Filed Under Missoula

Northside Missoula Railroad Historic District

Generations of Northsiders have grown up in the shadow of the railyards since the Northern Pacific Railroad’s arrival in 1883 transformed Missoula into a modern city. Accepting land as an enticement from A. J. Urlin and other leading businessmen, the Northern Pacific located its depot above where the Orange Street Underpass is now. Two blocks to the north, the railroad built its employees’ Beneficial Hospital in 1884. A constellation of commercial enterprises, boarding houses, hotels, and private homes developed on both sides of the tracks around these original railroad properties. After the construction of the new passenger depot at the north end of Higgins in 1900, the area surrounding the intersection of Woody Street and the tracks became Missoula’s wholesale grocery district. The unity with downtown disappeared later with the closing of grade-level street crossings. In 1891, one of Missoula’s first public schools, the Northside School, was constructed at a location four blocks northwest of the original depot, and residential development soon surrounded it. The Northside became home to Germans, Irish, French, Chinese, African Americans and later, Greek, Italian, and Japanese immigrants employed by the railroad during its expansion between 1900 and 1916. Ethnic ties and common employment lent a cohesiveness to this neighborhood, which boasts some of Missoula’s oldest homes. Pyramid cottages and other simple vernacular style residences, built largely between 1883 and 1915, densely populate blocks that form the backbone of working-class Missoula neighborhoods.

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Northside Missoula Railroad Historic District Aerial view of the Missoula railroad yard and surrounding northside Missoula neighborhood. Source: Montana History Portal Creator: Rollin H. McKay Date: 1950
Northside Missoula Railroad Historic District Demolition of houses on Missoula's north side before Interstate-90, facing south towards the Bitterroot Valley. Source: Montana History Portal Creator: Stan Healy Date: Unknown
Northside Missoula Railroad Historic District Northern Pacific yard in operation, facing the west. Source: Montana History Portal Creator: Philip Cornwell Johnson Date: Feb. 1968


Roughly bounded by Worden Avenue, 6th Street, I-90, C Street and the Northern Pacific RR tracks, Missoula, Montana | Private


The Montana National Register Sign Program, “Northside Missoula Railroad Historic District,” Historic Montana, accessed December 2, 2023,