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Riverfront Park along the Nez Perce National Historic Trail.
Riverfront Park along the Nez Perce National Historic Trail.
Official seal of Laurel
Location of Laurel, Montana
Location of Laurel, Montana
Country United States
State Montana
County Yellowstone
 • Type Mayor – Alderman
 • Total 2.16 sq mi (5.59 km2)
 • Land 2.16 sq mi (5.59 km2)
 • Water 0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
3,301 ft (1,006 m)
 • Total 7,222
 • Density 3,343.52/sq mi (1,291.95/km2)
Time zone UTC−7 (Mountain (MST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC−6 (MDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 406
FIPS code 30-42700
GNIS feature ID 0773254

Laurel is a city in Yellowstone County, Montana, United States. It is the third largest community in the Billings Metropolitan Statistical Area, and is located in the Yellowstone Valley, as an east–west terminal division point of the Burlington-Northern Railroad. The population was 7,222 at the 2020 census.

Laurel is home to a Cenex Harvest States oil refinery and Montana Rail Link's Laurel Yard, the largest rail yard between St. Paul, Minnesota and Pasco, Washington.


Before Laurel became a city or a community, people passed through the site during the gold rush period, when gold was discovered at the Clarks Fork headwaters. They came by team and wagon, and by small steamer vessels up the Yellowstone River. The government was in the process of planning a railroad to the west coast, and had surveying crews out to map the country on the most direct route. Many of the prospectors that went west in search of gold, felt that gold might be found in other parts of the state, so some returned to the Yellowstone Valley, and others came from the East to settle here. However, this did not take place until after the Custer Massacre in 1876. It was not until 1877 that the white man felt safe in the Yellowstone Valley, after the power of the Sioux was broken. So it was that while the memory of the Massacre of General Custer and his Command on the Little Big Horn River was still fresh in the minds of settlers of Montana, that a little community was established in the Yellowstone Valley.

The history of Laurel began when settlers began making their homes in the vicinity in 1879. There was a section house built that served as a depot and post office, situated about where Hobo Hill is, or near the center of the present railroad yards east of Laurel. The railroad pushed closer to Laurel from the east, up the Yellowstone Valley during the summer of 1882. Up to this time, there were about 200 people in the community. With the advent of the railroad, many people came to work, with the population growing to 368 in 1900, 806 in 1910, and 2,338 in 1920.

Laurel was originally known as the station of Carlton, however by 1883, its name was changed to Laurel, after a local shrub. Laurel was considered a town in 1906, but it was not until August 1908 that it became incorporated, and two months later, on October 10, 1908, city government was established with the election of a city council and mayor.


Laurel is located at 45°40′26″N 108°46′15″W / 45.67389°N 108.77083°W / 45.67389; -108.77083 (45.673986, -108.770893). It is located at 3300 feet (1006 m) above sea level.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.14 square miles (5.54 km2), all of it land.

Some of Laurel's residents commute the 15 miles (24 km) to Billings, Montana's largest city. Laurel is also significant as it lies on one of two main roads to Red Lodge, 45 miles (72 km) southwest on US 212; it is a popular mountain town and an end of the Beartooth Highway.

Laurel is also served by the Laurel Municipal Airport, a publicly owned public-use airport, which is located 2.4 miles (3.9 km) north of the central business district.


The City of Laurel now has two types of public transit available to City residents: a Demand-Response Service and a Van Pool to Billings.

Demand-Response Service is available Monday-Friday 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. This door-to-door service requires advance notice. Reservations must be made the day prior to need by 4:00 pm. You may make your reservation by calling the City of Laurel Public Works Department at 628–4796. On the 1st, 3rd, & 5th Wednesday of each month the Demand-Response Service will make trips to Billings. On these days the door-to-door service will be unavailable within the City of Laurel.

The City of Laurel Van Pool Service will be available to the Billings Downtown Area from Laurel for those that would like to consider carpooling to work during the week. The Van Pool bus will leave at approximately 7:30 a.m. and return at approximately 5:30 p.m. Cost to ride the Van Pool is $10 per week. There is room for 15 passengers in the Van Pool.

Laurel Municipal Airport is two miles north of town.


US Navy 040513-N-6436W-003 Avionics Technician 2nd Class Ryder Buttrey shows a third grade class from Graph Laurel Elementary School the features on a UH-3H SAR helicopter
3rd grade class during aviation week

Laurel is home to one of the largest 4 July parade and fireworks.

Laurel Aviation and Technology Week began in 1991. Students at every grade level are treated to hands on demonstrations and learn about careers. It has been held every three years except for the millennium year. In 2013 the event was cancelled due to federal budget restraints.


Laurel is home to the Yellowstone National Cemetery, a United States national cemetery located 1 mile north of Laurel on state highway 532 / Buffalo Trail Road.

Other attractions located near the Laurel area include Yellowstone National Park, the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, and Pompey's Pillar National Monument (where in 1806, William Clark carved his name).

Laurel is also home to the Laurel Golf Club, an 18-hole championship golf course.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1890 50
1900 368 636.0%
1910 806 119.0%
1920 2,338 190.1%
1930 2,558 9.4%
1940 2,754 7.7%
1950 3,663 33.0%
1960 4,601 25.6%
1970 4,454 −3.2%
1980 5,481 23.1%
1990 5,686 3.7%
2000 6,255 10.0%
2010 6,718 7.4%
2020 7,222 7.5%
U.S. Decennial Census

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 6,718 people, 2,790 households, and 1,765 families living in the city. The population density was 3,139.3 inhabitants per square mile (1,212.1/km2). There were 2,943 housing units at an average density of 1,375.2 per square mile (531.0/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 95.3% White, 0.4% African American, 1.5% Native American, 0.4% Asian, 0.4% from other races, and 2.1% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.0% of the population.

There were 2,790 households, of which 32.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.1% were married couples living together, 10.9% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.3% had a male householder with no wife present, and 36.7% were non-families. 31.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 14.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.38 and the average family size was 2.99.

The median age in the city was 37 years. 25.3% of residents were under the age of 18; 7.8% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 26.1% were from 25 to 44; 24.8% were from 45 to 64; and 15.9% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.0% male and 52.0% female.


Climate data for Laurel, Montana
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 68
Average high °F (°C) 33
Average low °F (°C) 15
Record low °F (°C) −30
Average precipitation inches (mm) 0.81


Cenex Harvest States oil refinery, Montana Rail Link, Laurel School District 7-70, and Wood's Power Grip comprise the major employers in Laurel. Farming and ranching provide other important mainstays.

The Billings Canal, used for irrigation, starts in Laurel.


The Laurel Public School District operates three elementary education schools (South, West, and Graff), one middle school, and one high school. Linda Filpula became superintendent in 2017 The school team is the Laurel Locomotives. School colors are purple and gold

Elementary schools

South Elementary 606 South 5th

West Elementary 502 Eighth Avenue

Graff Elementary 417 E Sixth Street

Middle school

Laurel Middle School 725 Washington Avenue

High school

Laurel High School 203 East Eighth Street


Laurel Public Library serves the town.

Notable people

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Laurel (Montana) para niños

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