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Red Lodge City

Carbon County, Montana

Red Lodge City Hall is located at 1 South Platt, Red Lodge, MT 59068.
Phone: 406-446-1606.

Calvary Episcopal Church

Photo: Calvary Episcopal Church, circa 1890-1900, located at 9 North Villard Avenue, Red Lodge. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. Photographed by User: Chris06 (own work), 2013, [public domain], via Wikimedia Commons, accessed October, 2022.

Red Lodge, Montana [1] is a small city located in the western portion of Carbon County, approximately fifty-six miles southwest of Billings, Montana. The city is located on the west bank of the Rocky Fork Creek, in a valley bounded on the east and west by bluffs or benches; these 200-300' benches contained the coal deposits responsible for the development of the city.

Red Lodge was founded in 1884., incorporated in 1892, and prospered throughout the time the mines were in operation. Most of the structures in the city were built between 1896 and 1915. A depressed economy in the years following the closure of the mines in 1924 and 1932 has both ensured the preservation of most of the pre-World War I buildings in the city and limited new construction.


At an elevation of 5,557 feet above sea level, Red Lodge [2] is located in a long, narrow north- south drainage through the broad foot hills of the Beartooth Mountains in southeastern Montana. Red Lodge grew up between the coal mines located on the mountainside to the east and the west of town. Although initially settled in the early 1880s, the present townsite of Red Lodge was not platted until 1889. The commercial center of Red Lodge was relocated in 1896 from what has come to be known as "Old Town" on West 16th Street to the present commercial corridor of Billings Avenue (Broadway). Because the town had been settled in a rather haphazard fashion, the town Council decided in 1895 that owners of dwellings and businesses would need to relocate their buildings upon the newly platted lots. Although a few.of the original log structures were moved to the new commercial lots along Broadway, the majority of the business owners were soon to be constructing new, one and two story, frame, stone, or brick structures as the commercial district of Red Lodge prospered.

One and two story masonry buildings line the main street of Red Lodge, Montana. The three facing blocks included in this nomination form a coherent grouping of significant western vernacular, commercial architecture, constructed primarily between 1893 and 1915, and reflect the relatively high degree of prosperity achieved in this coal mining community during this period.

The first coal mines in Red Lodge opened in the late 1880s. By 1889, the Northern Pacific Railroad had completed its branch line and was servicing this rapidly growing new town. European immigrants came to work in the mines in large numbers. By 1910, half of the residents of Red Lodge were of foreign birth, one fourth being from Finland. The balance of the immigrants came from Austria, England, Italy* Norway, Sweden, Russia, Scotland, Hungary, Ireland, Croatia, Serbia, and Montenegro. Each group tended to retain close ethnic ties, forming social and fraternal organizations, cooperative mercantile shops, opera and entertainment clubs, and special neighborhood service industries. Many of the structures located within the downtown commercial district are associated with these early ethnic organization.

  1. Betsy Bradley> Survey Coordinator, Carbon County Historic Preservation Office, Hi Bug Historic District, nomination documnent, 1985, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
  2. David L. Leavengood, architect edited by: Patricia Bick, architectural historian, Kommers, McLaughlin&Leavengood, Red Lodge Commercial Historic District, nomination document, 1981, National Register of Historic Places, Washington. D.C.