Coffee Creek, Montana, located on the high plains of northeastern Fergus County, is undoubtedly best known today as the backdrop for a series of Harlequin romance novels. The setting and the starkness of the landscape is probably not what you envision in a romance novel but it does convey the reality of what Coffee Creek was, and is, today.
Coffee Creek was a railroad town, established in the same year as many of its neighbors, in 1913. Unlike Denton to the east or Stanford to the south, Coffee Creek never grew beyond its booster beginnings. Like the others it had a state bank, a post office, school, churches. Today the post office remains–one of the best rural historic post offices of the region–but most everything else is closed. The church is a well-kept example of early
20th century vernacular Gothic design, but it no longer holds regularly scheduled services. It remains a community landmark.
Another community landmark is the building above, which I believe is a Community Hall from the 1920s or 1930s. Throughout rural Montana in the 1920s a movement began to build structures where the homesteaders who stayed could gather and have events, play basketball, or dance the night away. New Deal agencies in the 1930s built many more, like the one this blog has already recorded in Sanders, Montana. This building in Coffee Creek reminds me of the Sanders community hall–hopefully someone reading this blog can add details about it.
The volunteer fire hall, like the post office, is one community institution still in service to local residents and surrounding ranches as is the town cemetery, perched to the north, high on a hill overlooking the town, Highway 81, and ranches as far as you can see.
As the buildings of Coffee Creek fade away, here the cemetery will record the names of those who staked out this place as their home, while those who return to pay their respects will keep the memories of this disappearing place alive for as long as they remember to return.