The Pollard is the oldest Hotel in town with the phone number 446-0001 because the original owner was a friend with the phone man and received the first phone in town.
The scenery in general
We moved here from AZ and I was fascinated that they would wash the streets!
The old town is down in a ditch, which leaves us with the East Bench and the West Bench.
More of the colorful downtown, which has been restored to its old splendor.
They put those high fronts on the houses to distinguish between the business buildings and the residences.
This is our Carnegie library and it is out of Brick. All commercial buildings have to be built out of non-flammable material, which in the old days were rocks and bricks. The old wooden downtown just had burnt down too many times.
The yellow brick road snaking its way to Red Lodge
Another typical picture from around here.
This might be the red lodge (tepee) the Indians referred to and after which Red Lodge received its name.
One of the Victorians in Hi-Bug, the English district of town. There is a book with stories about the historic homes.
Red Lodge's population ups and downs
|1910 || 4,860
|1930 || 3,026
|1980 || 1,896
|1990 || 1,958
|2000 || 2,177
Source: Census and Economic Information Center, Montana Commerce Department.
Reinventing Red Lodge
Adapted from an article written by MARY PICKETT of the Gazette Staff
Founded as a coal-mining town, Red Lodge early on rejected traces of its Wild West past, including Indians, cowboys and ranchers.
But, when the mines closed and the town started a rodeo to draw tourists, cowboys and Indians became important.
Promoters would have little luck in enticing Native Americans to Red Lodge. Native Americans from the area already were booked to appear at rodeos in Livingston and Cody, Wyo., which apparently paid higher fees.
As Bonnie Christensen reveals in her book published last year, "Red Lodge and the Mythic West: Coal Miners to Cowboys", the real West is more intricate - and often more interesting - than the mythic version that towns like Red Lodge presented to the public.
The book looks at Red Lodge as an example of how small Western communities have remade themselves to survive.
That the town eventually would embrace the very things that its founders rejected is one of the many complexities about which Christensen writes.
Red Lodge, which began as a coal-mining town, remade its image several times during its 11year history, sometimes in contradictory fashion.
Like many other towns in the West, Red Lodge was a creation of corporate interests.
In Red Lodge's case, they were Frederick Billings, former Northern Pacific Railroad president; Sam Hauser, Montana governor and owner of the state's largest bank; and Henry Villard, NPRR president. (Streets in Red Lodge were named after the last two).
The three set their sights on coal deposits at the foot of the Beartooth Mountains because, as part of the Crow Reservation, they hadn't been claimed yet by speculators and could more cheaply be developed.
The well-connected men convinced the federal government to redraw reservation boundaries to allow them to claim the coal.
From the time it was incorporated in 1892 until the mines closed in 1924 and 1932, Red Lodge was a coal town interested in promoting itself as a modern, industrialized community.
To do so, boosters wanted to distance the town from not only Native Americans but also from cowboys, who drank and gambled to excess and shot up the town, and ranchers, who might lock up large areas of land, preventing farmers from putting it to more profitable use.
"The Wild West within Red Lodge died a quick death, stifled by an entrepreneurial class determined to create a respectable, safe and profitable community," Christensen wrote.
If Red Lodge boosters were afraid of cowboys and Indians, they at first were terrified of immigrant coal miners, even though it was those miners who brought - at a risk to their lives - the wealth residents enjoyed.
Eventually, businessmen and politicians saw immigrants as a group to cultivate as customers and voters.
By the early 20th century, Red Lodge also had become a strong union town.
Red Lodge embraced unions more successfully that some other towns in the West, where violence broke out when miners had little outlet for concerns about safety and working conditions.
Around World War I, Red Lodge did experience some of the xenophobia that surfaced in other parts of the West.
As most other Montana communities did, Red Lodge formed a Liberty Committee to rout out subversives.
The Red Lodge committee began to focus on Finnish immigrants, who as a group did not overtly support the United States' entrance into World War I. Much of that antiwar sentiment originated in the fact that Finland was occupied by Russia, an ally of the United States against Germany.
Finns also fell under suspicion because they predominated in the small International Workers of the World organization in town. The IWW, or Wobblies as members were called, was a radical amalgam of left-leaning anti-capitalists.
Committee members began to verbally and physically threaten Finns, nearly lynching one man. One case of harassment ended with the accidental shooting death of an innocent bystander.
Mining disappeared from Red Lodge in the 1920s and 1930s when mechanized strip mining started at Colstrip and electrical and diesel power replaced coal.
