Bearcreek, Montana

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Bearcreek is a town in Carbon County, Montana, United States. It is part of the Billings, Montana Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 83 at the 2000 census.

The town of Bearcreek was named for Bear Creek, which runs through the middle of town. The town is home to the Bear Creek Saloon which hosts fund raising pig races throughout the year.



Bearcreek is located at 45°09′35″N 109°09′23″W / 45.159849°N 109.156322°W / 45.159849; -109.156322 (45.159849, -109.156322).[1]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 0.1 square miles (0.3 km2), all of it land.


Bearcreek owes its existence to area coal mining that began in the 1890s to supply coal for the Northern Pacific Railroad and the Anaconda Company. The town was platted and incorporated after the arrival of the Montana, Wyoming & Southern Railroad in 1906, and it grew rapidly as American and foreign-born workers moved there, drawn by the promise of steady work. By 1917, the mines around Bearcreek were employing 1,200 men. With the trend toward natural gas for heating and diesel locomotives, however, the demand for coal fell sharply, and Bearcreek’s production was in decline by the late 1940s. After the 1953 closure of the railroad between Bridger and Bearcreek, the town’s population dwindled. Today Bearcreek is again growing thanks to its proximity to Red Lodge. With its diverse ethnic composition, Bearcreek traditionally celebrated Christmas twice, on December 25 and January 6, the Greek Orthodox Church holiday.[2]

Bearcreek was a coal mining town in the early 1900s, named for Bear Creek, which runs through the town. At its peak, Bearcreek and the surrounding communities of Washoe, New Caledonia, Chickentown, Scotch Coulee, International, and Stringtown, had a population of about 3,000 people, most of whom worked in the coal mines. Today, those surrounding towns are almost completely gone, with only a few houses and a quilt shop marking Washoe, currently the largest of them.[3]

A rail spur ran to the mines in and around Bearcreek from Belfry for extracting the coal. From Belfry, it could be taken north to Billings, Montana or south to Cody, Wyoming.

The town was platted and incorporated in 1906 after the arrival of the Montana, Wyoming & Southern Railroad. The population dwindled after 1953 when the railroad between Bridger and Bearcreek closed. Thanks to its proximity to Red Lodge, Bearcreek's population is growing again. [4]

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