Cities & Towns
Cascade County Directory and Gazeteer 1896-1897
Ridgly and Greely Compilers and Publishers
In 1882, the present site of Great Falls, the Cataract City, was simply a stretch of prairie, upon which grazed hundreds of buffalo and antelope. Along the banks of the Missouri, now alive with the hum of industry, Indians and adventurous hunters made their camps. Save the ceaseless plunge of the old Missouri's waters over its' rapids and falls, there was nothing to indicate the up building of a great manufacturing and commercial center.
In that year, 1882, a visit was made to this place by Paris Gibson, who perceived the immense possibilities of the situation. A number of other gentlemen were interested, and in 1884 the original town site of Great Falls was platted. In 1887 the town had grown to a population of 500, and in that year the Great Northern reached the town and gave it an impetus which sent it straight on toward the proportions of a city.
Its' growth from that time has been steady, substantial and progressive. Capital was attracted by the magnificent possibilities of profitable investment offered, and labor followed closely in its' wake.
Business blocks, equal to any in older and larger cities, were erected and comfortable and commodious homes followed as the residence portion was built up. Manufacturing industries of various kinds were located, and proved lucrative investments. The great water power of the Black Eagle Falls attracted the Boston & Montana Smelting Company, and they moved their plant here from Butte. Other industrial enterprises followed the example, and the near future will see the banks of the Missouri at Great Falls the seat of an industrial community as busy as are those on the banks of the Merrimac and its' tributaries.
While the recent panic brought with it doubt and distrust, and called a halt to the growth and expansion of the city, it was a pause only, and already the Cataract City is regaining its' old-time gait, which will eventually make it the metropolis of the Northwest.
Outside of the indomitable energy of its' citizens, the secret of Great Falls' prosperity and the guarantee of its future greatness is found in the great water power furnished by the Missouri at this point. The importance of this factor is fully brought out in a recent article by M.S. Parker, C.E., from which the following extracts are taken:
"Among the large water powers of this country, the falls of the Missouri river in Cascade County, Montana, unquestionably rank second only to the falls of Niagara. The full development of this great power would, naturally, under other conditions, be slower of development than that of Niagara.
"The falls of the Missouri proper are a series of cascades and rapids extending over a distance of 16 miles, from the crossing of the river by the Great Northern railway bridge at the head to the mouth of Belt Creek. The principle cascades, in the order in which they occur, are called Black Eagle, Rainbow, Crooked and the Great falls, names given to them by the early explorers, Lewis and Clarke. Between these falls, and below the last named, are series of smaller cascades and rapids capable of development into what would be considered large powers in section of this country less favored by nature with respect to water power.
With a population of 11,269, Great Falls is in every respect a first-class, up-to-date, progressive city, with all the conveniences which that implies; in fact, her equipment in that respect puts many an older and larger rival to blush. Situated in the center of a great mining, agricultural and grazing country, she has a magnificent future before her.
DIRECTORY AND GAZETTEER of Cascade County Excluding Great Falls
Armington is situated in the Belt valley, 23 miles east of Great Falls, on the Neihart Branch of the Montana Central and the Great Falls & Lewistown Mail and Stage Line. It is the receiving and shipping point for merchandise of wool, cattle, sheep and horses for Geyser, Stanford, Utica, Philbrook, Lewistown, Gilt Edge and the Judith Basin Country. The resources are coal, produce of all kinds, cattle, hogs, sheep and horses.
This busy mining camp is situated on the Neihart branch of the Montana Central railroad, about 26 miles from Great Falls. It is the seat of extensive coal mining operations and has had a marvelous growth since 1894. Before that time, in 1877, J.K. Castner had prospected successfully for coal and he and Michael Worley began mining operations in that year, shipping the product to Fort Benton. In 1889, work was stopped on the mine on account of the high freight rates charged by the railroad company who controlled the mines at Sand Coulee. In 1893, the property passed into the hands of the Anaconda Mining company.
