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Preserve America Community:
Livingston, Montana

Livingston, Montana, (population 7,000), is located on the banks of the Yellowstone River at the same spot where William Clark and his party stopped to rest on July 15, 1806. Livingston was founded in 1882, 76 years after that event was recorded in the Lewis and Clark expedition’s records.  

The community was first named Clark City in honor of Herman Clark, a well known contractor and builder for the Northern Pacific Railroad. The town plat was filed later that year under the name Livingston in recognition of Johnston Livingston, a director and major stockholder of the railroad. 

The railroad provided a means of transporting coal, wool, and cattle to market. It also enabled Livingston to serve as the original gateway to Yellowstone, the nation’s first national park. Mining and agriculture were additional economic factors in the town’s development.

Today, Livingston is the 11th largest city in Montana. Rail transportation continues to be a mainstay of the area’s economy, along with tourism, recreation, agriculture, and mining. 

Livingston is engaged in a major restoration of the historic Livingston Depot, built in 1902 to serve as the Northern Pacific’s point of access to Yellowstone. The depot features three Italianate buildings with ornate terra-cotta detail, terrazzo mosaics, 25-foot coffered ceilings, and brass ornamentation. The renamed Livingston Depot Center serves as a museum and hosts community concerts, festivals, lectures, and holiday events.   

Another attraction is the Park County Museum, housed in the Northside School, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  In addition to historical artifacts, documents, and photos, the museum features a 100-year-old Northern Pacific Railroad caboose, a 1930s LaFrance Fire Engine, and a restored blacksmith shop and sheepherder’s wagon. 

Livingston’s three-day Roundup Rodeo has been held annually since 1924 and draws more than 10,000 spectators every year. Visitors can take a driving tour through Park County and a walking tour through the town’s historic district. 

For more information

City of Livingston: www.ci.livingston.mt.us

Livingston museums: www.livingstonmuseums.org

Posted May 26, 2009

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