Cascade County, Montana 1921

The second county in the State of Montana from the standpoint of size and population, Cascade County's land area of 3,411 square miles lies between a rich mining and stock raising district and the great agricultural basin of North Central Montana, where the plains meet the mountains. Not only in these directions does the county hold a prominent place, but as well in the matter of variety and prodigality of its resources, for agriculture, stock raising and mining are extensively followed within the county's confines and practically every ramification of these three important industries are to be found. The county also ranks first of all counties in Montana in the number of coal mines operated.

River Valleys and Streams

The rich agricultural district of Cascade County is found in the northern part, where the loamy soil, lying over a good clay subsoil makes possible good dryland yields in normal years. Much of the farm land is susceptible of irrigation, being located below the watershed of mountains on two sides, and specially fertile are the valleys along the Missouri River, which runs diagonally through the county, with a sudden descent over a series of falls and rapids, from the mountains to the southwest, and with a more gradual flow toward the northeastern boundary, below the Great Falls. The Sun River has its conflux with the Missouri at the city of Great Falls; the Smith and Dearborn rivers traverse the county and flow into the Missouri; and Belt Creek, a stream which heads in the Little Belt Mountains and flows north 100 miles, empties into the Missouri near Great Falls. While hundreds of thousands of acres in this district have never been irrigated and have nevertheless produced large crops, there are at present 75,000 acres of irrigated land and projects are now pending for an additional irrigation of 120,000 acres, a matter which is covered in another chapter in this work.

Crops and Lands

The chief crops of the county are oats, wheat, flax, barley, rye and potatoes, and this section of the state has taken hundreds of prizes for the best and hardiest grains, biggest and best crops of hay and most profitable returns from truck gardens. The soil, composed of nitrogen, phosphorus, lime and potash, has advantageous elements, as shown in the abundance of grass to be found on uncultivated fields, and the fact that there are farms in this district which have been under continuous cultivation for forty years without fertilization and are still yielding bumper crops. Cascade County is forging to the front as a producer of alfalfa, and owing to its adaptability this forage crop lends itself admirably to diversified farming, being used for horses, cattle, hogs, sheep and poultry, and having the additional advantage of being a soil builder. Averages show that it is possible in Cascade County to raise from three to five tons of alfalfa to the acre on irrigated land and from one to three tons by dry farming. Corn is raised in Cascade County for grain in some instances, but for the most part is cultivated for silage, and for this latter purpose many farmers raise sunflowers in large quantities. Practically every farm has its own truck garden, and this has proven a successful undertaking. While fruit is not raised in extensive commercial quantities, excellent fruit and berries are raised in the valleys, particularly strawberries and currants, for home consumption and there are many small orchards in the county which are doing well.

Of recent years the farmers have shown a marked co-operative spirit and have worked together in an endeavor to raise the best possible crops and to dispose of them at advantageous prices, with the result that elevators, cooperative stores and growers' associations of various kinds are to be found all through this district.

According to the 1920 assessment, Cascade County had 524,000 acres of grain land and 937,000 acres of grazing land, total of 1461,000 acres subject to the assessed value of $115,909,716. Government land in the county includes 26,665 un-surveyed and 30,916 surveyed acres, and there are 100,-240 acres of state land and 421,242 acres in national forests. Non-irrigated and grazing land is valued at from $15 to $30 an acre and improved land at from $20 to $50 an acre, while unimproved irrigated land is selling at from $35 to $50 an acre and improved irrigated farms range in value from $50 to $150 an acre.

Livestock and Dairy Interests

Toward the mountains, where there is to be found the more open range country of Cascade County, the livestock industry flourishes and scores of prosperous stockmen are to be found. The dairy cow, each day considered of more importance to the modern farm, thrives in Cascade County. Dairying, in fact, has long passed the experimental stage and is rapidly becoming one of the state's leading industries. The silo, modern landmark of agricultural prosperity, can be found in ever-increasing numbers, and every season finds an abundance of good forage crops stored for the use of the dairy cow, alfalfa, corn and cereals being among the leading crops used for ensilage. Many good dairies are located around the City of Great Falls, and one of these, electrically operated in every particular, is accounted one of the most modern in the world. There are six prosperous creameries and two cheese factories located in the county, two at Great Falls, and one each at Eden, Cascade, Belt, and Red Butte. Purebred cattle raising is greatly stabilizing the cattle industry of the county, and the recent completion of a $30,000 livestock pavilion and sales arena at Great Falls has been an incentive to stock growers of this region.