Belt was first called Pittsburg in honor of Mr. Castner's Pennsylvania home, but this was afterward changed to the present name. Belt is a live hustling town and has a prosperous future in store, and is well supplied with the conveniences of civilization. There are several churches, a bank, large stores and a weekly paper.
Cascade is situated on the north bank of the Missouri river on the Great Northern R.R., opposite the beautiful Chestnut valley noted for its' beautiful homes and its' fine ranches, which are stocked with fine thoroughbred horses and cattle. Sheep raising is one of the leading industries in this immediate vicinity. Within a radius of 35 miles, there are about 250,000 sheep, 75,000 head of cattle and 50,000 head of horses. The town of Cascade proper has about 100 inhabitants, but two years ago there were more than 200 persons registered at this point. The school facilities are of the best and are under the able supervision of Prof. Geo. H. Mullery. There are two churches, two blacksmith shops, two hotels and one livery stable.
Mr. Thomas Graham was the founder of the town which has grown to be one of the most thriving in Cascade county. At present a ditch is being constructed in the Chestnut valley which will be capable of carrying 25,000 inches of water and which will, when completed, make the Chestnut valley the garden spot of Montana. Streams adjacent to Cascade are stocked with mountain trout in great numbers. Close to Cascade there are large "sloughs" where geese and ducks gather in great numbers in the fall of the year, making a perfect paradise for the hunter.
Mr. Robt. Chestnut, who settled more than 30 years ago in the valley which bears his name, is still an honored resident.
Cora is situated about 28 miles east of Great Falls, on the Montana stage line , and is the center of a prosperous community of stock growers. Sheep raising takes the lead, and there are 50,000 head of sheep within a radius of 10 miles from Cora.
Evans is a country village, consisting of not more than half a dozen houses, and a post office, about 28 miles south of Great Falls. It is situated at the head of main Sand Coulee, and is usually called Upper Sand Coulee. It was settled about the year 1879 by Messrs. Jamison, Johnson, Fowler and Tague, the two latter gentlemen having come from the Upper Missouri valley. Evans is in Precinct No. 13 and School District No. 14. There are about 150 voters in the precinct, and about 40 school children in the district, with three schools, No. 1, 2, and 3. Miss Maud Warner is teacher in the primary department; Miss Olive Brown in the intermediate, and Miss Steff in the fifth and sixth grades. The school directors are: James Collard, chairman; Mrs. Wm. Warner and Geo. Gillet. Argiculture is the main industry of Evans, it being known throughout that part of Cascade county as the "Garden of Montana". Sand Coulee creek furnishes a bountiful supply of splendid water for all purposes, and crops have never been known to fail.
William Warner is the postmaster.
Geyser is situated about 47 miles from Great Falls, and is 23 miles from Armington, the shipping point on the Neihart branch of the Montana Central. There is considerable farming carried on in the vicinity, but stock-raising is the principle industry. Mail arrives on the stage daily, and there is telephone connection with the principal places in the state.
Hardy is a station on the Montana Central, 47 miles from Great Falls. Grazing and agri-culture are the leading occupations. Hardy is also the distributing point for the upper Chestnut valley.
Hepler is a post office six miles above Fort Shaw and is a stage connection with Sun River. The surrounding country is devoted to stock raising and agriculture.
Kibbey is a post office on Otter creek, about 43 miles southwest of Great Falls and 9 Northeast of Monarch. It is the center of a very fine country, which is being rapidly developed. The Montana Stucco Works are located here, and the gypsum mines are of a very high grade.
Logging Creek is located on the Niehart branch of the Montana Central, at the mouth of Logging creek and is noted for the fine quality of lime rock for making lime and fluxing and the excellent fir timber in the immediate vicinity, which is driven down Logging Creek. The place is also noted for trout fishing, the trout being very plentiful in both Logging and Belt Creeks. Gold placer mines extend for 10 miles up Logging creek. The quartz mines of the carbonate district are very rich in silver and gold and claim the largest lead of copper in the state.
