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Grey Cliff

Grey Cliff, named for the sandstone bluffs near the town, was established in 1882. The little town was located under the bluffs on the south side of Interstate 90 just east of the present site. There was a coal dock, water tank and a "Y" to turn the engines around on the railroad. A general store, saloon and boarding house with a few year-round residents made up the town. In 1890, the Northern Pacific Railroad moved Grey Cliff nearer to the tracks and the Yellowstone River. The first school was built in 1910. In 1949, the town was moved again to its present site. Between 1910 and 1924, Grey Cliff thrived. It boasted two general stores, a blacksmith shop, garage, livery barn, lumber yard, grain elevator, rail road depot, hotel, saloon, saddle shop, restaurant, post office, pool hall, dance hall and cigar factory. With the increase of motorized transportation, making it easier for the local people to get to the larger towns, the little town slowly became the close knit community it is today. Near Grey Cliff is the Pelican Fishing Access on the Yellowstone River. Across the Interstate is the Prairie Dog Town State Park. You can enjoy lunch while watching these little creatures in their natural habitat.

The Thomas Party
Historical Marker east of Greycliff

In 1866, William Thomas, his son Charles, and a driver named Schultz left southern Illinois bound for the Gallatin Valley, Montana. Travelling by covered wagon, they joined a prairie schooner outfit at Fort Laramie, Wyoming, and started over the Bridger Trail. The train was escorted by troops detailed to build a fort (C. E Smith) on the Big Horn River.

From the site of this fort the Thomas party pushed on alone. A few days later they were killed at this spot by hostile Indians. Emigrants found the bodies and buried them in one grave.

The meager details which sifted back greatly impressed William Thomas’s seven-year old nephew. Seventy-one years later (1937), this nephew closely followed the Bridger Trail by car and succeeded in locating the almost forgotten grave.

Excerpted from "The Ultimate Montana Atlas and Travel Encyclopedia".

Copyright © 2003 Michael Dougherty. Use of this material for radio and television programs, printed media, webcasting, and any other source of mass dissemination is prohibited without permission of the publisher.

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