Although drought years have reduced the number of livestock in the county, in 1920 there were 27,367 head of cattle, 61,956 head of sheep and 13,088 head of horses in Cascade County, proximity to the grazing lands of the national forest making this an excellent cattle raising country. The breed of livestock is rapidly reaching a higher standard and the old range steer is being replaced by the better-bred and more carefully handled animal which is now commanding a top-notch price in the stock markets. Fine pure-bred herds are to be found in Cascade County and while the farmer is forcing the large stockman to seek his range in the national forests and on the hills rather than running his stock over the fertile prairies, this does not seem to have handicapped the beef-raising industry to any considerable extent. The large increase in the amount of hay raised helps to account for the fact that although the so-called "open range" may be considered a thing of the past the livestock industry maintains its high standard, and Cascade County continues to contribute its full share to the average of 200,000 head of beef cattle shipped each year to the packing plants of the big cities.

Mining of Coal and Silver

Under the head of mining in Cascade County are to be mentioned lead, copper, silver, gold, zinc, coal and large gypsum deposits. Of all the counties of Montana, Cascade ranks first in the number of coal mines operated. The larger producing companies are located in the Belt and Sand Coulee fields, a short distance from Great Falls, making fuel readily available to industries in the city. Throughout the county, coal outcroppings provide fuel for farming purposes. The county is also one of the large producers of silver, and in the Neihart district there are rich silver mines which are being developed on a large scale, the most productive being the Ripple group, Florence, Moulton, Broadwater, Snow Drift, Big Seven and Queen of the Hills. The opening of three oil fields, two to the north and one to the east, has recently proven a matter of the greatest interest to the people of Great Falls, the fields being close in on the territory directly tributary to that city.

Great Falls Reduction Works

The Great Falls reduction department of the Anaconda Copper Mining Company is one if the important concomitants of the mining industry of the county, and a brief history of this enterprise may not be in apropos. Ground was broken early in 1891 by the Boston & Montana Consolidated Copper & Silver Mining Company for a copper reduction works on the north bank of the Missouri River, across the river from the east end of the city of Great Falls, where are located Black Eagle Falls, the purpose of the works being to treat ore from the company's mines at Butte yielding copper and relatively small amounts of silver and gold. About a year later a concentrator was in condition to begin operations, and this was followed by roasting furnaces and reverberator smelting furnaces, Bessemer converters and a blast furnace plant for the retreatment of converter slag, the last-named installed in 1893. An electrolytic copper refinery and furnace refinery were built in 1892, at which time it was made possible to carry the treatment from ore to finished commercial shapes of refined copper. During the year 1910 the properties of the Boston & Montana Consolidated Copper & Silver Mining Company were taken over by the Anaconda Copper Mining Company, and since then the works at Great Falls have been known first as the Boston & Montana Reduction Department and more recently as the Great Falls Reduction Department of the Anaconda Copper Mining Company. In 1916 a plant was completed for the production of electrolytic zinc from ore mined at Butte and concentrated at Anaconda. Also, in 1918, a ferro-manganese plant was completed for the production of ferro-manganese from Butte ore, and in the same year a mill was finished for the manufacture of copper rods, wire and cable, which are made from the refined copper produced by the furnace refinery. The completion of this mill brings the copper industry at Great Falls to the point of a product ready for the consumer.

During a few years prior to 1918 the work of copper concentrating and smelting, for which the original works were built, was gradually reduced, until, in 1918, this work was discontinued entirely, so that now the operation is changed from copper concentrating and smelting to that of copper refining, copper rod, wire and cable manufacture, electrolytic zinc production and ferro-manganese production. The copper smelting equipment remains in place and may be used when there is occasion to do so. The concern referred to has 3,000 men in this institution, and an annual payroll of $3,300,000 in Cascade County, that is, during normal times.

Power Development at Great Falls

Apart from agriculture, stock raising and mining, the industries or manufacturing, milling, packing and wholesaling, augmented by large power development on the falls of the Missouri have made Great Falls and Cascade County a leading commercial, financial, industrial, jobbing, manufacturing and distributing center. Water power made available through a drop of 365 feet in the Missouri River in a series of four falls near the city which derives its name therefrom has been developed to the extent of 165, 000 horse-power, with 200,000 additional horsepower in reserve. Current produced at Great Falls plants is used in operating a transcontinental railroad across the state, as well as mines and numerous industrial plants throughout Montana. Among the larger industries which have taken advantage of the cheap power and commercial opportunities are two flour mills with a daily capacity of 1,500 barrels; the largest packing plant between Minneapolis and Spokane, a tire factory and numerous smaller industries. In the matter of the lumber industry, Cascade has some commercial timber, heavy wooded areas being found in the Little Belt Mountains, in the southern part of the county, with timber in adjoining mountain ranges, all within the Jefferson National forest, and along the principal streets of the county.

