Filed Under Helena

Helena Railroad Depot Historic District

The town went wild as the first long-awaited locomotive steamed into Helena on June 13, 1883. The momentous arrival of the Northern Pacific linked Montana to national markets and assured Helena a permanency not previously realized. The Sixth Ward grew almost overnight around the extensive rail yards. Hotels, saloons, and businesses—some in tents—served the first passengers, crews, and Sixth Ward residents, most of whom were railroad employees. Although the depot was a mile from downtown, horse-drawn cabs ferried visitors back and forth. By 1890, the district served four passenger trains daily. Today the small commercial district includes reminders of the territorial period and early twentieth century when the railroad ruled supreme. False-fronted frame buildings from the early 1880s still line Railroad Avenue. Louis Reeder, builder of Reeder’s Alley; businessman Alexander Beattie; and, later, the H. Walter Larson family, all invested heavily in buildings standing here. Charles A. Reed of the renowned firm of Reed and Stem designed the depot in 1903 and A. O. Von Herbulis, creator of the St. Helena Cathedral, drew the plans for St. Mary’s Church in 1910. Trolley tracks embedded in the brick pavement in 1915 and Beattie Park, financed by the Beattie family in 1930, document twentieth-century improvements. Earthquake damage, visible in the replacement brick on the depot’s west end, illustrates the ravages of the 1935 calamity. Eventually rail travel declined and passenger service discontinued, but the district remains a vivid testament to the Northern Pacific line and its enormous importance to the Queen City of the Rockies.

Images

Helena Railroad Depot Historic District
Helena Railroad Depot Historic District Helena Railroad Depot Historic District. Front/side view of the original Northern Pacific Railroad Depot on Railroad Avenue, facing north to northeast on Railroad Avenue. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office Creator: Photographer unidentified Date: Date unknown
Helena Railroad Depot Historic District
Helena Railroad Depot Historic District Helena Railroad Depot Historic District. Front/side view of the Northern Pacific Railroad Depot, facing north to northeast on Railroad Avenue near Beattie Park. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office Creator: Photographer unidentified Date: May 2003
Helena Railroad Depot Historic District
Helena Railroad Depot Historic District Helena Railroad Depot Historic District. Overview of the historic district showing the brick road known as Railroad Avenue, facing east on Railroad Avenue near the intersection of North Harris Street. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office Creator: Photographer unidentified Date: May 2003
Map of Helena, Lewis and Clarke Co., Montana, 1887
Map of Helena, Lewis and Clarke Co., Montana, 1887 Shows streets, blocks, railroads, roads, cemeteries, and some land ownership.; Relief indicated by hachures.; Includes index to churches, public buildings, schools, and railroads, and 3 vignettes. Source: Montana History Portal Creator: Cumming, Cannon and Steele.; H.M. Smyth Printing Company (Saint Paul, Minn.) Date: c1887
Helena Railroad Depot Historic District
Helena Railroad Depot Historic District Helena Railroad Depot Historic District. Front/side view of 1501 Railroad Avenue, facing south to southeast on the corner of North Sanders and Railroad Avenue. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office Creator: Photographer unidentified Date: May 2003
Helena Railroad Depot Historic District
Helena Railroad Depot Historic District Helena Railroad Depot Historic District. Front view of the building located at 1503 Railroad Avenue, facing south to southwest on Railroad Avenue. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office Creator: Photographer unidentified Date: May 2003
Helena Railroad Depot Historic District
Helena Railroad Depot Historic District Helena Railroad Depot Historic District. Front view of the building located at 1505 Railroad Avenue, facing south on Railroad Avenue from across the street in front of the Norther Pacific Railroad Depot (Union Depot). Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office Creator: Photographer unidentified Date: May 2003
Helena Railroad Depot Historic District
Helena Railroad Depot Historic District Helena Railroad Depot Historic District. Front view of the buildings located at 1507 and 1509 Railroad Avenue, facing south to southeast towards North Harris Street in front of the Northern Pacific Railroad Depot (Union Depot). Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office Creator: Photographer unidentified Date: May 2003
Helena Railroad Depot Historic District
Helena Railroad Depot Historic District Helena Railroad Depot Historic District. Front/side view of the building located at 1511 Railroad Avenue, facing south to southwest on Railroad Avenue near a residential structure. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office Creator: Photographer unidentified Date: May 2003
Helena Railroad Depot Historic District
Helena Railroad Depot Historic District Helena Railroad Depot Historic District. Front/side view of the house located at 1515 Railroad Avenue, facing south to southeast on Railroad Avenue near the commercial building at 1511 Railroad Avenue. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office Creator: Photographer unidentified Date: May 2003
Helena Railroad Depot Historic District
Helena Railroad Depot Historic District Helena Railroad Depot Historic District. Front/side view of the house located at 1516 Gallatin Avenue (street parallel to Railroad Avenue, to the south), facing north to northeast on Gallatin Avenue to the south of the Northern Pacific Railroad Depot and Railroad Avenue. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office Creator: Photographer unidentified Date: May 2003
Helena Railroad Depot Historic District
Helena Railroad Depot Historic District Helena Railroad Depot Historic District. Front view of the house located at 1529 Railroad Avenue, facing south on Railroad Avenue to the southeast of the Northern Pacific Railroad Depot. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office Creator: Photographer unidentified Date: May 2003
Helena Railroad Depot Historic District
Helena Railroad Depot Historic District Helena Railroad Depot Historic District. Front/side view of the Larson Block, facing southwest on the corner of Railroad Avenue and North Sanders Street near Beattie Park. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office Creator: Photographer unidentified Date: May 2003
Helena Railroad Depot Historic District
Helena Railroad Depot Historic District Helena Railroad Depot Historic District. Front side view of the Larson block, facing east to southeast near the intersection of Helena Avenue, North Roberts Street, and Gallatin Avenue. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office Creator: Photographer unidentified Date: May 2003
Helena Railroad Depot Historic District
Helena Railroad Depot Historic District Helena Railroad Depot Historic Depot. Front view of St. Mary's Church, facing east on North Roberts Street. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office Creator: Photographer unidentified Date: May 2003

Location

Roughly bounded by Railroad/Helena Avenues, Gallatin Street, North Sanders Street, and North Harris Street Helena, Montana | Private

Metadata

The Montana National Register Sign Program, “Helena Railroad Depot Historic District,” Historic Montana, accessed June 25, 2024, https://historicmt.org/items/show/69.