Located between the Gallatin River and Interstate I-90, Logan is a forgotten yet still historically significant railroad junction on the Northern Pacific Railroad. Established c.
1890 the place was first known as Canyon House, for early settlers, and then named Logan in honor of a family who owned land there.
Logan became the place where Northern Pacific trains went one of two ways: crossing the river and heading to the recently established state capitol of Helena or staying south of the river and heading to the copper mines at Butte.
In time the railroad company developed Logan as a mini-division point with a roundhouse, other railroad support buildings, and offices. Today none of that remains–the roundhouse burned during the depression and was not replaced–but the tracks still dominate all views of the town.
One key community building that documents the early 20th century prominence of Logan is the two-story brick school. It has been closed since my last visit in the 1980s but was converted into private use, and was for sale when I stopped in 1985. Its size, brick construction, and classic progressive school architecture design speaks to the
promise that residents held for the town c. 1920. A historic church building also exists from the founding decades of Logan. It too is now closed and faces an uncertain future.
As the various images of the railroad corridor indicates, Logan is still a busy place for train traffic but its population never rebounded after the depression decade. Train traffic during World War II boosted local fortunes a bit–and the town’s large depot served hundreds of customers a day into the late 1940s. But once the Northern Pacific switched to diesel, coal stops like Logan was no longer necessary. When I visited in 2015 I expected to find little to nothing but the tracks–or much more than I ever expected if the boom that had overwhelmed Belgrade and was consuming Manhattan had reached Logan. A bit of whimsy instead has come into Logan, along with one of the best bar/steakhouses in this region: the aptly named Land of Magic Dinner Club–the type of Montana oasis you cannot get enough of.