Billings has a very long history, with the discovery of artifacts showing that the region has been inhabited since at least 2600 BCE. The first known inhabitants were the Crow Indians, who occupied the area beginning in 1700.
The region was originally known as Clark’s Fork Bottom, which served as a hub for hauling freight. In 1877, settlers formed the town of Coulson, the first town in the Yellowstone Valley. A sawmill, general store, and trading post were opened when the town was established. It began to grow, and so other buildings and tents were erected to keep up with the population.
In its earliest occupied years, Coulson was a Wild West Town - their Sheriff's nickname was "Liver-Eating" Johnson and many arguments ended in gunfire and burial in Boothill Cemetery. The residents hoped the land would be near enough to the tracts of land that the railroad would help them grow as quickly as they intended to. The railroad came to the region shortly after and residents in Coulson believed that it would bring significant growth. However, the railroad company decided to create a new town nearby named Billings. The residents of Coulson eventually moved to the town of Billings, leaving Coulson to become part of Billings in the 1930s eventually. The park known as Coulson Park marks the original area of settlement.
The city of Billings was founded officially in 1882. The town only had three buildings but soon had over 2,000 less than one year after it was established. In the early 20th century, Billings’ population grew to over 10,000. The city was one of the fastest-growing in the U.S - and even earned the nickname - "Magic City" - due to its incredible growth rate. Oil fields were discovered in the state, followed by natural gas and coal reserves made the city a center of energy and boosted the economy.
When World War II ended, the city diversified by becoming the center of finance, medicine, and culture. The population continued to grow. Through the 1970s, Billings continued to be a leader in the energy sector. The city also saw significant growth through its downtown area during this time and through the 1980s, including the construction of Sage Tower and Granite Tower.
Billings continued to expand with the addition of shopping centers, malls, business parks, and hotels through the 1990s. This growth has continued through the 21st century as more business parks are open and the downtown area has been updated with new buildings, a transit center, and parking garages. The economy has also remained strong, making Billings a desirable city for many residents.