Mining would continue in nearby Bearcreek and Washoe into the 1950s.
To survive, Red Lodge decided to lure tourists by reinventing its image with dude ranches, a rodeo starting in 1930 and covering modern brick buildings downtown with Western-looking facades.
Increasingly, the "authentic" Western events weren't shaped by the town's real history or how the town actually was in the 1930s, but more by the West created by pulp novels and movies.
The drive to attract tourists became so important that the town went to great lengths to please them, including trying to get the whole town to dress "Western."
"So in the 1930s, Red Lodge civic leaders initiated a strident, persistent campaign to cajole, browbeat, and shame residents into looking like cowboys," Christensen wrote.
"Westerners, however did not eagerly adopt this 'western' look for themselves. Modern lifestyles, poverty or sheer reluctance to dress up for boosters led many residents to resist the call to cowboy clothing."
If towns like Red Lodge began to remake themselves in the image of the silver screen, local rodeo legends, in turn, played a role in creating some of those stars.
When Red Lodge rodeo cowgirl Alice Greenough went to Hollywood in search of a movie career, one of her jobs was teaching Dale "Queen of the West " Evans how to ride a horse.
As hokey as some of the efforts to Westernize the West were, they began to work.
By 1931, 7,000 people were coming to the three-day rodeo at a time when Red Lodge had about 3,000 people.
Red Lodge, which hit a high of nearly 5,000 people in 1910, lost one-third of its population between 1920 and 1930. The next decade, during which the rodeo started, the population dropped by fewer than 100 people.
Still, becoming more Western couldn't totally solve Red Lodge's problems.
Economically, things worsened by the end of World War II as mining in the area further decreased and young people fled to larger towns.
Again local residents went to work.
"Red Lodge survived the 1940s and 1950s through luck, location and the grit of local people determined to keep the town alive," Christensen wrote.
Residents this time turned to its ethnic past for help, starting the Festival of Nations in 1951.
Red Lodge wasn't the only town in Montana with a diverse ethnic past. But it was the only one celebrating it publicly.
Although grounded in real history and real people, the festival was cleansed of facts that had produced tensions earlier, such as Finns' link to socialism.
Another shot in the arm was the completion of the $2.5-million Beartooth Highway in 1936. The highway became the town's greatest tourist attraction and fueled the need for businesses to cater to visitors going over the pass.
The creation of the Absaroke-Beartooth Wilderness also enhanced Red Lodge's image as a place to come to experience nature.
During the 1970s, the town's long decline in population stopped, and the number of residents began to grow.
Many of the new residents came because they wanted to live in a small community or near the mountains.
Recently, Red Lodge residents have rediscovered its coal-mining past and worked to preserve its small town qualities.
In mid-1994, residents claimed victory on the latter front by preventing the U.S. Postal Service from moving the downtown post office, which was a community meeting place, to a new facility at the outskirts of town.
By reinventing itself over and over again, Red Lodge hasn't been exactly making up the past.
"Residents did not fabricate the town's histories; instead, like all other human beings, they took what they needed from the past to survive the present," Christensen wrote.
"And Red Lodge, with all its personalities and varied heritages, did survive."
Mary Pickett may be reached at 406/657-1262
or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On the same note I would like to add, that private enterprise created our skiing area and the golf course along with fine restaurants, live entertainment, a movie theater, shops, a wildlife refuge for animals that cannot be released in the wild after an injury and of course the fly fishing in this area is a lot of fun.
Click on any photo to see it full size
The green open space is the city park. There is also a gazebo and we have outdoor concerts there, craft fairs and such.
There are over 1,000 lakes up in the Beartooth Mountain Range, 485 are stocked with fish.
This photo is typical for our area. Meadows with deciduous trees in the Coulees and the Beartooth Mountains in the Background.
The mountains here are 10,000 to 13,000 ft. high and are the highest in Montana, with 13 peaks higher than 12,000ft.
More of Red Lodge. This town is always bustling with activity.
A B&B in town
Wonderful Courthouse, our city hall on the other hand is an embarrassment, so no photos of it!
Our airport is on the West Bench with a 4,000ft runway
In winter this is a ski slope for the brave.
There it is again.
The rugged Beartooth and its many lakes as seen from a small plane.
Makes you want to take flying lessons, doesn't it?
The old town of Red Lodge between the West and the East Bench. The new homes, golf course and airport are on the West Bench.
A new development up on Remington Ranch