Deer Lodge, Montana
539 Main Street
The Ranching and Mining Capital
The Deer Lodge Valley consists mainly of prairies and meadows surrounded by expansive mountain ranges on the east and west. The low-lying foothills became the home of Deer Lodge in the 1850's, starting out as a mining town, with trading and trapping as well. Its name came from the cone of sediment that rose out of the ground to nearly 40 feet high. This cone, coupled with a hot spring that gave off steam in large quantities looked like a Native American lodge from a distance. Add in a large deer population that grazed in the meadows and you get Deer Lodge.
Deer Lodge started out as a mining town, with gold and silver being extracted from the Gold Creek area. With the wealth coming forth from the mines, investors set up camps and built mills to extract the gold and silver from the quartz. One of these investors was William Andrews Clark. With his simple mining operation, Clark would become one of the three richest men in Montana, eventually making his home in Deer Lodge for a short time.
But, mining wasn't the only trade that earned folks money. Around the same time a man named Johnny Grant moved to the area and created a ranch that would dwarf any other in the nation. As a cattle baron, Mr. Grant excelled and many others followed in his footsteps. His ranch that he created remained in his family until the National Park Service gained control and turned it into a place where visitors can learn about the history of ranching in this area.
In 1883, the Northern-Pacific railroad arrived and solidified Deer Lodge's place on the map. With access to distant places and reliable trade passage, both ranching and mining became lucrative. Although today Deer Lodge is not an active mining town and ranching isn't done on the scale that it was back in Mr. Grant's day, there is still a sense of place and the distinct history of this place is evident and truly western.
Like many places in Montana Deer Lodge has a variety of activities both inside and outside the town. The Deer Lodge Prison was erected before Montana was a state. It still stands and visitors are allowed to walk its halls during tours. Next to the prison there is an impressive automobile museum with vintage vehicles from days gone past. There are actually a number of museums in the area as well as a huge amount of outdoor recreational activities for the whole family.
If you are looking for a piece of property in this area, contact the Clearwater Montana Properties office in Deer Lodge. Our agents can help you find the property of your dreams and get you started on your Montana adventure.