Geraldine Milwaukee Depot
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 between Lewistown and Great Falls, the brand-new town of Geraldine, named for the mother and daughter of Milwaukee Railroad financier William G. Rockefeller, anticipated a bright future. The Geraldine Review reported that Milwaukee officials planned to make the town “the show place of the new line.” Workers put the finishing touches on the only custom-built depot on the central branch and a gala New Year’s Eve dance ushering in 1914 christened the building. Its hardwood maple floors were pronounced “splendid.” The special design, described as “a rustic bungalow of the California pattern,” featured two waiting rooms, a ticket room, freight room with scales embedded in the floor, nickel-trimmed hot-blast stoves, and a ventilating system that changed the air every five minutes. Geraldine was a busy stopover serving two daily passenger trains and freight crews until passenger service ended in 1965. All the other depots were sold and, after the Milwaukee’s demise in 1980, salvage companies removed the rails from the Great Falls-Geraldine section. The nonprofit Geraldine Historical Committee acquired the depot from Central Montana Rail in 1995. A model of expert workmanship and quality materials with most original details intact, the depot is still Geraldine’s centerpiece and central to the town’s history.