Red Lodge was at the heart of a tourism boom in the 1950s when the federal Mission 66 program brought improvements to national parks. Visitors by the hundreds traveled over the stunning Beartooth Highway to Yellowstone Park. The Yodeler Motel, once one of several busy nearby hostelries during the “golden age” of motels, is Red Lodge’s most unique roadside inn. Its architectural layers illustrate its history first as an apartment building and later as Red Lodge’s first and only theme motel. Daniel O’Shea originally built the complex as an apartment building for working-class families in 1909. Residents were primarily European immigrants who worked in the Rocky Fork Coal Company’s nearby East Bench Mine. After the closure of the mines in the 1920s, many of its tenants stayed in Red Lodge to help build the Beartooth Highway during the Great Depression. For a short time beginning in the 1940s, a grocery store occupied the north end of the building. In 1961, local building contractor Al Sloulin purchased the property and transformed the simple brick apartments into a Bavarian-themed motel. Its guest rooms, large chalet entrance, decorative scrolled woodwork, historic signage, and southern German motifs continue to appeal to tourists and skiers who come to Red Lodge to enjoy the area’s recreational and scenic opportunities. The Yodeler Motel and its unique architecture symbolize Red Lodge’s history, first as a hard-working mining community and melting pot of different ethnic groups, and, more recently, as a popular destination for visitors from around the world.
The Montana National Register Sign Program
601 Broadway, Red Lodge, Montana