Rapid growth of the young town of Red Lodge coincided with the arrival of the Northern Pacific Railroad’s branch line in 1889. The area became Montana’s leading coal mining region. Town lots were platted by the secretary of the Rocky Fork Town and Electric Company, a subsidiary of the mining company, in turn owned by the railroad. By the mid-1890s, businesses had moved from the old town site, and Red Lodge’s commercial center developed rapidly. Although half of Red Lodge’s population was foreign-born, buildings erected between 1895 and 1936 generally reflect American trends rather than traditions of the various ethnic groups. Fraternal organizations, doctors’ offices, ethnic clubs, bawdy houses, and hotels occupied the upper floors of downtown buildings. As miners poured into Red Lodge, some slept in shifts at the hotels until other housing became available. The town reeled from the closing of the last coal mine in 1932, but within four years the Beartooth Scenic Highway began to reveal Red Lodge to tourists, and a new era of development began.
Contributing properties not pictured--Frank Church Building