Culbertson was named after Alexander Culbertson, an early fur trapper and mountain man. The railroad came in 1887, the post office in 1892. Until the post office was established, the town consisted of two log cabins. Culbertson is one of the oldest towns in eastern Montana, established while Montana was still a territory. Lewis and Clark explored the area in 1805, impressed with the rich, green grassland. Fur traders came in 1807, upsetting the Indians. The Indians continued to cause trouble until Alexander Culbertson began to deal with them. Major Culbertson was fair, and trading soon began. The cowboys at times got a little rowdy, riding their horses into the saloons, or yelling and shouting. Any damage they did, however, they returned to pay for. Today Culbertson is a pleasant farming town.
Visit the Culbertson Museum and Visitor Center for information on the area. It offers a great collection of artifacts and historical photographs.
Area attractions include Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge. This big lake, sitting in the pre-ice age channel of the Missouri River, is only about 25 miles north of Culbertson. More than 100,000 migrating waterfowl make their summer home at Medicine Lake. Great blue herons, white pelicans, sandhill cranes, grebes and ten different species of ducks share this prairie lake ecosystem. Self-guided hiking tours and an 18-mile driving tour around the refuge are options. One stop is the site of teepee rings of stone; these mark areas where Indian lodges were built. At the refuge headquarters, a 100-foot observation tower gives you a panoramic view of the area. Explore the sandhills before leaving Medicine Lake.
From Culbertson to Wolf Point is a stretch of 47 miles following U.S. Highway 2. In the latter half of the 1800s this was the Minnesota Wagon Road. A roadhouse from those days is still standing and is located at the meeting of Big Muddy Creek and the Missouri River. A toll bridge was built there around 1883. In 1867, Pony Express riders coming from Minneapolis rode this area paralleling today's U.S. Highway 2..
Culbertson is located in eastern Montana, only eight miles east of the North Dakota borderon U.S. Highway 2.