Welcome to the Yellowstone Historical Society. Celebrate the history of our community with us. You can participate in preserving the storied past of Billings and Yellowstone County. Enjoy, Engage, and Explore our history.

Mission Statement

Was Organized in 1948 to share the history of Yellowstone County and surrounding area through programs and tours, and to locate, mark and preserve historical sites. The functions of the Yellowstone Historical Society are exclusively charitable and educational.

The functions of the Yellowstone Historical Society are exclusively charitable and educational.


Please note that the Yellowstone Historical Society is not connected with Yellowstone National Park. YHS does not maintain or install any markers related to Yellowstone National Park. In the past people have sent us items they wish to donate or contribute to the preservation of Yellowstone National Park’s history; YHS is not the organization to send that to. We suggest contacting the National Park Service and ask them where the best place is to send it.

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National Park Service

  1. Todd Johnson, a Park Ranger at Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area Yellowtail Dam, spoke on the construction of the Bighorn Canyon region before, during, and after the dam was built. He is seeking people to share their stories of working or living near the Yellowtail Dam project.
  2. Charlie Yegen discussed his family’s motivation to leave their homeland, Switzerland, and immigrate to the Yellowstone Valley.
  3. Bill Dutcher, the General Manager of Metra Park, presented information on the history of the Midland Empire Fair now known as the Montana Fair and Metra Park .
  4. Lt. Col. Ed Saunders, U.S. Army (retired), told the story of Montana’s Women Veterans of WWI who went into harm’s way before they could even vote in federal elections or receive equal pay, rank, and status as the men in the military.
  5. Billings Cemetery and Mountview Cemetery Presentation on the oldest cemeteries in the region dating back to the early 1880’s.
  6. The Heart Mountain Interpretive Center Program was presented.
  7. A presentation on the history and preservation of “The Adams Hotel” in Lavina.
  8. Melody Dobson and Jody Lamp presented a program about the American Doorstop Projects, Montana History Agriculture Project and the Yellowstone County/Valley area.
  9. Bill Kennedy spoke about the events and changes in Billings during the last 25 years.
  10. Elizabeth DeGrenier shared information about Billings’ earliest neighborhoods.
  11. Dr. See discussed the Lewis and Clark era and showed some of the instruments and techniques that Lewis and Clark used to keep their party healthy.
  12. Jon Axline spoke of his work as the historian at the Montana Department of Transportation.
  13. Dorwin Schreuder presented an account of his mid-20th century unregulated childhood that led to 30 years of service as a Special Agent with the FBI. 2016 Field trip report by YHS member, Carol Bernhardt.
  14. Field Trip to Oscar’s Park.
  15. John LeVar spoke about Pompey’s life after the Lewis and Clark expedition.
  16. Joyce Jenson presented information on the First Nation wild horse range established in 1968 in the Pryor Mountains.
  17. Doc Don Woerner, of the DMV is responsible for a new museum in Billings, Museum of the American Bison, opening spring or early summer of 2016. Don presented stories related to this animal including Native American relationships, commercial bison production, wild bison issues, the loss of bison and the return and restoration of the animal.
  18. Mike Bergstrom and Halcyon La Point Bergstrom shared a brief history of ice patchwork in the greater Yellowstone Eco-system.
  19. Mike Tuss, CTA’s Principal-in-charge, and Lesley Gilmore, Director of Historic Preservation, discussed the renovations work and history of Broadwater and McKinley Elementary Schools.
  20. “Yellowstone Kelly” – who was he and the plans for his gravesite at Sword’s Park.
  21. Ralph Saunders presented a program on “Clark’s Crossing”.
  22. Jim Vaughn and associates from the Northern Rockies Civil War Association gave a presentation on “Solder and Civilian life during the Civil War”.
  23. Verdine and Rick White, owners of the Bible Story in Joliet, MT, shared the stories of Adolph Land’s creation of one of Montana’s oldest roadside tourist stops, “Pathway Thru the Bible”.
  24. Toured Billings Senior High School’s wall murals created by students since the 1950’s.
  25. Lonnie Bell, DJ and entertainer, spoke about the history of radio in Billings and some of the “Who’s Who” that came out of the industry. 
