The state of Montana has a rich Native American history, with several tribes, including the Blackfeet, Crow, Salish, and Kootenai, having lived in the region for thousands of years. Many Native American traditions and customs are still practiced in Montana today, including powwows and traditional beadwork.
Custer County, Montana has a rich history that dates back thousands of years. Before European settlers arrived, the area was inhabited by various indigenous tribes, including the Sioux and the Crow. These tribes relied on the region's bountiful natural resources for hunting and gathering.

The arrival of European explorers and fur traders in the early 19th century brought significant changes to the area. The Lewis and Clark Expedition passed through the region in 1806, exploring the Yellowstone River and encountering Native American tribes along the way. In the following decades, trappers and traders established fur trading posts, such as Fort Parker and Fort Buford, further developing the area.

The discovery of gold in the mid-1860s brought a wave of settlers to Custer County. The town of Miles City became an important hub for gold prospectors, and the area experienced a rapid increase in population. The gold rush also led to conflicts with the Native American tribes, resulting in several clashes, most notably the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876.

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Custer County evolved into an agricultural and ranching region. The wide open plains and fertile soil made it ideal for cattle ranching and farming. The establishment of the Milwaukee Road railroad in the early 1900s further stimulated the local economy, providing transportation for goods and people.

Today, Custer County remains an important agricultural area, known for its cattle ranching and wheat farming. The county also attracts visitors with its natural beauty, including the nearby Yellowstone River and the iconic Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, where the Battle of Little Bighorn took place.

This timeline provides a glimpse into the major events and milestones that have shaped the history of Custer County, Montana.

  • 1865: Custer County was established by the Montana Territorial Legislature.
  • 1874: Gold was discovered in the area, leading to a rush of settlers.
  • 1876: General George Armstrong Custer and his troops were killed at the Battle of Little Bighorn, which took place in the eastern part of present-day Custer County.
  • 1881: The first courthouse was built in Miles City, which became the county seat.
  • 1916: The county fairgrounds were established in Miles City.
  • 1943: The first oil well was drilled in Custer County, leading to the development of the oil industry in the area.
  • 1962: The Tongue River Dam was completed, creating Tongue River Reservoir.
  • 1976: The Custer Battlefield Museum was opened near the site of the Battle of Little Bighorn.
  • 2007: The Custer County Art and Heritage Center was established in Miles City to preserve and showcase local art and history.