Location of Bearcreek, Montana
|• Total||0.12 sq mi (0.31 km2)|
|• Land||0.12 sq mi (0.31 km2)|
|• Water||0 sq mi (0 km2)|
|Elevation||4,557 ft (1,389 m)|
|• Estimate (2012)||79|
|• Density||658.3/sq mi (254.2/km2)|
|Time zone||Mountain (MST) (UTC-7)|
|• Summer (DST)||MDT (UTC-6)|
|GNIS feature ID||0779568|
Bearcreek is an incorporated town in Carbon County, Montana, United States. It is part of the Billings, Montana Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 79 at the 2010 census. Bearcreek uses the Mayor/Council form of government.
The town of Bearcreek was named for Bear Creek, which runs through the middle of town. The town is home to the Bear Creek Saloon which hosts fundraising pig races throughout the year. In addition, Bearcreek plays host every autumn to Montana Falconer Symposium, the state's largest gathering of falcon trainers and birds of prey enthusiasts.
When the legality of betting on pig races was challenged, a law was passed -- Montana Code Annotated 23-5-502(b) -- stating that "Only a licensee of premises that are located in an incorporated city or town with a population of less than 100 or located outside the boundaries of an incorporated city or town and that are appropriately licensed to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises under 23-5-119 may conduct a race between animals and conduct one or more sports pools on the race. The race may be conducted only if it is between pigs, gerbils, or hamsters and is conducted on the premises but outside of interior areas of the establishment where food and beverages are usually stored, prepared, or served." Bearcreek is the only incorporated city or town in Montana with a population of less than 100.
Bearcreek is located at (45.159849, -109.156322).
Bearcreek owes its existence to area coal mining that began in the 1890s to supply coal for the Northern Pacific Railway and the Anaconda Company. The Bearcreek Post Office was established on November 22, 1905 with Sarah Criger as the town's first postmaster. The town was platted and incorporated after the arrival of the Montana, Wyoming & Southern Railroad in 1906. A rail spur ran to the mines in and around Bearcreek from Belfry for extracting the coal. From Belfry, it could be taken north to Billings, Montana or south to Cody, Wyoming. It grew rapidly as American and foreign-born workers moved there, drawn by the promise of steady work. By 1917, the mines around Bearcreek were employing 1,200 men. At its peak, Bearcreek and the surrounding communities of Washoe, New Caledonia, Chickentown, Scotch Coulee, International, and Stringtown, had a population of about 3,000 people, most of whom worked in the coal mines. Today, those surrounding towns are almost completely gone, with only a few houses marking Washoe, currently the largest of them.
On February 27, 1943, the Smith Mine #3 exploded in the worst coal mining accident in the history of Montana, killing 74 men. In addition, the trend toward natural gas for heating and diesel locomotives caused the demand for coal to fall sharply, and Bearcreek’s production was in decline by the late 1940s.
After the 1953 closure of the railroad between Bridger and Bearcreek, the town’s population dwindled. Today, the rail spur has been removed, and no active mining is done in the area, but Bearcreek is again growing thanks to its proximity to Red Lodge.
As of the census of 2010, there were 79 people, 44 households, and 20 families residing in the town. The population density was 658.3 inhabitants per square mile (254.2/km2). There were 51 housing units at an average density of 425.0 per square mile (164.1/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 98.7% White and 1.3% from two or more races.
There were 44 households of which 15.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.9% were married couples living together, 2.3% had a female householder with no husband present, 2.3% had a male householder with no wife present, and 54.5% were non-families. 43.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 1.80 and the average family size was 2.50.
The median age in the town was 53.5 years. 13.9% of residents were under the age of 18; 1.3% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 17.8% were from 25 to 44; 39.2% were from 45 to 64; and 27.8% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the town was 49.4% male and 50.6% female.
As of the census of 2000, there were 83 people, 38 households, and 22 families residing in the town. The population density was 690.3 people per square mile (267.1/km2). There were 40 housing units at an average density of 332.7 per square mile (128.7/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 96.39% White, 1.20% African American, and 2.41% from two or more races.
There were 38 households out of which 31.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 34.2% were married couples living together, 18.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.5% were non-families. 34.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.18 and the average family size was 2.35.
In the town the population was spread out with 21.7% under the age of 18, 10.8% from 18 to 24, 33.7% from 25 to 44, 28.9% from 45 to 64, and 4.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 97.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.7 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $32,917, and the median income for a family was $32,500. Males had a median income of $20,250 versus $25,000 for females. The per capita income for the town was $13,572. There were 3.8% of families and 12.6% of the population living below the poverty line, including 20.0% of under eighteens and none of those over 64.
- "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-12-18.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-12-18.
- "Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2013-06-03.
- "Montana Code Annotated". State of Montana. Retrieved 2014-11-30.
- "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
- Baker, Don (1997). Ghost Towns of the Montana Prairie. Golden, Colorado: Fred Pruett Books. pp. 20–21. ISBN 0-87108-050-8.
- Montana Place Names Companion Website. Aarstad, Rich, Ellie Arguimbau, Ellen Baumler, Charlene Porsild, and Brian Shovers. Montana Place Names from Alzada to Zortman. Montana Historical Society Press.
- Aarstad, Rich, Ellie Arguimbau, Ellen Baumler, Charlene Porsild, and Brian Shovers. Montana Place Names from Alzada to Zortman. Montana Historical Society Press.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.