The information plaque near the parking lot at the entrance to the park notes several historic events that occurred near this spot. In 1877,
Joseph Cochran had just established a farm near here. He, himself, was upriver doing some logging. In his absence, two trappers were camped at his place. The two men, Dills and Sumer, were sitting outdoors eating dinner on September 13 when six Nez Perce raiders rode up. Supposing they were friendly Crows, the two unsuspecting diners made no move to protect themselves and were shot. The raiders then burned the new buildings on the small farm. By taking a walk along the south-east end of tiny Josephine Lake*, you can see the area of the Cochran homestead.
The damage done by the Nez Perces on the Yellowstone is as follows: Stone & Rouse's stage station, hay and corrals burnt; Ed. Forrest's hay burned and stock stolen; at Josephine Tree two men killed (Clinton Dills and WMf Sumner), camp burned and fourteen head of horses stolen; near McAdow's mill the houses of Egestone and Ralston were burned, no damage done the mill or property of McAdow excepting the loss of three ponies.
Rocky Mountain Husbandman
October 4, 1877
*The City of Billings is currently contemplating the renaming of Riverfront Park to Josephine Park. According to a May 26, 2000 Billings Gazette article the name Josephine comes from a steamboat named Josephine. The article states that in June of 1875 the Josephine reached a point farther upstream than any other steamboat ascending from the mouth of the Yellowstone River.