History Buffs

For the history devotees, unique western history and adventure await across Billings’ state parks and national monuments. Take the roads less traveled as you follow the footsteps of Lewis and Clark along the Yellowstone River, chase General Custer through the rolling plains and join great Native American Indian Chiefs in their plight along the Bighorn River. Enriching experiences are boundless and sure to be one for the history books.

PIONEER SPIRITS

Yellowstone Kelly

Luther Sage “Yellowstone” Kelly was one of the most notable American veterans, frontiersmen and warriors of his time. In his twilight years, he requested to have his body buried in the land where his restless spirit had experienced its greatest adventures, stating “I feel my body will rest better in Montana.” Kelly was laid to rest in June of 1929 overlooking the Yellowstone Valley. The Chamber of Commerce made a promise to build a monument worthy of his service to his country and to preserve the community’s heritage. Today, that promise has been fulfilled with the Yellowstone Kelly Interpretive Site.
 

Lewis & Clark

Perhaps the most famous of all Western explorers and settlers is the story of Lewis and Clark. Captain William Clark spent three years with Meriwether Lewis exploring the region. He focused his attention on drawing maps, maintaining supplies and leading the hunts. Clark and his men passed through Billings in July 1806 on their way to Pompeys Pillar, where Clark’s signature remains carved into the pillar to this day.
 

Preston Boyd Moss

Arriving in town in 1892, Preston Boyd Moss, known as P.B., was a prominent figure in Billings’ business development. He was a well-known banker and entrepreneur, starting the forerunner to the Billings Gazette and the Billings Utility Company—along with many others. His legacy and impact on Billings’ early years is undeniable.

Calamity Jane

Known for chewing tobacco, drinking heavily and acting out, Martha Canary, better known as Calamity Jane, spent a lot of time in Billings at a log cabin on Canyon Creek from 1893 to 1902. A woman of extremes, she was often found in a drunken rage and arrested. It’s been said that she was locked in the cell housed today within the Yellowstone Art Museum.

 

Frederick Billings

Frederick Billings made a name for himself during the gold rush, eventually becoming California’s first Attorney General. Billings purchased one of the original twelfth interests in the Northern Pacific Railway and served as its president. As the railway expanded, his legacy left a lasting impression. So much so, Billings, Montana was named after him.
 

HISTORIC SITES

Explore historic sites and experiences in and around Billings.

Western Heritage Center

Housed in one of our city’s oldest buildings and an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, this museum has the interactive history of Billings and the region.

Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument

Take in history on the grounds where it took place; where the Sioux and Cheyenne battled Custer and the U.S. Army’s 7th Cavalry in one of the last efforts to preserve the native way of life.

Chief Plenty Coups State Park

Discover the history of the Apsáalooke people's last traditional tribal chief with an informative visitor's center and visit Chief Plenty Coups' home to learn about native culture, history and legacy.

Pictograph Cave State Park

Evidence of habitation dating back 4,500 years! Three caves and a fantastic interpretive center open year-round.

Moss Mansion

The story of one of Billings' oldest families and how Billings was built.

Yellowstone County Museum

Organized in 1953 and sits atop the rims overlooking the city of Billings and the scenic Yellowstone River Valley. It is truly a treasure chest of Montana's past.