Historical Livingston



Nestled on the banks of the Yellowstone River, Livingston is surrounded by three mountain ranges: the Crazy, Absaroka and Bridger mountains.

Livingston is located about 55 miles from the Roosevelt Arch and the North Entrance to Yellowstone National Park, the country's first national park. With a population of 7,000, Livingston provides all the amenities of a major city but offers the safety and charm of small-town living.

Whether searching for a quaint mountain town to spend a vacation or wanting a good place to start a new business, Livingston might be just what you're looking for.

Livingston, Montana was established, courtesy of the Northern Pacific Railroad Co., in December, 1882.

Livingston's location was midway on the St. Paul, Minnesota to Tacoma, Washington line and, although it's doubtful railroad executives were aware of it, the place had been an important trail nexus for some 11,000 years.

South of Livingston lay Yellowstone National Park. The Northern Pacific Railroad would become a major player in popularizing the wonderland and Livingston, would become host to many of the nation's notables, and see tens of thousands of visitors from all over the world pass through on their way to Yellowstone National Park.

From its beginnings, Livingston was well planned with a built-in aura of respectability. Although its early years didn't entirely escape the boom and bust roughness of a frontier town, construction of the Northern Pacific's running repair shops and brick business buildings along Park Street left no doubt Livingston was to be a town of permanence.

The Livingston Depot complex was completed in 1902 and Northern Pacific's repair and maintenance shops became Livingston's primary work place. By the 1950's over 1100 workers were employed at the shops and Livingston's population peaked. During the next 30 years, the town's robust railroad economy began to fade. As automobiles and interstate highways overtook the reliance on rail travel, passenger service slipped from four trains a day to Amtrak to none.

The most enduring feature of the town, however, is its place on the Big Bend of the Yellowstone River and the outdoor ethic which has historically sustained it.

This journal entry from the Corps of Discovery exploration is the first written account of the area near Livingston and marks the beginning of what historians consider the modern history of the region.

"Passing over a low dividing ridge to the head of a water Course [Bilman Creek] which runs into the Rochejhone, prosueing an old buffalow road which enlarges by one which joins it from the most Easterly branch of Galetins R.…The mountains [the Absaroka Range and the Beartooth Mountains] to the S. S. E on the East side of the river is rocky rugid and on them are great quantities of Snow." - Capt. William Clark July 15, 1806

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