The old business district was located near the river, along the Mullan Road (now Front Street), where C. P. Higgins and Frank Worden built a sawmill, flour mill, and store along the banks of the Clark Fork. Most of these buildings burned in 1884, and when the city rebuilt, the influence of the incoming Northern Pacific Railway pulled the downtown northward from the Clark Fork along Higgins Avenue.
Many of these buildings remain. The Missoula Mercantile Building (now Macy’s), at the corner of Front and Higgins, was built between 1882 and 1891. The Merc, as it was known, was established in 1866 and was the city’s primary mercantile establishment for more than a century. Note the cast-iron facade along Higgins Avenue.
North on Higgins is the Higgins Block (1889), containing well-preserved late-19th-century commercial architecture. On the corner, beneath a prominent cupola, is a gingerbread bank in the Queen Anne style. Farther along the same block are other old stores, now housing trendy businesses. One vintage interior worth visiting, Butterfly Herbs, has an espresso bar in the back.
The County Courthouse (200 W. Broadway) was constructed in 1910. This large, three-story edifice is noteworthy for its murals. These scenes from Montana history were painted by Edgar Paxson, who was called Cot-lo-see (He Who Sees Everything) by admiring Indians.
Missoula’s  two train stations are imposing and handsome. The Northern Pacific Depot was built in 1889 at the north end of Higgins Avenue.
Missoula’s bustling Farmer’s Market takes place in the park in front of the depot on Saturday mornings and Tuesday evenings in summer—the market is a great spot for people-watching and loading up on coffee, baked goods, and the local bounty of fruit and vegetables.
The Spanish-style Milwaukee Road Depot was built in 1910 under the Higgins Avenue Bridge on the south side of the Clark Fork. Neither is in operation as a rail depot.