Cooke City General Store

As the mining town of Cooke City flourished into the 1880s, temporary structures gave way to more permanent establishments. In 1886, John A. Savage and partner John Elder opened a general mercantile, whose long history reflects both the lean and prosperous times of this remote community. In 1907, ambitious proprietor George Allison remodeled and enlarged the establishment, covering the original rough board siding with a lavish display of pressed metal. Financial difficulties forced a sheriff’s sale of his inventory in 1908, but not before Allison had removed some of the fixtures and furnishings to equip his new store across the street. Allison’s new mercantile went bankrupt in 1911, and Nels and Elizabeth Soderholm, owners of the Cooke City Store (as it was called by this time), bought back and reinstalled many of its original fixtures. When Yellowstone Park opened to auto travel in 1915, the Cooke City Store prospered as a major source of supplies to seasonal visitors. The store’s present appearance, with its decorative pressed metal, oak shelving, floor-to-ceiling rolling ladders, and other turn-of-the-twentieth-century merchandising equipment, reflects the 1907 renovation. While this wonderfully intact mercantile recalls the small town general store of yesteryear, it is also an enduring survivor of Cooke City’s early boom period.

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Main Street, Cooke City, Montana ~ Private