In spite of the great development work that has already been carried through to a successful conclusion, there are numerous undeveloped resources in Cascade County, chief among them being in the rich area tributary to the city of Great Falls. An important industry which should be successful is the woolen manufacturing business, for the wool here is of high grade. There is likewise an opportunity for flax fibre mills, with related manufactures, and Montana grain is of such quality that cracker and oatmeal factories should prosper. Other industries capable of development have to do with the manufacture of agricultural implements, twine, stock food, barbed wire, clothing and other articles required by the farmers residing on the great agricultural domain of 5,000,000 acres tributary to the city of Great Falls.

Interesting Points and Transportation

The derivation of the name of Cascade County should not be hard to understand, especially by those who have seen the wonderful cascades of the Missouri River in the vicinity of Great Falls, the name having suggested itself long before the creation of the county, September 12, 1887. The county is a center of tourist travel, being located within a few hours' drive of any one of four mountain ranges, each of a different type of scenery. A particularly interesting setting for the many tourist attractions is given by the fact that the historic Lewis and Clark expedition followed up the Missouri River past the present site of Great Falls, discovering Giant Springs, one of the largest fresh water springs in the world, the cold water sulphur springs near Big Falls, and other points of interest in and about Great Falls vicinity. Visitors from other localities have no trouble in reaching this region, as three transcontinental railroads operate through Great Falls and Cascade County, the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy, the Great Northern and the Chicago. Milwaukee & St. Paul. These railroads have nine branches invading the rich mining and agricultural regions in every direction, making Great Falls the hub of a wheel from which radiate a number of spokes, and when the projected "Missouri cut-off" is completed there may be through service by way of Great Falls. The Soo railway has established a permanent survey through this city, passing through Valier and the Blackfeet Indian reservation to Canada. Great Falls is situated on the Yellowstone-Glacier-Beeline Highway, the short route between the Glacier National and Yellowstone parks, and this highway forms a part of the National Park-to-Park Highway. The city is likewise on the Custer Battlefield Highway and the Buffalo Trail, and large sums of money are being expended in the county in permanent road construction in building a system of trunk roads.

Schools of the County

In the matter of education, Cascade County is a leader, as befits one of the largest and wealthiest counties of the state, and has 143 schools, six high schools, one junior high school, three parochial schools, an Ursuline academy, a commercial college and a girls' school. The schools in the county are operated under the unit system, with a uniform nine months school term for every child in the county, and with an attractive salary scale for the instructors.

Great Falls Historically

Considered Practically in the geographical center of the state, is located the city of Great Falls, the county seat of Cascade County, and, because of its position, as well as its natural resources for development and transportation, one of the most important centers of trade and distribution in Montana. There are those who claim that the falls of the Missouri River in this locality were first seen by the Chevalier Verendrye, a French explorer, in 1743, but careful investigations have proven that the most northwesterly point reached by the intrepid Frenchman was in Western South Dakota. Therefore it may be assumed that the first to scan the wonderful waters of this region were the members of the Lewis and Clark expedition, who reached this point in June, 1805. In 1846, Capt. John Mullan, of the United States Army, established the trading post of the American Fur Company at a point on the upper Missouri which he named Fort Benton in honor of Senator Benton of Missouri, and nine years later, in 1855, in company with Gen. Isaac I. Stevens, also of the United States Army, investigated this region by order of the Government, to whom they made an intelligent and comprehensive report. The army officers were followed in about 1862 by an engineer, Milner Roberts, and his son, Thomas P. Roberts, who named the two falls, known at this time as Rainbow and Black Eagle, and who also gave the name of The Long Pool to the deep quiet water that extends ten or fifteen miles above the head of the rapids, where the present Great Northern Railway bridge now spans the river, and in which the group of islands, known as the White Bear Islands, is situated.

