Billings. The town was named in honor of Herman Clark.

Peritsa - Train Station on the Burlington RR midway between Fort Custer and Toluca.

Pineview - Post Office located on a ranch on the NPR 65 miles northeast from Billings, fifteen miles south of Musselshell, and 25 miles northwest of Custer.

Polytechnic - Post Office and suburb to Billings located two miles west of Billings. Billings Polytechnic Institute (Rocky Mountain College) now located here. [Congregational Church, Polytechnic College]

Pompey's Pillar - Train Station on the NPRR main line 29 miles northeast of Billings. Became a town, name changed to 'Pompeys Pillar. [Catholic Church, Union Congregational Church] Historic Site is the 200-foot high rock where Captain Clark stopped on his journey. Sign shown below (1947 by Kimmel) was replaced by newer version.

Text Box:

Pryor - Post Office and B&M RR Sub Agency site on Crow Indian Reservation, 32 miles south of Billings.

Rapids - Post Office and Train Station on NPR 32 miles southwest of Billings, and eight miles southeast of Columbus. Closed before 1905. In 1877 Isaac M. Hensley started ranching there. The post office was established in 1881, with Hensley as postmaster.

Rimrock - Train station on the GNR 10 miles northeast of Laurel, and 4 miles north of Hesper.

Ronald - Train Station on Cody branch of the B&M RR eight miles west of Toluca and 24 miles northwest of Fort Custer.

Roundup - Rural Post Office on the Musselshell River 45 miles north of Billings.

Rouse’s Point – Stage stop on the Miles City to Bozeman road. Located upstream of Bela Brockway’s place.

Shepherd - Village on the B&CM RR 17 miles northeast of Billings. (Shepherd was originally called New Holland. Many of the settlers in this area are buried in one side of the churchyard and many people call it the Holland Cemetery.  Courtesy of Sharon Wolski) [Christian Reformed Church, German Evangelical Church]

Shorey - Train Station on the GNR 15 miles north of Laurel, and seven miles south of Acton.

Southdown - Flag Station on the B&M RR in Crow Indian Reservation, 1 mile from Huntley.

Stickley - Post Office on the NPR 26 miles northwest of Billings.

Stillwater – The early history of Columbus is found here. The name change took place on January 1, 1894. This location enjoys the distinction of being the home of the first settlers in Yellowstone County. Actually, it was the lowest point on the river to receive white settlers. Horace Countryman, C. H. Countryman and W. H. Norton settled on land two miles west of the present town of Columbus and opened a trading post in the spring of 1875. [Before May.] In 1877 when the stage and mail line passing along side of the river was established, he became proprietor of the stage station at his place. A post office was established and named Stillwater. Horace became post-master and held the post for several years. When the NPR built their line through the valley in 1882 they established a Rail Station two miles east of Horace’s station, [at the site of present Columbus] and it also was named Stillwater. The post office was relocated to the new Stillwater, and in a short while a small village appeared.  Horace and C. H. Countryman built a hotel and established a ferry to cross the river. W. H. Norton started a general store business, as well as J. I. Allen, another old-time Yellowstone Valley resident. Allen was previously an interpreter, guide and hunter. A school was established and Mrs. Wilkinson was its teacher. Stillwater didn’t grow as fast as many of the towns that came into being with the building of the railroad, and no ‘BOOM’ was created. The few businesses enjoyed prosperous trade, and the place was considered established. Montana and Minnesota had similar postal abbreviations (MT & MN), and Minnesota already had a town named Stillwater, causing many problems with delivery of express and mail to its town. Thus NPR decided to change the name of the Montana town (Rail Station) to Columbus. Superintendent Dorsey, of NPR, suggested the name. A petition was created asking that the change be made and the request was sent to the post office department. In August 1893 the postal department approved the name change effective January 1, 1894. NPR changed the station name to Columbus on the same date. At this time, there were about 150 persons there.

Summit - Post Office and settlement 30 miles northeast of Billings.

Terry’s Landing – Small village on the Yellowstone at the Big Horn River Junction. Some consider that it was renamed Junction City, but was actually located on the south side of the Yellowstone Rive, across from Junction. It was a military supply depot.

Thurza - Post Office 25 miles east of Billings, near Pryor. (Closed in 1905)

Toluca - Train station on B&M RR 16 miles northwest of Fort Custer. It is the junction point for the Burlington and Cody branch lines.

Twenty Mile - Settlement 20 miles from Billings on the NPR.

Twin Buttes – Post Office 14 miles northwest of Custer on the NPR, and nine miles south east of Newton Grove (relocated PO).

Waco - Train Station & PO  on the NPR nine miles southwest of Custer.

Wanetta - Post Office on the NPR 21 miles southwest of Pompeys Pillar.

Watts - Train Station on the CB&QRR located three miles east of Ballantine, and five miles east of Worden.

Wickett - Train Station on the NPR 12 miles north of Laurel, and four miles north of Hesper.

Wolf Spring - Post Office located 55 miles northeast of Billings. Closed by 1912. It was on both the stage and mail lines.

Worden - Village of the NPR 21 miles northeast of Billings. [German Congregational Church, Methodist Church, The Yellowstone Newspaper] Named for Joseph M Dixon’s wife. It was a stopping point for freight trains to take on a load of water from a well. Worden was known as “Clermont” before the name change. The Hazen Military trail passed through this area. This trail should be protected and made available to all. It was a horse and pack train trek. Details available. 

Yegen - Train Station on the NPR seven miles southwest of Billings. William Porter had a General Store located there.

Yellowstone City – Small town on north side of Yellowstone River midway between Bull Mountain and Conway. Strange at it may seem, there was another one, not too far from Bozeman.

Young’s Point - Stage Station & post office twenty-seven miles southwest of Billings until August 1882, operated by Alonzo Young. See Park City.


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[1] Identified in Gazette article about Frank Mann, Sunday, January 3, 1937. “Free Beer”

[2] ID O’Donnell, 1929 Biographies (George Danford)

[3] Details about the forts in Montana can be found in: “Military & Trading Posts of Montana,” By Don Miller and Stan Cohen, 1978

[4] Map is simply called Big Horn River, and part of the Montana Collection. Filed under George Drewyer, as map creator, with actual name spelling “Bighorn River.”.

[5] According to Lt James Bradley’s Journal, 1896. he states the fort was built in 1839; Larpenteur states 1835.

[6] Refer to “Sod ‘N Seed ‘N Tumbleweed” by the Huntley Project History Committee, 1977.