The Yellowstone County Museum was founded in 1953 by a group of local individuals including Judge Ben Harwood, Paul McCormick, Jr., and Peter Yegen, Jr. with the support of the Yellowstone Historical Society, Parmly Billings Library, the Pioneers of Eastern Montana, Yellowstone County, and the City of Billings.
The collection of the Yellowstone County Museum contains over 23,000 artifacts displayed in 5,000 square feet of exhibit space. It consists of artifacts specific to the region and includes items from prehistory through the Fur Trade Era and Post Reservation Period, as well as an expansive photograph collection and a military collection with artifacts from both World Wars and the Korean and Vietnam Conflicts. An expansive collection of Plains Indian artifacts includes war bonnets, moccasins, clothing, dolls, and trade items.
The cabin which serves as the Museum’s entrance and contains the gift shop was originally built by Paul McCormick, Sr., an early day pioneer in the Yellowstone River region. The cabin was moved from its original location in Downtown Billings up airport road to its current site in 1954. Adjacent to the cabin is the landmarks gallery which houses a number of different exhibits during the year, including the annual Saddle Up! Exhibit showcasing saddles and tack from various artists and donors each October through December. Authentic western artifacts include saddles, chaps, bridles, a chuck wagon, a sheep wagon, and other items from early area ranches.
Located on the Museum grounds is American Location Company #1031, the last steam switch engine used in Billings, which was donated to the Museum in 1956 by the Northern Pacific Railroad.
A few yards away is the “Range Rider of the Yellowstone,” a bronze statue of the 1920s silent movie film star, William S. Hart. It was sculpted by C.C. Cristadoro and presented by Hart to the people of Billings in 1927.