Billings’ first depot was built in 1883, a year after the arrival of the Northern Pacific. Because the first depot failed to meet railroad specifications, the nearby Headquarters Hotel served instead as the passenger station. The hotel burned a few…

From the 1880s to the 1950s, trains assured Butte’s survival by transporting everything from passengers and mail to ore. This marvelous depot, with its 95-foot clock tower, was constructed in 1916 to serve passenger trains of the Chicago, Milwaukee…

When the tracks of the Northern Pacific reached Missoula in 1883, it was possibly the most significant event in the town’s history. Reliable transportation transformed the minor trade and lumber center to a major economic and commercial distribution…

The tracks of the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railway were laid across Montana between 1907 and 1909. Completion of this final transcontinental line and the fierce competition it generated renewed interest in the railroads. Its…

The first of the Milwaukee Road’s steam locomotives rumbled through this valley in 1908, bringing sure stability to the young settlement of Alberton. The town noisily came to life as a division point along the route, where fresh crews waited and…

Whitefish served as a division point for the Great Northern Railway from its founding in 1904 until 1955. In 1925, one railroader called it “the most distinctively railroad town on the whole Great Northern system.” The second floor of this 1928…

Tired of exorbitant freight rates, copper king Marcus Daly decided to build his own railroad in 1892 to haul ore from the Butte mines to his Anaconda smelter. Daly envisioned the Butte, Anaconda and Pacific Railway extending to the Pacific Ocean.…

The Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway completed its line across Montana in 1909 as settlers began to populate rural areas under the Homestead Act. In 1913, a branch line stretching from Harlowton to Great Falls was nearly finished. Midway…

The Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railway was constructed between 1907 and 1909, the last transcontinental railroad to cross Montana. Its service to Great Falls during the homestead boom supported the city’s establishment as a major urban center…

Coal was discovered in the upper Rock Creek Valley in 1866. The Rocky Fork Development Company purchased the mines in 1887 and actively lobbied the Northern Pacific Railway for a branch line to carry the coal to markets throughout Montana. In 1889,…