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Emigrant is situated very close to the site of defunct Yellowstone City, which was established in 1863 but eventually abandoned and replaced by Chico, sometimes called “Old Chico” or “Chico City,” which is situated a few miles South at the mouth of Emigrant Gulch.

The town of Emigrant as it stands today originated as a railroad stop for much of the mining and agricultural activities taking place in the area. It is a much newer community than nearby Chico but has overshadowed Chico due to strategic location. Although the railroad pulled out as transporting freight by truck became standard, Emigrant did not suffer the decline other rural towns in the region had due to its ability to tap into regional tourism. Much of the current structures in Emigrant are newer and well maintained with an “old western” architectural theme.

In August 1864, three emigrants, who came to Montana on the Bozeman Trail, arrived and found men already hard at work mining the creek. The new arrivals decided to try their luck farther up the rugged gulch, finding pay dirt high up the side of Emigrant Peak. The strike caused a stampede that drew several hundred miners and a few women to this remote area deep in Crow Indian country. The miners worked the gravel with moderate success for several weeks before cold weather drove them down to Yellowstone City, near the mouth of Emigrant Gulch.