Miles City Area
Back in the late 1800’s Miles City was little more than encampment near the confluence of the Tongue River and the Yellowstone River. The precursor to the town had a rough beginning fraught with drunkenness, battles with Native Americans, and an overall “wild west” lifestyle. But by the year 1877, Miles City was officially a town named after General Nelson Miles. From then on the history only gets richer and you can still feel the cowboy culture in the area today.
Miles City Beginnings
Like most small towns in Montana, Miles City was able to withstand the test of time due to the railroad. This important piece of American infrastructure helped to connect much of the west, including the nearby Billings, Montana, to the rest of the country. With the help of the railroad cattle could be shipped back east, and more importantly the area became a huge benefit to the country during World War I by supplying many of the horses needed for battle.
Since that time ranching has been a way of life for Miles City residents. With two major rivers flowing nearby, there is no shortage of water. The otherwise dusty and dry Montana prairies are teeming with vegetation and wildlife. And that history of cowboys, railroads, and ranching can still be felt no matter where you go in town.
To learn more about the history of the town, and how important ranching is to the area, one of your first stops in Miles City should be the Range Riders Museum. It shows how the town transformed from a military encampment, to a small town. It is largely considered one of the best “old west” museums around.
From there you can pick just about any major attraction in the area and learn more about how this town grew up. As you stroll down the historic streets, visit the quintessential city parks, or gaze upon the mighty Yellowstone River, imagine back 100 to 200 years. Imagine life where horses and cattle dominated the landscape. Where electricity was only a dream and one couldn’t even imagine landing an airplane at the nearby Frank Wiley Field.
Miles City Way of Life
Here in Miles City you won’t find bumping night clubs. You won’t find quaint wine bars where people dress in the latest French fashions (although you will find wine at nearly all of the great bars and restaurants in town). What you will find is a lot of hard working individuals. You will find entrepreneurs and businessmen; cattle ranchers and farmers. If you stop to talk to some of those who grew up in the area you will learn more in 15 minutes than you could anywhere else. And you will see why so many people who call Miles City home would never dream of calling anywhere else home.
After you fly into the Miles City Airport, you are only about a mile outside of town. A quick ride over the Yellowstone River will get you in close, and from there just start to explore. You never know what historical treasures you might find.