Filed Under Deer Lodge

Deer Lodge Central Business Historic District

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, breweries, furniture and drug stores, a hospital, and even a bowling alley. An 1872 fire destroyed over twenty buildings in the commercial center. Today, only a few wooden false-front buildings, of the type that originally lined Main Street, still stand. Deer Lodge's economy received a boost with construction of the territorial prison in 1870, the opening of Montana's first college in 1878, and, particularly, the arrival of the Northern Pacific Railroad in 1883. The railroad made it easy to import large architectural elements, and soon flamboyant brick business blocks displaying pressed metal cornices, iron pilasters, decorative stone accents, and large plate glass windows lined Main Street. Deer Lodge boomed during the homesteading era, especially after 1908, when the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railway made Deer Lodge a division point on its transcontinental line. Population increased by a third between 1910 and 1920. The downtown grew in kind with such important buildings as the Hotel Deer Lodge and the Larabie Brothers Bank. Despite an agricultural depression, new landmarks joined the streetscape in the 1920s, including the Beaux Arts Rialto Theater. Today the business district's architectural mosaic testifies to a long line of foresighted developers, committed to making Deer Lodge the "the prettiest and most healthful little city in the West."

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How Deer Lodge Got It's Name Audio recording about the naming of the city of Deer Lodge. Prepared and recorded by Montana Historical Society staff member Ellen Baumler. Presented on the Soundcloud channel "Montana History on the Go" 2015. Source: Montana History on the Go Creator: Ellen Baumler Date: 2015


Deer Lodge, Montana
Deer Lodge, Montana Streetview Deer Lodge Catalog #946-715 Source: Montana Historical Society Research Center Photograph Archives, Helena, MT Creator: Unidentified photographer Date: [no date]
Deer Lodge Central Business Historic District
Deer Lodge Central Business Historic District Deer Lodge Central Business Historic District. View of Main Street looking north. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office Creator: Kristi Hager Date: 2007


Bounded Cottonwood Avenue to north, Montana Avenue to south, 2nd Street to west and 4th Street to east, Deer Lodge, Montana | Private | Public


The Montana National Register Sign Program, “Deer Lodge Central Business Historic District,” Historic Montana, accessed April 15, 2024,