Billings, Montana isn't this magical city's only moniker. It's also referred to as The City Beneath the Rimrocks. This name describes the area's Rims or Rimrocks. The Magic City is its other name. The Magic City moniker became famous because of Billings's explosive growth after the railroad arrived in March 1882. Today, the city continues to grow as a vital trade area and retail destination.
The city is the hometown of many famous athletes such as NFL player Mitch Donahue, Olympic gold medal swimmer Mike Burton, and LPGA golfer Leslie Spalding. In addition, the town has long attracted famous expeditions and celebrities. Calamity Jane, Charles Lindberg, and the famous Lewis and Clark Expedition all have connections to the city Beneath the Rimrocks. Check out our list of five fun facts about Billings, MT.
5 Fun Facts About Billings MT
1. Calamity Jane
Infamous professional scout and frontierswoman Martha Canary lived in Billings. If you've never heard of Martha Canary, she is more popularly known as Calamity Jane. During 1984, she owned a cabin just west of Billings on Canyon Creek. It's hard to draw the line between fact and fiction, but Calamity Jane is reputed to have a law-bending and breaking side and spent time in county jail.
2. Charles Lindbergh
Famed aviator Charles Lindbergh got stranded in Billings in 1922 and spent four months in the Magic City. He didn't spend his four months in Billings being idle, however. He spent his time performing exciting parachute jumping exhibitions. A newspaper writer described the aviator as the Daredevil Parachute Jumper. Charles Lindbergh's shows took place in a cow pasture and at the fairgrounds. Today, the area is now Homestead Business Park on the West End.
3. The Original Zimmerman Trail
Brothers Joseph and Frank Zimmerman built the original Zimmerman Trail from 1890 to 1891. Joseph Zimmerman was a sheep farmer and needed to move their sheep along the Rims face, up Alkali Creek, and their summer pastures. Unfortunately, arranging for supplies such as drinking water on the two-day, 16-mile trip was extremely challenging. So Joseph hired his brother Frank to help build a trail up the Rims. They blasted out the route, which saved 12 miles one way. Instead of taking two days to complete the trip, it only took 5 hours.
The trail remained an important throughway. Cars replaced wagons. They improved the roads to meet more modern needs in 1938. Paving of the Zimmerman Trail occurred in the 1940s.
4. Luther Sage Kelly
Luther Sage Kelly, later known as Yellowstone Kelly, was a venerated American scout and warrior. He lied about his age to enlist in the military at age 16. He is known for scouting and taming the Wild West. He requested burial in Montana. He was laid to rest in what is now Swords Park, overlooking the breathtaking Yellowstone Valley.
5. Lewis and Clark Expedition
The Lewis and Clark Expedition explored the Billings area in 1806. William Clark arrived at the rock now known as Pompeys Pillar on July 25, 1806. He described the visit in his journal and noted the remarkable rock. William Clark described climbing the rock and enjoying an extensive, 360-degree view. Clark named the rock Pompey's Pillar to honor the son of his interpreter and guide, the famous Sacajawea. He also inscribed his name and the date into the rock. You can still see the inscription today. Pompey's Pillar is a national monument, and today visitors can tour an interpretive center next to the monument.
Enjoy Fun and Fascinating Billings, Montana
The Magic City continues to draw celebrities and intrigue to this day. Visit Billings, Montana, and discover the magic for yourself.