Boothill Inn Blog

Our namesake

Boothill Inn & Suites’ namesake is located just across the street from the hotel. It is a true symbol of the rough and tumble wild west that early Montana is known for; Boothill Cemetery. This cemetery, while technically called the Coulson City Cemetery, came to be known as Boothill due to the unproportionate number of those interred who died unexpectedly ‘with their boots on’. Coulson was the name of the ramshackle town that sprung up along the banks of the Yellowstone River in response to the steamboat traffic travelling up and down the river in the early 1800’s.

The town itself was founded in 1877, just one year after the infamous massacre of Lt. Col George Custer and his 7th Cavalry at the Battle of the Little Bighorn just a day’s ride to the southeast. In fact, the man who first brought news of the battle to newspapers in the area was a deputy sheriff in Coulson. He earned his plot at Boothill Cemetery when he tried to stop a drunken man from beating his wife and was shot dead in the ensuing gunfight. Coulson was the epitome of a wild west town, where both men and women tended to live fast and die hard. Boothill Cemetery is the last remaining monument to this frontier town and the brave men and women who paved the way for Billings to become the city it is today.

Fast forward nearly 118 years and construction began on our hotel, Boothill Inn & Suites. As guests look out their windows, they look out on an area that is home to centuries of history. The ancestral winter campsite of the nearby Crow tribe of Native Americans, was right near the hotel. This is also where they would go to hunt for their teepee poles. Many years before that a buffalo jump was located here. Countless Crow legends and frontier tales told around barroom tables are centered right here, where Alkali Creek leaves the rims and flows down into the Yellowstone River.

Today this area also offers a wide range of recreation and tourist sites. Just a stone’s throw from the cemetery is the entrance to the Trail system, a network of over 31 miles of trails our guests can access without ever having to use a car. This system winds up to the top of Billings’ famous Rimrocks. Along the way you’ll see informational signs pointing out fascinating sites like Skull Cliff, the site of an ancient Crow burial ground. You’ll also learn about Luther ‘Yellowstone’ Kelly, a frontier scout, veteran of both the Civil War and Philippine-American War, and all-around mountain man who asked to be buried atop the rims at his favorite spot in the west. From the trail you can explore the rims and see views of the city and the Yellowstone River Valley. The trail allows you to access many of Billings’ most scenic parks and attractions including Two Moon Park, Riverfront Park, and Coulson Park, located on the site of the old town. You can even rent bikes right at Boothill Inn! Just ask the front desk for details. For more information on the trails and a full trail map visit https://www.billingstrailnet.org/trails/ or pick up a map brochure from the front desk.

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