The Coming of Paris Gibson

It was in May, 1882, about ten years after the visit of Milner Roberts, that there came to this locality the Hon. Paris Gibson, who became the founder of Great Falls and later was sent to the United States Senate. In an article in a special edition of the Great Falls Leader, published in 19 13, from which many of the attendant facts and figures regarding Great Falls have been secured, Senator Gibson said, in part: "When I first saw the beautiful tract of land at the head of the upper, or Black Eagle, falls, I at once decided to found a city there. The advantages for establishing a great industrial and commercial center at that point appealed to me so forcibly that I decided at once to drop the business in which I was engaged and devote all my time and such energy as I possessed to laying the foundation for what I believed would, with the development of the Northwest, become a great city. Having succeeded in enlisting the powerful aid of James J. Hill in this work, a thriving town soon sprang up, which in a comparatively short time contained a population of 4,000. I will not dwell upon the early history of Great Falls and the period of comparative stagnation that prevailed in this young city from 1892 to 1908, when John D. Ryan, head of the Amalgamated Copper Company, and his associates acquired control of the affairs of the Great Falls Water Power Company and Townsite Company. * * * It would be difficult to find another spot in all the great Northwestern empire as advantageously situated as Great Falls for the centralization of commerce and industry, and, at the same time, for the creation of a beautiful residential city. Great Falls was laid out at the head of the falls with ample reservations for diversified activities, both large and small, which can in no way interfere with its residence districts, which are so situated as to command an impressive landscape view."

Development of Power in the Great Falls Area

Since the arrival of Captain Lewis and his band of devoted followers, and, indeed, since the arrival of Senator Gibson, numerous changes have taken place. One of the greatest of these, naturally, is that which has to do with the development and transmission of high voltage current over 'the state, derived from the falls. The power developed at Great Falls, in its home city is utilized in street and avenue lighting, electric railways, flour milling, water supply, ore smelting, coal mining and in a hundred other ways. At Butte, Great Falls power is daily hoisting vast quantities of copper ore and pumping water from the mines, furnishing the power for Butte city water and assisting in driving its street railway and lighting its streets. It also drives a portion of the smelter at Anaconda; operates the flour mill at Cascade, lights the town; furnishes light and power to Fort Benton, Havre, Belt, Stanford, Hobson, Moccasin and Lewistown, as well as numerous other communities; and operates the Butte, Anaconda & Pacific Railway between Butte and Anaconda. It is now known as one of the greatest water power sites in the United States, and fully developed will yield an estimated 350,000 horse power.

Within eight miles of the city of Great Falls the Missouri drops a total distance of 365 feet; 96 feet at the Great Falls, 47 at Rainbow, 41 at Black Eagle Falls, 29 feet at the Crooked Falls, 12 feet at Colter's Falls and a fall of 140 feet in the canyon below the Great Falls. The development of these power sites has been gradual. The dam for the Black Eagle power plant was completed in 1891 and developed 14,000 horse power. This plant furnishes power for the operation of the smelter, the lighting of the city of Great Falls and the operation of its street railway system. Since that time as the market for the power has developed, two new and larger plants have come into being, one at Rainbow and the other at Great Falls.

The installation of the Rainbow plant occurred in 1910 and it was made necessary by the need for electrical power to make more economical the operation of the extensive mines at Butte and the large reduction works at Anaconda. This plant was enlarged in 191 7 and now produces 50,000 horse power, a great part of this current being sent to Butte over a steel tower transmission line. That power not used at Anaconda and Butte is distributed to nearby cities and towns by means of smaller transmission lines. When the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad conceived the idea of electrifying its road from Harlowton, Montana, to Avery, Idaho, it turned to Great Falls for aid in supplying the vast amount of electrical energy necessary for this giant undertaking. The response of the Montana Power Company was the immediate commencement, in 1913, of the construction of the Great Falls plant, which was completed in 1915 after an expenditure of $5,000,000. When completed, this plant produced 90,000 horsepower, nearly twice the combined horsepower of the two plants already built. The huge dam of this engineering enterprise is 1,340 feet in length and has a total height of 155 feet. Its construction required 3,000 tons of steel, 1,000,000 sacks of cement, 1,200,000 bricks, 210,000 cubic yards of concrete, and 3,000,000 board feet of lumber, a total of 11,000 cars of material. A private railway was constructed to convey this enormous amount of material requirements to the site of the dam, and an army of workmen was employed during the two-year period required for its construction. Thus it is that the water power of Great Falls has been developed until the energy produced is driving the wheels of industry in all parts of Central and Northern Montana. It is a peculiar and interesting fact that the people of this region have never been treated to the spectacle of a freeze in the Missouri River close enough to the dam sites to interfere with the amount of power generated there. The mighty Niagara Falls may cease its flow because of winter's cold, but such a happening at Great Falls would be unheard of because the river at this point is heated to prevent the occurrence. The heat comes from the Giant Spring, which flows into the river about a mile above the Rainbow dam, this being considered the largest fresh water spring in the world, with an estimated capacity of 36,300 cubic feet a minute. The fact that its temperature is constantly at 52 degrees Fahrenheit, winter or summer, has the effect of preventing the formation of anchor or frazil ice and relieves the electrical engineers from worry of this nature.

