Welcome to the Billings County Museum!
Daily: 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Fall/Winter/Spring Season - call or e-mail to make an appointment.
Senior Citizens $2.00
Under 12 FREE
Group Rates Available
Created by the legislature of Dakota Territory on February 10, 1879, Billings County was named for Frederick Billings, president of the Northern Pacific Railroad Company and holder of extensive land interests in Burleugh and other western Dakota Territory counties.
The town of Medora was founded in 1883 by a visionary French nobleman, the Marquis de Mores (1858 - 1896), and named for his wife, New York heiress Medora Von Hoffman. Medora is located on the Little Missouri River and the main line of the Northern Pacific Railroad.
On October 25, 1883, Governor Nehemiah G. Ordway designated a board of commisioners for the purpose of organizing the county. Medora was chosen as the county seat. Boundaries of Billings County changed frequently during the next 32 years (Echoing Trails II, pages 756 - 758).
Medora was the headquarters for Marquis de Mores' plan to slaughter range-fed cattle and ship the meat by rail to Eastern states.
The Billings County Courthouse symbolizes the orderly administration of justice in the county which is one of the least populated in North Dakota.
The structure is also a physical link with the first years of settlement in the region, its core formed from a building believed to date from the 1880s. The Museum was originally a dwelling with two apartments and a common storage area between them. After becoming the courthouse, the original central unit was enlarged and the south wing was used as a jail. The jail area is the oldest (1880's) and the Register of Deeds vault is the most recent (1950's).
In 1913, the second floor containing the courtroom was added. In 1953, the Register of Deeds vault was added to the north side of the building. The building served as the county courthouse until 1983, when a new courthouse was built.
The Billings County Historical Society converted the original courthouse into the present museum in 1986. The building has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places by the Department of the Interior. There are five other places in Medora on the National Register (Chateau, Packing Plant Site, Theodore Roosevelt's Cabin, St. Mary's Church and the Von Hoffman House).