a Queen Anne style cottage in the Hi Bug District, Red Lodge, Montana
Photo: Courtesy of Debra Hronek
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The Hi Bug District, Red Lodge, Montana

When a slew of railroad and coal-mining jobs came to Red Lodge in the late 1800s, so did thousands of families from Italy, Poland, Germany, Switzerland, and Scotland. Located in the foothills of the Beartooth Mountains, Red Lodge simultaneously grew into a family town and a party town, with enough churches to keep the growing population humbled and enough saloons to draw the likes of Ms. Calamity Jane herself. As residents increased their fortunes, they started building mansions and well-appointed cottages just outside town in what’s known as the Hi Bug District, much of which is now a National Historic District. The origin of its name remains a mystery, but oral histories demonstrate it was a term school children used to describe the highfalutin neighborhood as long ago as 1900. These days, Hi Bug is a haven for full-time residents in this popular tourist town.

The Houses
Mansions and Victorian cottages still dominate Hi Bug, the latter being the most abundant. The mansions are Queen Anne– or Colonial Revival–style homes with wrap-around porches, turrets, verandas, and other nifty details, while the Victorian cottages feature stately columned front porches. An 1,800-square-foot cottage on 3.9 acres, with a private, spring-fed pond, was recently on the market for $265,000.

Why Buy Now?
Because of its outdoor activities, including kayaking, skiing, white-water rafting, hiking, and fly-fishing, and its proximity to Yellowstone National Park (about 60 miles away), Red Lodge is becoming popular among second-home buyers, who often turn into full-timers. Prices are still affordable, but you might want to act quickly before this place becomes the next Park City, Utah.

Among the best places for: Retirees, Sportsmen, Country Living, The West
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