Custer County

After the Custer Massacre in 1876, the US Military created forts in eastern Montana including one where the north-flowing Tongue river flowed into the east-flowing Yellowstone river. Fort Keogh (named after one of the massacre victims) started as a few rough winter cabins, but grew into a moderate sized western fort, from which its commander, Nelson Miles, effectively brought the remaining "uncontrolled" native Americans into subjuctation during the last decade of the 1800s. At first the camp followers referred to the makeshift village as "Milestown", but popular usage (perhaps more accurately "self-promotion") turned it to "Miles City". Livestock speculation brought thousands of cattle to the open ranges in the late 1880s, the railroad was extended through the area, and Texas drove numerous cattle to Miles City to fatten them on free grass and move them to where they could be loaded on trains bound for the slaughterhouses in Chicago. Miles City experienced rapid growth until the 1920s and 1930s, but became overshadowed by the upstart upriver, Billings.

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Jodi Samel
Custer County Coordinator

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