Naturally the development of this great water power has proven a boon not only to Great Falls but to all the smaller communities of this region as well, for in addition to being utilized for Great Falls' many industries and municipal needs, the mines at Butte, the smelter at Anaconda and the mighty electric engines of the Milwaukee Railroad, it supplies power and light to many smaller cities, and twenty towns within a radius of 175 miles are benefited by the current generated. In addition it is a great factor in conserving the district's supply of coal, and the thousands of tons saved daily by the use of electrical power are available for use by those industries which must have coal with which to operate their plants. A large part of the city's progress and prosperity may thus be traced to the falls of the Missouri.

The City of Great Falls

The City of Great Falls is located on the banks of the Missouri River and its name is derived from the drop in the stream already referred to. Naturally, the fact that its location gives it such great power would bring around the idea that it is merely an industrial center, but this is not so in the degree that commerce has outstripped the residential features or that many of the factors of refined existence have been neglected. Thanks to the foresight of the citizens of the community the city is one of great beauty, there bein^ something like 640 acres of municipal parks distribute where they will be of the greatest service to the people, in addition to boulevard streets and avenues, beautiful lawns, attractive residences and numerous flower gardens. The founders of the city made it a point to lay out the city with the idea of beauty and convenience, and wide, well paved, handsome thoroughfares are the outstanding feature of the design, while laying out the city "on the square" has had the effect of obliterating at the outset troublous municipal features with which have been forced to contend the city fathers of other communities whose founders were not so far-sighted. Within the limits of the city there are approximately fourteen miles of paved streets and a frontage of 284,710 lineal feet, or equal to 122 acres of boulevard, or 32 miles in length with boulevard and trees on both sides.

The growth of the City of Great Falls is one which can be pointed to with pride by its citizens. In 1910 the city's population was 13,948. The census of 1920 gave the city a population of 24,121, making it the second largest city in the state. The reason for much of this growth can be directly traced to the industrial development of the city, which has rapidly approached the position where it can lay reasonable claim to being the principal manufacturing community of Montana. Its public utilities have kept pace with its industrial growth, and a feature to be noted is its splendid lighting system, secured through the immense amount of electric power at its disposal. With the approach of nightfall numerous handsome electric signs mark its big business establishments. Its five-light cluster ornamental poles furnish a brilliant setting for its business district, and this system is maintained as well in the residence sections, where its long boulevards are marked by ample facilities in this direction and even the alleys are furnished with electric lights, a feature to be found in but few cities anywhere in the country. Many committees from other large municipalities have visited Great Falls for the purpose of studying its lighting system for the benefit of their home communities and the lead of "The Electric City," as it has been named, has been followed already by numerous big cities and towns.

Great Falls City

The same great power that furnishes the city with its light enables Great Falls to support one of the most modern and up-to-date street railway systems in the Northwest, the rails of which have been laid to cover the city to the very best possible advantage, and the frequency of the service of which cannot be surpassed by any city of the same size.

The impression gained by the visitor to Great Falls as to the city's modernity and metropolitan features is strengthened by its modern buildings. The public buildings, both of county and city, have been constructed from the viewpoint of permanency and the needs of the future, and the school buildings are all handsome, well equipped structures which would do credit to any of the large metropolises. The course of instruction given in the grade schools and high schools are the equal of any in the country, and the Montana free text book system is in force. Among the substantial and modern buildings erected in recent years may be mentioned the following: First National Bank Building, eight stories; Ford Building, five stories; Hotel Rainbow, five stories; Park Hotel, five stories; two large and attractive passenger stations for the accommodation of the traveling public; the distributing branch of Swift & Company; the Roberts, Northwestern Auto Supply Company, Great Falls Dairy Products Company, Great Falls Wholesale Grocery Company, Federal and Rocky Mountain Fire Insurance Company buildings; the Masonic Temple, the Elks Temple, the Tribune Publishing Company's Building, the Odd Fellows' Building, the Ursuline Academy, the Brown-Dunn Building, the $150,000 Young Men's Christian Association Building, the annex to the Great Falls High School, the Junior High School, two handsome public schools, a large wholesale drug house, several large apartment houses and automobile sales buildings, and many other commercial structures.

