Billings has a plethora of facts that make our city unique. However, the towns around the Magic City also have their own unique origin stories and some even have some wild facts that not everyone would know about. I love looking for cool facts about Montana towns, and I've got five cool facts about the towns surrounding Billings that may surprise you.

5. Lockwood experienced the largest tornado in Yellowstone County history.

Credit: Google Maps
Credit: Google Maps
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We don't see many tornadoes in this part of the world, so when it does happen, it's quite serious. None were more serious than the largest tornado Yellowstone County had ever seen, which touched down in Lockwood on June 16, 1965. Luckily, it didn't cause any physical harm, but it did cause upwards of $50,000 in damages.

4. The Ballantine Cheese Factory?

Credit: Google Maps
Credit: Google Maps
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I grew up in this town, so the thought of having a cheese factory in a town this small seems a little farfetched. However, at the height of the town's population, it existed. In a report of federal reclamation projects, the Huntley Project is mentioned, stating that sheep farmers would take milk to a cheese factory in Ballantine. I have no clue where it was located, but it sounds interesting.

3. At one point, Red Lodge was THE place to drink in Montana.

Credit: Google Maps
Credit: Google Maps
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With Red Lodge being a resort town, it kind of makes sense that it housed many different places to wet your whistle. Before liquor laws prevented bars from staying open past 2 a.m., you could find up to 21 bars in Red Lodge that were all open 24/7. What a time to be a college student on Spring Break.

2. Helena's Capitol Building used stone from a Columbus quarry.

Credit: Google Maps
Credit: Google Maps
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Columbus is known for its mining background and origin. Obviously, Helena noticed the importance of the sandstone quarry and decided to use sandstone directly from the quarry outside of Columbus for the facade of the Capitol Building because of the strength and quality of the stone. How awesome is that?

1. Laurel is NOT named for a person.

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Credit: Google Maps
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Yes, despite most of the cities in Montana, Laurel is not named for someone important who settled here, nor is it named for someone with the Northern Pacific Railroad. Laurel used to be called Carlton, which was the name of the station of the NPR. However, the name was changed to Laurel in 1883, after a local shrub. Yes, a bush. Not so impressive, is it?

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I think the craziest part of this list was the fact that there was a cheese factory in my hometown. What was your favorite fact from this list? Did we miss any? Let us know on social media.

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Change is usually a good thing, and we hope these additions, renovations and updates around Red Lodge are good for the community. After last year, I'm sure the town can use the support of visitor dollars.