  26. Curator Neil Gunnel, Huntley Project Museum of Irrigated Agriculture spoke of homesteaders who transformed the valley from prairie to farmland. Under the Reclamation Act of 1904, the Huntley Irrigation Project was one of the earliest and most successful projects. Neil also outlined the results of a 2012 grant on the interpretation and preservation of the history of the area.
  27. Emelie Eaton, founder and chair of the Laurel Historic Preservation Society, gave a presentation entitled “History of History in Laurel”, a first-hand account of the efforts being made to preserve the history of Laurel and a review of areas in and around Laurel that have need of historical research and professional restoration.
  28. Don and Dianne Cooper shared their family history and told about Don’s Great Grandmother, Elizabeth, who started the first school in Billings and was the wife of O.N. Newman.
  29. Renee Christiansen entertained the YHS members with stories of shootings, robberies, hangings and other events in the old days in Billings.
  30. Presentation by the Yellowstone County Museum on the History of the Midland Empire Fair. 
  31. Karen Stevens shared a pre1entation on ghost stories of Montana.
  32. Ralph Saunders shared his research on Fort Manuel Lisa and the signatures on the rock.
  33. Presentation by Vince Long, radio historian, on the birth and maturity of radio.
  34. Ralph Lee shared his expertise and knowledge about collecting Native American and other historical artifacts.
  35. Crow dancer Josiah Hugs demonstrated dancing and related the history and meaning of the songs.
  36. Jeffrey Kitchens, manager of Pompey’s Pillar National Monument, spoke about Pompey’s Pillar.
  37. Rickard Ross spoke on his great grandfather’s part in Montana’s history. Mr. Ross spent nearly forty years “researching the life of his ancestor, Frederick E. Server, who is a part of Montana history and the history of American Indian tribes in Montana.” Rickard is the author of the book, First to Arrive on Custer’s Battlefield with the Montana Column.
  38. John Pulasky is a radio weather forecaster on the Northern Ag Network, Central Montana Weather, and Ag News. His presentation focused on a “Montanan’s Thoughts on Climate Change.”
  39. Tom Rust, an Associate Professor of History at MSU-B, spoke about Wm. Clark’s Canoe Camp on the Yellowstone. Professor Rust has been conducting archaeological investigations since 2010. His findings include charcoal that has been carbon dated to the era of the expedition and the remains of mercury that are consistent with samples tested at Travelers Rest. The capability of his sophisticated equipment combined with his extensive knowledge has provided greater insight as to the exact location of Canoe Camp.
  40. The Yellowstone Trail Project by Marlene Saunders and Renee Christensen.
  41. Bruce Whittenburg, Director of the Montana Historical Society, shared information on the Montana Historical Society Museum in Helena.
  42. Noreen Linderman, better known as Noreen the Outlaw Queen, has been part of the Billings music scene since 1948. Noreen shared stories of performing in the 17 Club and others as she strummed her guitar and entertained us with cowboy classics.
  43. Randy Hafer, owner of High Plains Architects, presented “Discover Downtown Billings – Before and After”. Randy’s love of historic architecture has led to the preservation of many cultural landmarks saving them from demolition.
  44. Monica Weldon gave hints for preserving family and community history. Monica was a member of a committee that produced the book Tales and Trails South of the Yellowstone: An Unrecorded History of the Area South of Billings and the Yellowstone River-extending to the Western Portions of the Crow Reservation and Pryor Mountains.
  45. Sue Hart related stories of the development of Hoofprints, the magazine printed by the Corral of the Westerners and discussed the people involved in its publication.
  46. Steve Aaberg of Aaberg Cultural Resources Consulting Service presented a program on the Absaroka Agency, also known as the Second Crow Agency. He shared pictures and new information about a site near Absarokee where he has led excavations to locate foundations of buildings and artifacts.
  47. Ed Kemmick shared stories about Montana as contained in his book The Big Sky, By and By .
  48. Rider of the Yellowstone Near the Billings airport stands a stature of two famous movie stars, Bill Hart and Fritz. The statue, known as the range Rider of the Yellowstone, was the focus of a movie and presentation by Joyce Jensen during the May 2011 program.
  49. Not in our Town! During Hanukkah in 1993, public outrage sparked when rocks were thrown at menorahs seen shining in the windows of homes of Jewish Families in the Billings community. In protest of the violence, paper menorahs began showing up in windows all over the area, and the rallying cry “Not in our Town!” was born. The public response spread the cry worldwide.
