A group of four ambassadors from Billings, Missouri, traveled 1,200 miles to Billings, Montana, last week to meet with Mayor Bill Cole to build a sister city relationship and make historical connections between the two.
According to the city of Billings, the group was sponsored by local businesses and families in the town. Mike McCoy, Jeff Yates, Chad Atnip, and Travis Cooke made their way here on their Harley Davidson motorcycles. Last Monday, they arrived in Billings, Montana, and met with Mayor Cole on September 13.
“We packed a lot of conversation into our three-hour visit, and I hope to make a trip of my own there one day to connect more dots between our two railroad towns,” Mayor Cole said. Kevin Kooistra, executive director for the Western Heritage Center and local historian, also joined in on the group’s visit, sharing some history of Billings, Montana’s past.
The Billings, Missouri group came with gifts to give Mayor Bill Cole, including a framed map of their route, railroad spikes that were hand driven into the train tracks in the town, and a letter from their mayor Mickey Brown. Cole gave them several gifts, too, with the Billings, Montana, logo on it. He also showed them the display of the USS Billings.
Despite having the same name, there are distinct differences between the two cities. Billings, Missouri, is ten years older than Billings, Montana. Another ambassador for the group, Jeff Yates, says the town was once the second largest livestock market in Missouri with plenty of opportunities. Billings, Missouri, is also a smaller town with nearly 1,000 residents. In the 2020 census, Billings, Montana, had a population of 117,000.
Another unique thing about Billings, Missouri, is that Fredrick Billings, a renowned historical figure whom the towns were named after, once came to the town and offered 1,000 dollars to build a church in exchange for naming rights. Above all, both towns share a rich history, and this was a great way to connect and learn about both.
“Billings, Missouri, is our older sister. We were born into the Billings Family, and we’re are proud to be apart of it,” Mayor Cole said. If you want to make a trip to Billings, Missouri, stop by the Twisted Tavern Coffee Company, owned by McCoy and Yates.