MID - CANYON
Mid-Canyon is a farm post office on the Montana Central about 45 miles southwest of Great Falls, in the center of a fine farming and small fruit country. Mr. James Wantz, one of the first settlers, has been particularly successful in the introduction and culture of the small fruits, as well as tomatoes and melons, marketing seven tons of tomatoes from 4,000 plants.
Milligan is the center of a very fine stock-raising country, about 47 miles south of Great Falls. The town is situated on Trout creek, and receives mail semi-weekly.
Monarch is a beautiful canyon town on the banks of Belt creek, at the junction of the Barker and Neihart branches of the Montana Central railway, surrounded by the rich agricultural districts of Kibbey, Belt, Park, and the Michigan settlements, which are renowned for fertility of soil and the abundance of rich pasturage for stock-raising purposes. This is the distributing point for supplies of hay, grain and all the cereals for the mining camps of Sand Coulee, Belt, Armington, Neihart and Barker, from, the outlying agricultural districts, this being their nearest shipping point. The coal camps of Sand Coulee, Belt and Armington have for years past received all their mining timber from this point, and the demand for poles and cordwood for the Great Falls smelters has been amply supplied from this place.
The railroad ships a large amount of cordwood each year for its' own use from Monarch, making it a noted timber center. Monarch is also noted for being a natural summer resort, furnishing the finest fishing in Montana. Belt Creek is well supplied with trout and whitefish, and the streams of Dry Fork, Tillinghast, Pilgrim, and Tenderfoot are literally full of trout and greyling. These streams being quite near Monarch, make it one of the pleasantest resorts of Montana, and it is much patronized by tourists. The surrounding mountains for a distance of 20 miles abound with all the kinds of game for which Montana is justly noted. The altitude is 4.553 feet sea level. The population is about 100.
Riceville is a signal station on the Neihart branch of the Montana Central, 38 miles from Great Falls. An important industry is the preparation of flux for the smelters.
Sand Coulee is an unincorporated mining camp of 2000 inhabitants, 12 miles southeast of Great Falls, and is the terminus of the Sand Coulee branch of the Great Northern Railroad company, the Great Northern Express company and the Western Union Telegraph company. It was first settled in 1888 as a mining camp, but Eugene Willis, a colored man located the first coal claim in 1883. Sand Coulee has three churches - Methodist Episcopal, Slavonian Roman Catholic and Finnish Lutheran; three libraries - English, Scandinavian and Finnish; the English library contains 1,200 volumes and is supported by the employees of the coal company, formed into an association; a good public school with four teachers; a bank, three hotels, one restaurant, one general store; one furnishing house; a brickyard one mile north of town, and several small coal mines for local and country trade; two brass bands, one orchestra; several secret societies; one labor organization, known as the Western Federation of Miners (Inc.); two livery stables; one laundry; and an opera house with a seating capacity of 300, and also a gymnasium in connection. Sand Coulee is represented by one newspaper, the Belt Valley Times, printed at Belt, Montana, every Thursday. B. Jeremiah is correspondent for the Times. T.A. Gillespie is postmaster.
St. Peter's is a post office and mission in the northwestern part of the county, 35 miles from Great Falls, and has stage connections from Cascade. The surrounding country is Devoted to agriculture and grazing. Extensive Indian schools are carried on by the Jesuit Fathers and Ursuline Nums.
Sunnyside is situated 13 miles west of Great Fall, with daily stage connections. Several large ranches are in the immediate vicinity.
Sun River is situated 20 miles west of Great Falls and is the center of some of the best farming land in Northern Montana. The land is under high cultivation and irrigation is extensively used. Mining is also carried on. There is a daily stage from Great Falls.
Truly is situated 13 miles southwest of Great Falls, and is the center of an agricultural community. Cattle and sheep raising are extensively carried on. There are also excellent coal deposits in the vicinity.