The Billings skyline, with the Beartooth Mountains in the background
Billings was founded in 1877 by agents of the Northern Pacific Railroad. When they incorporated the town in 1882, they named the settlement for Frederick H. Billings, then president of the Northern Pacific Railroad. Today, Billings is the largest city in Montana and one of the fastest growing cities in the United States. Billings was recently ranked by BestLife Magazine as the third best place in America to raise a family.
Some of the pictographs found 6 miles south of Billings at Pictograph Cave show that this area has been inhabited for more than 2,000 years. When the Lewis & Clark Expedition came through this area in 1806, the Crow Indians had frequented this countryside for more than 100 years. There is evidence the Cheyenne and Sioux were here even earlier than the Crows.
Anyway, Billings was founded several miles west of the already-existing town of Coulson. This was a good location beside the Yellowstone River for the freight business that was brought upstream by the paddle-wheel steamers. At this point, the freight left the ships and traveled by train to its destination(s).
Billings grew steadily in those early years but really began to boom after World War II when the city became the primary cultural, commercial, retail, financial and medical center in the northern Rocky Mountain region.
Billings, from the Four Dances Natural Area
|Fast Facts about Billings, Montana|
Billings, Yellowstone County, MT
Zip Codes: 59101-59108, 59111, 59112, 59114-59117
Resident Racial Breakdown:
White Non-Hispanic: 86.0%
Native American: 4.1%
Two or More Races: 2.0%
High School or Higher: 88.7%
Bachelor's Degree or Higher: 28.5%
Graduate or Professional Degree: 8.2%
Median Resident Age: 36.8 Years
Estimated Median Household Income: $45,900
Estimated Median Home Value: $172,600
Population Density: 3,140 People per Square Mile
2011 Cost of Living Index for Billings: 89.4
Lodging & Food Services, Educational Services, Construction, Health Care, Finance & Insurance Services, Professional Services, Government, Social Services, Automotive Services, Retail Services
Unemployed (March 2011): 5.6%
Ballantine - Broadview - Custer - Huntley - Laurel
Lockwood - Shepherd - Worden - Yellowstone County
Acton Recreation Area - BLM - Pompeys Pillar National Monument
Nez Perce National Historic Park: Canyon Creek Battlefield
Sundance Lodge - BLM - Four Dances Natural Area - BLM
Shepherd Ah Nei Recreation Area - BLM
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Photo of Billings from the Four Dances Natural Area courtesy of the Bureau of Land Management.
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