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Colstrip, Montana is the largest city in Rosebud County, although not the county seat. The city was established by the Northern Pacific Railway in 1924 to provide coal to its steam locomotives, through its pit strip mining operations. During World War II, the Colstrip Mine was deemed strategically important by the United States government, as it supplied coal for the steam locomotives carrying military equipment for the war effort. As a result, the mine was guarded against sabotage and mine employees were not permitted to quite their jobs. When the railroad switched to diesel locomotives in 1958, the mine was closed. The following year, the Montana Power Company bought the rights to the mine and the town, resuming mining operations in the 1970s, using the coal to fuel its new coal-fired electrical plants. In 1974, Castle Rock Lake was built, using water pumped through an underground pipe from the Yellowstone River, producing electricity from coal using steam, while the lake is stocked with fish. Commercial operations by the Colstrip Energy Limited Project began in 1990, the electricity production facility owned by Rosebud Energy Corporation, until the plants were sold to PPL Corporation in 1998, and the Rosebud Coal Mine was sold to Westmoreland Mining LLC, the year that Colstrip was incorporated as a city. Colstrip is north of Lame Deer and the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation, and south of Forsyth and Rosebud.



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