The railroad tracks going through the center of Laurel reﬂect the town's history as a railroad hub in the early 1900s. As the coal mining production grew in the Red Lodge area, the demand for transportation became greater and Laurel became a division point for different railroad companies. Because Laurel is only 16 miles from Billings, it has also become a suburb of the big city.
Toward the end of her life, Calamity Jane was said to have resided about 9 miles from Laurel near the Canyon Creek Battleground. Laurel is said to have the largest ﬁreworks show in the state on the 4th of July. The Mountain Man Rendezvous is a yearly celebration, held towards the end of July. It recaptures the Lewis & Clark Expedition that charted the Yellowstone River.
Laurel is considered by many to be the “recreational hub of Montana.” From this small town, Yellowstone National Park can be entered four different ways. It is straddled on both sides by a complex labyrinth of railroad tracks, the largest and busiest rail yard in Montana. The ﬁrst post ofﬁce opened its doors in 1886, and the city was incorporated in 1908. The “Laurel Leaf” reﬁnery began operation in 1930 with the present-day name of CENEX.
Laurel is replete with history: On Lewis & Clark's return trip from the West Coast, they split up into two teams exploring the rivers. Clark's party camped near the junction of the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone and the Yellowstone River which is near present-day Laurel. Downtown you will ﬁnd a statue in Firemans Park commemorating the great Nez Perce leader, Chief Joseph.
Laurel is near many recreational areas. To the south, there is the majestic Big Horn Canyon with the Yellowtail Reservoir, known for its sheer beauty and as an Adventureland for boaters. Below the reservoir lies the Bighorn River, which carries with it some of the ﬁnest trout ﬁshing. Northeast of Laurel is the nation's largest earth-ﬁlled dam at Fort Peck; to the west is the renowned Yellowstone River.
Also, observe Montana's largest free Fourth of July ﬁreworks display in Laurel each year if in the area during this holiday.
Photo Gallery Red Lodge Area