Miles City has always been one of my favorite western towns. Located near the confluence of the Tongue and Yellowstone rivers, the town’s early history and prominence in the Yellowstone Valley remains significant, if understudied. More attention has been given to the town’s turn of the century transformation, when the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul, and Pacific Railway entered into the Yellowstone Valley and here at Miles City it located shops and a classically styled passenger station to compete with the already established Northern Pacific Railroad. The town has a bevy of interesting buildings, commercial, public, and domestic, built between 1990 and 1930. The Great Depression hit the town and countryside particularly hard, and the New Deal reacted with numerous projects, particularly the city park that is such a central community element today.
But you most often come to Miles City not for the historic buildings per se but for the cowboy vibe, and the historic bars along Main Street. The Montana Bar is my favorite–and more on it in a later posting. But across the street is another time-tested spot, the Range Rider, always eye-catching due to the giant bar sign. Here is the one from 1984.
At the west end of town on old U.S. 10 is the Range Riders Museum, a mid-twentieth century institution that interprets the region’s western, and particularly its ranching, history. Don’t know which place took the name Range Riders first. But both remain in operation, although the Range Rider bar has a new name, perhaps evocative of the 21st century, and has shifted the sign to the adjacent building. Below is the bar and sign of May 2013–not as overwhelming perhaps, but still evocative of Miles City’s history and culture.