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Red Lodge is the county seat of Carbon County, Montana. Officially founded in 1884, the area belonged to the Crow Indians prior to the arrival of European-Americans. Although it is not known that they had a permanent settlement there, the Crows used the area during their summer hunts. An influx of settlers and workers came into the region after the Rocky Fork Coal Company opened a mine there in 1887. During this boom period, Red Lodge had twenty saloons. An early resident of Red Lodge was John “Liver Eating” Johnston, who was said to have resembled a grizzly bear, and was rumored to have earned his nickname by gouging out and eating the livers of those who crossed him, and who served as the town’s deputy sheriff. In 1897, the Sundance Kid robbed the Red Lodge Bank, and the Pollard Hotel, across the street, lent rooms to Buffalo Bill Cody, William Jennings Bryant, Calamity Jane, and Frederic Remington during its history. Due to strip mining in southeastern Montana, the West Side Mine in Red Lodge closed, then the Great Depression brought about the closure of other area mines. The last mine in Carbon County closed in 1943, when an underground explosion resulted in the deaths of seventy-four men at the Smith Mine in Bearcreek, four miles east of Red Lodge. Today the city depends largely upon tourism, recreation, and ranching. Red Lodge is bordered to the west by the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, and by Wyoming to the south.


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