  50. Eran Thompson, Chair of “Not-in-our-Town Billings” presented a deeper insight into the history of the “Not in our Town” movement during our February 2011 meeting.
  51. The History of Billings and the Influence of the Billings Gazette Kevin Kooistra-Manning, community historian at the Western Heritage Center, presented a program of headlines, historic photographs, and quotes from the Billings Gazette. He spoke about the early development of Billings and how editors and publishers of the newspaper business influenced the sharing of community information.
  52. Airborne Medical Rescue Program T.C. Coble, the HELP Flight Operations Manager at St. Vincent’s Hospital, presented a wonderful overview of the history of the medical helicopters that serve Billings and the surrounding area.
  53. David Grubbs, Gazette photographer, shared photographs documenting important events in Yellowstone County.
  54. When: April 20, 2018. Crystal Alegria and Carl Bakker will tell us about the Montana Site Stewardship Program and its work to document and preserve pre-contact and historic era archaeological sites for the purposes of conservation, scientific study and future visitation.
  55. May 18, 2018: Jeff Ballard, 1 of 4 baseball players from Billings to have played baseball in the major leagues, will discuss the all American sport and how Billings responded with clubs, fields and professional players.
  56. When: Sept. 21, 2018: Short presentations by YHS members giving you a sneak peak of what each speaker will present at the Montana History Conference in Billings, Sept. 27-29.  Ralph Saunders: “Fred Inabnit, Mountaineer.”   Inabnit was an early mountaineering pioneer best known for a namesake mountain in the Beartooth Range and the extraordinary topographic relief map he constructed. Joyce Jensen:  “We Weren’t Supposed to Feed Them But We Did.” Drawing on oral interviews, newspaper articles, and county extension agent reports, Jensen will tell the story of German & Italian soldiers used to work the beet fields in the Billings area during World War II.  Marlene Saunders and Renee Christiansen: “Yellowstone Trail — One Good Long Road.”  A significant route between the east and the west coasts started in 1911, it came through Billings. Official Yellowstone Trail signs have been installed to mark the route through Billings. Prudence Ladd:  “Histories Mysteries of Billings Rimrocks.”   From historic travel routes to an angel like figure that has watched over the Magic City for the past sixty- one years, Ladd will unveil five of these secrets from the past.
  57. When: Oct. 19, 2018: KGHL Radio is Billings first and oldest radio station. Taylor and Shannon Brown owners of KGHL and the Northern Ag Network will share the history of KGHL and anecdotes of 90 years of broadcasting that began June 8, 1928. Four businesses & advertisers that welcomed KGHL in 1928 remain in Billings today. Those include the Northern Hotel, Western Sugar Cooperative (formerly known as Great Western Sugar Company), Billings Linen (formerly known as Billings Laundry Service) and North Star Body and Trailer Repair (formerly known as North Star Auto Body Works).is Billings first and oldest radio station. Taylor and Shannon Brown owners of KGHL and the Northern Ag Network will share the history of KGHL and anecdotes of 90 years of broadcasting that began June 8, 1928. Four businesses & advertisers that welcomed KGHL in 1928 remain in Billings today. Those include the Northern Hotel, Western Sugar Cooperative (formerly known as Great Western Sugar Company), Billings Linen (formerly known as Billings Laundry Service) and North Star Body and Trailer Repair (formerly known as North Star Auto Body Works).
  58. When: Oct 20, 2018: Histoires Mysteries Even. Join us Oct 20th to uncover true mysteries while discovering a historic homestead, an old town site, the location where Clark crossed the Yellowstone and much more! We will have historians on location from 10am to 2pm. Travel at your own pace – with your friends and family in your own car or the sites are close enough together you can ride your bike! Check web site for details. There is opportunity for walking at all locations.
  59. When: Nov. 16, 2018: Huntley Water Irrigation Project: Funded by a grant from the Montana History Foundation, Trudie Porter Biggers completed an oral history project that produced voice recordings of original homesteaders. She also curated, digitized and restored 200 historic photographs of the construction of the Huntley Irrigation Project and the towns, schools and churches that grew up with the influx of homestead families. These photographs are over110 years-old and had never been seen by the public until March 2018.She will speak about her work using a slide show including many of the pictures she helped preserve. She will also have copies of the book she produced available for sale.
