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Helena, Bozeman, and Southwest Montana Travel Guide

Deer Lodge

Deer Lodge, a quiet community of 3,400 residents, maintains a complex of history museums in and near its old state penitentiary. Many locals make their living by ranching, which came to the 55-mi-long Deer Lodge Valley in 1862, when John Grant built the area’s first cabin and began a cattle operation, selling beef to miners. Ranching remained the primary industry as the town of Deer Lodge

developed. Its name derives from a 40-foot-high geothermal mound that used to emit steam from its top; Native Americans thought it resembled a large medicine lodge. The minerals and water attracted deer, and so the Native Americans named the place Deer Lodge. The mound is hidden behind trees and buildings at the Warm Springs State Hospital.

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