Development at Great Falls along the line of manufacturing has been extremely rapid during the past decade, a fact that can be substantiated by the figures of the 1914 report of the Government Bureau of Census. The report quoted stated that at the time Great Falls possessed fifty- four factories in which there was invested a capital of $9,804,000, and that its products for one year were valued at $9,192,000, in the production of which finished articles a total of $5,430,000 worth of raw materials were consumed. Since that time there has been a healthy and consistent increase both in the number of factories and the size of those which were in existence at the time the report was made, and industries which three or four years ago were struggling along have substituted substantial brick buildings for their former frame structures and the number of men employed therein has greatly increased, the payrolls of these concerns having now reached a point where they form a substantial basis for the city's prosperity. Heading the list of the industrial plants of Great Falls is the smelter operated by the Anaconda Copper Mining Company, details of which have been given already in this chapter. Next in importance to the smelting industry is that of wheat milling, the manufacture of flour having rapidly approached the status of one of the state's leading industries and Great Falls being the chief wheat grinding center between Minneapolis and the Pacific coast. Two of the largest mills in the Northwest are operating here, the plant of the Royal Milling Company having a capacity of 3,600 barrels a day and the mill operated by the Montana Flour Mills Company having a rated capacity of 2,500 barrels daily. Lying as it does in the center of a vast wheat producing area, and with the added advantages of economical power and convenient distributing facilities, it is logical that Great Falls should assume a foremost place in the industry and become the wheat center of the Northwest. In the spring of 1919 there was commenced the construction of the present commodious state terminal elevator, for which bonds amounting to $250,000 were voted by the citizens of Montana in the previous November.

Much of the wheat produced in this district is being used by the large, modern macaroni factory, which was built in 1917 and which has secured excellent results. Another large plant is the sugar beet factory, which is utilizing in its product the beets grown on a large acreage adjacent to the city. Great Falls has the largest packing plant between the Twin Cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis and the Pacific coast, and the most modern creamery and milk station west of the Mississippi River, this latter representing an investment of $250,000, while two smaller creameries are also busily at work. Other business enterprises which may be mentioned as being in a flourishing condition are: several sash and door factories, an ice plant, mining and milling machinery factory, iron works, brass and babbitt metal factory, cornice works, brick and tile plant, gypsum mill, a large blank book and publishing house, a monumental stone works, two bottling works, a soda water factory, three nurseries and greenhouses, an engraving plant, a fur manufacturing house, an optical supplies firm, several cigar factories, an ammonia, bluing and polish factory, numerous bakeries and laundries and other semi-manufacturing plants, and a number of branch establishments of manufacturers of national reputation, among the products represented being automobiles, rubber goods, agricultural machinery and implements, lumber, coal, woodenware, drugs, groceries and stationery.

Located in the Belt Mountains, about fifty miles from Great Falls, are stored commercial quantities of iron ore which analysis has shown to be of high grade. These deposits are found in great veins which lie within the Little and Big Belt Mountains partly in Fergus County, but for the most part in Cascade County which they traverse from one end to the other and are easily reached by railroad. Great Falls' altitude is 3,350 feet and that of Belt Mountain iron ore is 5,300 feet, thus furnishing a descending grade for its transportation to the Electric City. Manganese, essential to Bessemer steel making, is found in large quantities in the Corbin hills, on the line of the Great Northern Railway, about 125 miles distant from Great Falls.

Another raw material which in combination with the other advantages of Great Falls should lead to the establishment of plants to reduce it from its raw state to the finished product, is wool, and that of this section of Montana is of the highest grade.