  60. When: Jan. 18, 2019: Almeda Bradshaw Singer/Songwriter is one of Montana’s talented Western singer songwriters. Her love and appreciation for the western way of life is expressed in heartfelt songs that give voice to the westerner: cowboys, cowgirls, ranchers, farmers and more. A lifetime of writing and playing stringed instruments places her work above the ordinary.
  61. When: February 15, 2019: Pepsi Bottling Company, The Dimich Family has been involved with Pepsi-Cola bottling of Red Lodge and Billings since 1937. Second generation Willie Dimich is our presenter. Celebrating 90 years of business, the Pepsi-Cola company and Dimich Pepsi story is told in a book titled “ Coal Miner to Pepsi Bottler the story of Pepsi-Cola Bottling Billings Mt. “ All members will receive a book at the January meeting. The books will be part of the presentation so please review and bring them to the February meeting.
  62. When: March 15, 2019 Jessica Goosmann and Terri Walters will present a history of the Lake Elmo State Park. They will share how this reservoir not only supports agriculture in Yellowstone County, but how it also meets recreational needs of the community. Lake Elmo became an irrigation reservoir in 1904, it now serves over 130,000 visitors per year. Jessica and Terri will share interesting facts about this highly visited Montana State Park.
  63. When: April 12, 2019 (note meeting this month is on the 2nd Friday due to Good Friday) Rocky, as we know it, is definitely a college for students to explore their passions and to enjoy Montana. John Pulasky’s earlier career was teaching the Aviation/ Airway Management and Operations course at RMC. He will share the challenges and the successes of careers the program has impacted. You may know John better as a local “weatherman” or one of the faces of “ Our Montana”.
  64. When: May 17, 2019 You’re probably aware of many Indian U.S. Calvary battles in Montana, and even int he greater Billings area, but do you know the story of a skirmish between a group of Cheyenne & Sioux warriors and a cavalry detachment protecting a group of Northern Pacific Railroad surveyors near present day Billings in 1872? Come learn about this lesser known battle.
  65. Battle of the Yellowstone. When: Spring Outing August 17, 2019 (The May trip was rescheduled) Guided Tour by Historian/Author/Educator Dave Eckroth. He will take us to the Site of Major Baker’s Battle on the Yellowstone. Walk the battle site as Dave shares his enthusiasm and expert knowledge about a confrontation involving Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, Warriors and Cavalry. 
  66. Yellowstone Buses. November 15: Yellowstone Park Buses.  John Mueller of North Star Auto Body will talk about the restoration of some of the old White Motor Company buses used to ferry passengers in and around Yellowstone Park from the 1930’s into the 1960’s.  The story of refurbishing the busses begins with Bus No. 437.  In the mid-1960’s the roof on a West Yellowstone shed where Bus No. 437 was stored collapsed under a heavy snow.  The falling roof crushed the top of the bus and dug into the dash.  The drive train & undercarriage of the bus were spared, but the family that owned it let it sit unrepaired.  In the early 2000’s Bruce Austin bought the bus and began working with North Star to have it refurbished. With parts no longer available many had to be made from scratch or refurbished. Since then, North Star has worked to restore even more of the old busses.
  67. Into the Tall and Uncut. October 11:  Into the Tall and the Uncut. Learn some contemporary history of outfitting in the West from John Billings.  John was an outfitter & guide in the Thorofare Country of northwest Wyoming near Yellowstone Park for over 25 years.  He will share some general history of outfitting in the Rocky Mountain West as well as some of his more memorable experiences as an outfitter.  He will have copies of his book Into the Tall and the Uncut  available for sale.
  68. McCormick Cabin. September 27:  MCCormick Cabin. Come learn about the McCormick cabin at the Yellowstone County Museum, 1950 Airport Terminal Circle.  Christian Coppedge ,Terry Steiner and Zach Garhart will talk about the cabin and the museum.  The YCM houses over 23,000 artifacts in 5,000 square feet of space. Hear about the museums entrance, a historic cabin built in 1891 by Paul McCormick, and the array of exhibits. Displays discussed include the Western Room, Montana Prehistory, the Ghost Dance 1890, and more! 
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