The township of Monarch is located 45 miles southeast of Great Falls, MT on US 89, which is part of a 71 mile stretch of the Kings Hill National Scenic Byway through the Little Belt Rocky Mountains. This byway leads people to 450 miles of county and Forest Service recreational roads and trails taking visitors to campgrounds and fishing streams with scenic views of the mountains and wildlife.
The town of Monarch was established in 1889 for the mining activity in the Hughesville/Barker area. Monarch was the shipping center where the unprocessed ore was shipped to the silver smelter in Great Falls. Although mining was the major component of the economic and social development of the area, farming and ranching relied on the railroad as a trade center and a shipping point for crops and livestock. Within months of the arrival of the railroad, the people from Great Falls soon discovered the recreational potential of the area.
By September of 1890, the railroad dropped off fisherman at various locations along Belt Creek as the train approached Monarch to be returned to Great Falls on the afternoon trip. When Belt Creek was named a blue ribbon trout stream in the 1920s, the railroad ran special “fishing trains” on Sundays.
Construction of the original depot was completed in September 1890. That building burned in 1900 and was replaced with the current structure in 1902. It was the center of a much larger railroad complex consisting of the section-house, pump house, water tower, and windmill. Although thought of as a service for passengers, the depot would soon become the social center of Monarch.
In the 1920s, the county road from Great Falls to Monarch was little more than a wagon trail. Mining activity waned after World War II, and with continued improvements on the county road, vehicle traffic increased to the point where in 1945 the railroad was abandoned.
The Montana Department of Transportation (MDOT) purchased the depot in 1946 and altered it for their own use. Monarch-Neihart Historical Group (MNHG) received ownership of the Monarch Depot from MDOT in June, 2013.
Great Falls to Neihart Train Line
The engineer was Gus Elmer Mans and the movie was shot by his son who rode in the caboose.
Monarch-Neihart Historical Group, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Contributions are tax-deductible under the provisions of Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Monarch-Neihart Historical Group, Inc. conducts its affairs so as to maintain this status. Tax I.D. #: 46-1853767.