Filed Under Billings

Yellowstone Kelly’s Grave Site

Black Otter Trail Historic District

To the monotonous beat of muffled drums, Luther Sage “Yellowstone” Kelly’s funeral cortege wound its way through downtown Billings on June 26, 1929. A second procession along the rimrocks to the grave site followed strict military protocol. Veterans of earlier wars, state officials, a firing squad, and a horse with reverse boots led the way. A horse-drawn wagon carried the flag-draped casket of the man who symbolized to many the ideal frontiersman. Born in Geneva, New York on July 27, 1849, Kelly spent his earliest career in Montana, where he proved himself as a hunter, trapper, and explorer. Admired as literate, courteous, and of fine character, he was also a distinguished veteran of both the Civil War and the Philippine-American War. Kelly could have been buried at Arlington National Cemetery. However, as the end drew near, he wrote, “My body will rest better in Montana.” After his death in California on December 17, 1928, at age 79, his remains were sent to Montana where the Billings Commercial Club built a fitting memorial. This monument overlooking the Yellowstone Valley marks Kelly’s grave.


Chief Black Otter Trail, Billings, Montana | Public


The Montana National Register Sign Program, “Yellowstone Kelly’s Grave Site,” Historic Montana, accessed July 13, 2024,