Transportation Facilities

In the handling of all of the products which can be manufactured and produced at Great Falls, the city has the added advantage of good railroad facilities. The Great Northern, Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul, and Chicago, Burlington & Quincy lines, with their branches, make the city the center of a network of rails which reach out in every direction into the best districts of the state. The "Missoula cut-off" has been mentioned before. Another branch which will greatly facilitate the handling of freight will be the new Rockford-Lewistown-Great Falls cut-off. The Great Northern Railway runs numerous trains daily out of Great Falls, this city being midway on the Havre-Butte main line of the road and trains from here connecting with the "highline" main line of the Great Northern. Here may be secured all transcontinental trains for the Twin Cities and Chicago, good service being given also to Butte, with connections to Salt Lake and California points. Daily train service is maintained directly to Canadian points, while double through service is maintained on the Lewistown branch and that city is connected with the larger city by lines that traverse a prosperous agricultural country in which are many flourishing little communities. Among the branch lines to the smaller towns about Great Falls are: a branch to the big coal camps of Sand Coulee, thirteen miles; to Stockett, eighteen miles west and south; to Belt, seventeen miles; to Armington, nineteen miles; and to Monarch and Neihart, through a splendid mining and agricultural country, sixty-seven miles. West to Gilman a branch line extends fifty-two miles through the Sun River district, and to the northwest a line extends seventy-seven miles to Chouteau and Pendroy, passing through the fertile Montana bench lands. To the north, at Conrad, connections are made with the Montana Western Railway, which runs to Valier. On a line which connects Shelby at the north with Billings on the distant southeast, are operated the through trains of the Burlington route. Daily trains over this route give excellent service to Glacier National Park and its wonderful array of scenic beauties. From Enid in the extreme northwestern portion of the state to Lewistown in Central Montana, the Great Northern cut-off is planned, and this will traverse the large areas of Dawson and Fergus counties. When completed it will form the main line of this railroad from the Twin Cities to the Pacific coast, and will give Great Falls added prestige as a railroad point. From Great Falls the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul operates daily trains to Harlowton, where connections can be made with the main line from Chicago to Seattle. The same line operates a branch line seventy-two miles from Great Falls to Agawam, through Chouteau and one of the most prosperous farming and stock raising sections of the state. When the Soo Line's plans are culminated, Great Falls will have another big railroad.

Great Falls Commercial Club

An organization which has done much to build up Great Falls industries and interests at home and to laud its virtues abroad is the Great Falls Commercial Club, which has been in existence for about ten years. This operates under a board of directors of representatives selected by the Wholesalers' and Jobbers' Association, the Real Estate Association, the Merchants' Association, the Retail Merchants, Hotel and Restaurant Association, the Bar Association, Lumber Dealers' Association, the Bankers' Association, the Doctors and Dentists' Association, the Implement Dealers' Association and the Builders' Association, three directors at large appointed by the president, and the president, vice president, treasurer and secretary of the association. The organization represents every business, industry and profession in the city, thus making the achievements of the body effective and broad in scope. The present secretary of the association is L. E. Jones.

Churches, Charities and Fraternities

While Great Falls has made strides along material lines, its religious, civic, social and charitable activities have been constant. Of the twenty-six religious denominations represented in the city, all have comfortable and appropriate places of worship, while fourteen are provided with handsome church edifices. Nearly all of these denominations have large congregations and are contributors to the welfare and advancement of the city, for the percentage of churchgoers at Great Falls is large, A list of the churches follows:

Adventist, First Baptist,
Swedish Baptist,
Catholic, St. Ann's Cathedral,
Sacred Heart Chapel,
St. Joseph's, St. Peter and Paul's,
First Christian,
First Church of Christ Scientist,
First Congregational,
Episcopal Church of the Incarnation,
Our Saviour's Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran,
Swedish Lutheran Bethlehem,
United Norwegian Lutheran,
Trinity German Evangelical Lutheran,
African Methodist Episcopal,
First Methodist Episcopal,
Immanuel Scandinavian Methodist Episcopal,
Warren Methodist Episcopal,
First Presbyterian,
Grace Presbyterian,
Zion Church,
Salvation Army

Two of the denominations referred to conduct large, well-equipped hospitals at Great Falls, and these are modern institutions in every respect.

Great Falls Y. M. C. A and Y. W. C. A. A contributing factor to the moral welfare of the city is the Young Men's Christian Association.. The Great Falls Y. M. C. A. building was dedicated February 20, 19 16, the men in charge of the state work of the association at that time being: Charles Puehler, state secretary; and F. B. Reynolds, Billings, state committee chairman. The movement was started by J. B. Long, who made a standing offer of $25,000 to "start the ball rolling," and his contribution to the building fund was followed by those of other generous and public-spirited citizens. The building committee consisted of the following: Dr. A. F. Longeway, chairman; C. E. Hubbard, Thomas Couch, K. B. McIver, J. W. Sherwood and Lee M. Ford. The officers of the board at the time of the building's opening were: I. W. Church, president; A. M. Hart, vice president; F. C. Bauer, secretary; L. W. Suhr, treasurer; and H. A. Templeton, first president of the board of directors. The present board of trustees are: J. W. Sherwood, chairman; L. H. Hamilton, I. W. Church, Sam Stephenson, Dr. A. F. Longeway and Fred Long. The first general secretary was Lynn H. Fox, who was succeeded by A. E. Yount, the latter in turn being succeeded by the present secretary, Ralph R. Wolf. E. E. Holdeman is the present physical director.

