Red Lodge is a beautiful town of about 2200 (up 2% since 2000) located at the intersection of U.S. Highway 212 and Montana Highway 78 in Carbon County in Southern Montana near the border with Wyoming. Red Lodge is in the spectacular Beartooth Mountains and 212 is one of the most impressive drives in the country. Red Lodge is part of the Billings Metropolitan Statistical Area. In 1951, the U.S. Government ceded the area that now contains Red Lodge to the Crow Nation. When coal was discovered here in 1866 and gold nearby in 1870, surprise, the government took the land back and opened it up for settlement. Red Lodge was established in 1884 as a mining boom town and the usual “colorful and lawless” activities came too. Many of the mines closed during the Great Depression and the town suffered. I heard the town became famous again during prohibition for selling bootleg whiskey in syrup bottles and calling the product “syrup”. Today Red Lodge is a popular tourist destination due to its many beautifully restored historic buildings, its colorful history, and its abundant natural beauty and outdoor recreation (like hiking, biking, fishing, skiing, and more. I have heard a couple of different stories about the origin of the town’s name. The one that seems the most credible so far is that the Crow Indians used to meet her and they coated the council teepee with red clay, thus the name “Red Lodge”. Red Lodge is the county seat of Carbon County. Carbon County was established in 1895 and was named for the vast coal deposits in the area. The Carbon County Courthouse was completed in 1899 and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Red Lodge has a very nice historical area with many buildings of historical and/or architectural interest. There are 5 historic districts and 5 individual locations in Red Lodge listed in the National Register of Historic Places.