145 miles E of Billings; 70 miles SW of Glendive
Miles City gets its name from Col. Nelson A. Miles -- the commander of the Fifth Cavalry who was ordered to return bands of Indians to reservations in the summer of 1876. As the world moves on around it, Miles City has retained its Western flair for more than a century. In the early days, as portrayed in Larry McMurtry's novel Lonesome Dove, Miles City was a cowboy town on the verge of becoming a leading cattle market; the market came with the arrival of the Northern Pacific Railroad in 1881.
Today, Miles City maintains its cowboy traditions with its annual Bucking Horse Sale -- which attracts rodeo stock contractors from all over the country -- and the Range Riders Museum, a thorough collection of photographs and firearms from the old days. It's where remote ranchers come when they need barbed wire or tractor axles, and still boasts a traditional Main Street with a saloon and lunch counter. Residents take an active pride in the town's lack of parking meters -- a vestige of its civility and small population.
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