Livingston Montana History

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Livingston Montana History

From Plains Native Amricans, to explorers, to trappers, to gold miners, to soldiers and the railroad, Livingston Montana has retained its unique charm and welcoming attitude through out its history. Read More

  • Lewis and Clark were the first Euro-Americans in the area arriving in 1806.
  • Plains Native Americans, trappers, miners, soldiers and the railroad all played a part in the history of Livingston.
  • The formation of Yellowstone National Park was the primary factor in the settlement and stability of the area.

Prior to 1806
Long before south-central Montana was acquired in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, it was regarded as sacred, neutral territory by the native Bannock, Blackfoot, Crow, Flathead and Shoshone tribes. Called "The Valley of Flowers," it was their hunting ground.

Captain William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition camped on the city's present outskirts on the return trip east, following the descending Yellowstone River.

John Colter spends a winter in the Yellowstone Region.

In the four decades after Lewis and Clark, this area as well as much of the mountain west was actively trapped by hundreds of men, primarily for beaver.

Jim Bridger (the famous scout and mountain man) wintered with the Crow Indians near what is now Emigrant, MT.

The trapping activity largely ceased because of lack of beaver demand due to the changed styles and the country being trapped out.

Gold was discovered in Emigrant Gulch and by the fall of 1864, several hundred men were working claims there. When winter came, 75 log huts were built at the mouth of the gulch and the town named Yellowstone City.

John Bozeman opened up the new road bearing his name to shorten, by several hundred miles, the route between Fort Laramie and the gold localities of Western Montana.

Hunter’s Hot Springs was discovered by Dr. Hunter and his party, passing through. Dr. Hunter returned six years later, built a house and took residence, in spite of Indian dangers. The area was famous as a resort for many years.

The first sawmill in the area was established on Mill Creek.

600 Longhorn cattle that had made the “long drive” from Texas were trailed into the Shields Valley by Nelson Story for eventual sale to the miners further west.

John Bozeman was killed by Blackfeet Indians near Mission Creek. This incident, added to others, caused the then territorial governor to organize a militia to punish the Indians and protect the settlers. Six hundred men encamped at Fort Howie at the mouth of the Shields River.

In accordance with the Crow Treaty of that year, an Indian agency was established on the Crow reservation on Mission Creek. The requirements of the Fort for supplies caused a ferry to be set up across the Yellowstone River four miles east of the present site of Livingston. The area was then known as Benson’s Landing.

Exploration of the Yellowstone Park area began. The information supplied by the Hayden Party of 1871 leads to the establishment of Yellowstone National Park.

Yellowstone National Park becomes the country’s first national park.

The arrival of the Northern Pacific Railroad at Livingston opens up more of the country.

Park County, so named due to its proximity to Yellowstone National Park, was created by the territorial legislature February 23, 1887.

Park County’s population has grown to 7,000.

Livingston was the original entrance to Yellowstone National Park and today is the only road to the Park that remains open year-round.
The landscape around Livingston and Park County hasn’t changed much over the last 126 years, back when the land was only inhabited by Plains Indians, buffalo, grizzly bears, wolves and elk. The snow-capped mountains are still breathtaking, the historic buildings on Main Street still conjure up images of yesteryear, and Yellowstone National Park still draws millions of visitors annually.

Other Livingston Montana History Resources

Livingston Museums

Make sure to visit one of Livingston's museums.