Colstrip Montana


When steam locomotives were in their heyday, crisscrossing Montana, hauling passengers, freight, mail, and other goods, the coal to fire those locomotives came from an area in southeastern Montana that has become synonymous with coal mining. Even the name, Colstrip, is a combination of the word "coal" and the process used to extract it from the ground "strip mining."

Just under the surface of the ground is a rich vein of lignite, a type of low sulfur coal that burns more cleanly than coal from other parts of the country. The coal deposit here is nearly flat, making it relatively easy to mine.

In 1959 — about the time the railroad was switching to diesel engines — the Northern Pacific Railroad sold the coal leases to the Montana Power Company — a deal that included all the machinery to mine the coal and the Colstrip townsite. A Montana Power subsidiary started mining the coal in the late 1960s, and at that time Colstrip consisted of about 60 houses, two churches, a school, a grain elevator. Today, Colstrip is a thriving community in the shadow of the huge electric generation plants.


Photo Gallery Southeast Montana Area

About Us

Our mission is to provide the most comprehensive information site for the state of Montana. We welcome public input and comments.


1627 W. Main #447
Bozeman, MT 59715

Contact Us

Created with love by New Times Media Corporation

We're New Times Media - a friendly and fun group of people. At New Times Media we love to share anything and everything we know about the great state of Montana, so we created this site to make learning about our state as easy as possible. Our site is free to use and has the simplest possible user interface.

Privacy policy:

We use Google Analytics for site usage analytics. Your IP address is saved on our web server, but it's not associated with any personally identifiable information. We want you to enjoy and benefit from our site without worrying about who is tracking you (OK, so Google might track you, but that’s not us!)

Terms of service: the legal stuff

By using our site you agree to our Terms of service. TLDR: You don't need an account to use our site. Our site is free of charge and you can use it as much as you want. You need an account if you wish to list your business or control your business information. You can't do illegal or shady things with a business listing on our site. We may block your access to your page(s), if we find out you're doing something bad. Share anything you see, but don’t use our stuff for your own use without permission from us. We’re not liable for your actions and we offer no warranty. We may revise our terms at any time.