Montana History:  Place Names (A-B)




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  Select brief notes about place names throughout the state, with an emphasis on towns.

A-B, C-D, E-G, H-L, M-R, S, T-Z

Photo above on Left:  The community of Landusky is named for
Powell "Pike" Landusky, reputed to be one of the toughest rough-and-tumble fighters of the west, who was killed by Kid Curry in 1894.

Select Towns and Their Stories
in the Yellowstone Valley between the mountains and plains, Billings is Montana's largest city
located north of Yellowstone National Park, Bozeman was founded by a Georgian
at the turn of the 20th century, Butte was one of the largest cities west of the Mississippi

Place Names of Towns and Landmarks (A-B)
County location in parenthesis; place names are towns unless indicated otherwise.

The listing below is condensed and edited from a more comprehensive list on the Montana Railroad History site (compiled from several sources, primarily The Montana Almanac 1957 edition, published by Montana State University).

For those interested in more than this cursory listing of place names, consider purchasing a copy of Montana Place Names: From Alzada to Zortman, published by the Montana Historical Society press, or visit the accompanying interactive website. Also see the 1954 article, "Montana Place Name Records," by Lucille Childears.

Alberton (Mineral) - named for Albert J. Earling, pres. of Chicago, Mil., St. Paul & Pacific Railway
Aldridge (Park) - named for Mr. Aldridge, director of the Montana Coal & Coke company
Allendale (Yellowstone) - named for Dr. W. A. Allen, who laid out the townsite
Alzada (Carter) - named for Mrs. Alzada Sheldon in 1890, a settler in 1883; prior name: Stoneville
Anaconda Mine - named after Gen. McClellan's Anaconda strategy during the Civil War
Anaconda (Deer Lodge) - county seat named after the Anaconda Mine in Butte
Arlee (Lake) - named for Flathead Indian chief, Arlee
Armstead (Beaverhead) - named for Harry Armstead, a mining man
(Petroleum) - named for Eben L. Ashley, who homesteaded there in early days
Assiniboine - Indian Tribe, old fort, & military reservation; refers to stony nature of the land
Augusta (Lewis & Clark) - named for a daughter of D. J. Hogan, prominent area rancher
Aznoe (Chouteau) - named for Walter & Myron Aznoe who maintained P.O. on their ranch 1913-15
Bainville (Roosevelt) - named for C. M. Bainville a local resident of that section
Baker (Fallon) - County Seat; named for A.G. Baker, engineer with Chicago, Mil., St. Paul & Pacific RR
Banna[o]ck (Beaverhead) - "southern people" or "root diggers"; named for tribe of Indians
Barker (Judith Basin) - named for "Buck" Barker, discovered a mine in this section, October 23, 1879
Battrick (Fergus) - named for a post master, a local resident
Bay Horse (Powder River) - named for a creek, in turn derived named from a wild bay stallion
Bear Paw Mountains (Hill, Blaine, Chouteau) - named for the ridges that resemble a bear's paw
Beaverhead (Beaverhead) - river named for beaver head shaped rock, county name from Indians
Belgrade (Gallatin) - named in honor of a capitalist from Belgrade, Serbia who traveled through town
Belltower (Carter) - named for a butte in the neighborhood, resembling a bell in shape
Bennett Creek (Carbon) - creek named for Captain Bennett of the U.S. Army, killed by Indians, 1878
Bernice (Jefferson) - named for Bernice Cannon, dau. of Charles W. Cannon of Helena, railroad VP
Big Horn (Big Horn) - County & river; named for Rocky Mountain sheep, frequently called "big horn"
Big Swamp Creek (Beaverhead) - creek named from swamp land caused by beaver dams
Big Timber (Sweet Grass) - named for the old Big Timber stage station at mouth of Big Timber Cr.
Billings (Yellowstone) - County Seat; named for Billings family, railroad barron
Billmar Creek (Park) - named for Andrew Billmar, an early settler
Birdseye (Lewis & Clark) - probably named for Charles G. Birdseye, a prominent resident
Birdtail Divide (Cascade) - a spur of hills; one peak resembles a bird's tail spread
Birney (Rosebud) - named by Joe Brown for his partner in the cattle business
Bitterroot - Mountains & Valley; named after the bitterroot plant
Blackfoot (Glacier) - named for the Blackfoot [Blackfeet] Indians
Blackwood (Gallatin) - named for Edward L. Blackwood &  A. B. Blackwood, settlers in 1880s
Blaine (Blaine) - named for James G. Blaine, United States Senator from Maine
Blair (Roosevelt) - named for Sidney D. Blair, a local resident
Bloody Dick Creek (Beaverhead) - creek named for an Englishman living there in the 1860s
Bonner (Missoula) - named fro E.L. Bonner, early settler in Missoula and RR president
Boulder (Jefferson) - County Seat; named for stream along which there are numerous boulders
Boyes (Carter) - named for a Mr. Boyes, a resident of the vicinity
Bozeman (Gallatin) - County Seat; named for John M. Bozeman, pioneer, 1864 settler
Bridger (Carbon) - named for Jim Bridger, scout, fur trader and guide; originally named Stringtown
Broadus (Powder River) - County Seat; named for Broaddus family, early settlers on Powder River
Broadwater (Broadwater) - county named for Colonel Charles A. Broadwater, a pioneer
Brockway (McCone) - named for a James Brockway, an early settler in that section
Browning (Glacier) - named for Commissioner Browning of the Bureau of Indian Affairs
Brown's Gulch (Silver Bow) - gulch named for Peter Brown, who located a claim there in the 1860s
Bruffey's (Park) - named for George, an early settler in the vicinity
Burtonville (Teton) - named for Z.T. Burton, founder of the settlement
Butte (Silver Bow) - named for a prominent butte overlooking the city
Bynum (Teton) - named for the Bynum family, early settlers in the region


Montana History Net is produced by Bruce Gourley.  Photographs, except Clark signature, copyright Bruce Gourley.