The first discovery of gold in Montana was in 1852 on what is now Gold Creek about twenty miles north of Deer Lodge. Pan and sluice mining of gold by James and Granville Stuart, in 1860, attracted other prospectors to a district that was soon to be established.
Deer Lodge is also the location of Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site, dedicated to the interpretation of the frontier cattle ranching era. This site was the home of one of the famous “Cattle Kings” of Montana – Conrad Kohrs, whose land holdings once stretched over a million acres of Montana, Wyoming, and Alberta, Canada. The Grant-Kohrs Ranch was built in 1862 by Johnny Grant, a fur-trader and trapper who encouraged his people to settle in Deer Lodge because of its pleasant climate and its ideal environment for raising cattle and horses.
Deer Lodge was named after a geological formation known as Warm Springs Mound which contained saline that created a natural salt lick for the local deer population. Deer and other wildlife would winter in the protected valley as the temperatures in the high country dropped – hence the name Deer Lodge.