The building, which cost $150,000 to complete and equip, is one of the handsome structures of the city, and offers an ideal home for the young men of the city, as well as affording a place where both young and older men find healthful recreation and amusement. The present membership of the Y. M. C. A. is 813 members.

The Young Women's Christian Association of Great Falls is also a helpful influence in the life of the city, and the organization, a flourishing one, is housed in a building devoted exclusively to this work. Practically every fraternal order of any importance has representation at Great Falls, the fraternal life of the city being one of its important features and several of the lodges having handsome homes of their own, the Masons, Elks and Odd Fellows, particularly, having erected structures which contribute to the architectural beauty of the city. The city has numerous unions, likewise, and a number of these hold their meetings in Carpenters' Hall which is owned by that branch of the city's artisans.

Public Recreation Grounds and Buildings

Great Falls has seven modern theatres and is visited by all the good road shows, as well as stock companies and headline vaudeville acts. It likewise has 725 acres of public parks and playgrounds and these are located in such a manner that there is not a district in the city which is more than a ten-minute walk removed from some park. The board is appointed by the governor and has absolute control over these public meeting-places. Public band concerts and community singing are features of these recreation grounds and large crowds of the citizens of Great Falls enjoy these summer evening concerts to the utmost. Many of the 75,000 trees under the care of the board have been planted and raised in the nurseries maintained in connection with the park system, and there are now about 20,000 trees planted in the parks of the city, these not including the thousands of elm, maple, ash, poplar and other shade trees planted along the boulevards or in the residence lawns. Another popular place of public amusement and recreation is the city natatorium, a handsome structure, as well as commodious in size and complete in all its appointments.

City Public Schools

In 1886 the public school system of Great Falls consisted of a one room frame building with eighteen pupils. Today it consists of ten substantial brick and stone buildings of modern design and equipment, with an enrollment of 4,778 pupils, and a faculty of 141 instructors and principals to superintend the 147 class rooms of the city schools. In the high school alone there are enrolled 639 pupils. Twenty large play rooms are provided for the purpose of looking after the physical welfare of the children, and playgrounds are adjuncts of every school. Practically every subject offered by any of the public schools of the country is included in the curriculum of the Great Falls schools, and in the course of study, extending from the kindergarten through high school, every effort is made to offer the students a choice of subjects according to the vocations which they desire to follow. Courses in music, drawing, home science, art, physical culture, manual training and commercial and banking trainings, in addition to the regular subjects, are given, and particularly practical are the home science and business courses and the manual training department. The first named of these three trains children along practical lines and equips the girls better for the duties which will devolve upon them later in life, while the courses in commercial work fit the student for a career in the business world should his inclinations be so directed, and the manual training department is also intensely practical and is intended to develop the mechanical ability with which many children are endowed. In the grades this course includes the care and use of tools and the making of simple articles, while in the high school it is extended to mechanical and architectural drawing, cabinet work, wood turning, pattern making, forge work and machine shop practice. A course in automobile repairing has been recently added with the intention of preparing students for this industry. The home science and art courses give the girls a thorough training in the economics of the home. In the grades plain sewing and cutting and plain cooking come under the head of this course, but in the high school it is extended to cover dressmaking, cooking, serving, millinery, home economy and home decoration. An illustration of the practical work done in this department is the senior class which makes its own graduating dresses and thereby gains practical experience as well as bringing about greater democracy among the girls.

Great Falls Public Library

The Great Falls Public Library, located at Great Falls, was founded June 28, 1889, as the Valeria Library and Art Association. On May 1, 1903, an appropriation was received from Andrew Carnegie, from which funds the present handsome structure was erected, and at the same time the name was changed to its present style. Those most prominent in the establishment of the library in 1889 were Jessie S. Ladd, H. O. Chowen, A. E. Dickerman, Theodore Gibson, J. B. Leslie and C. M. Webster. The successive librarians have been: Robert S. Williams, Miss Eloise Petit, Miss Lutie Weitman, Miss Bella Brown and Miss Jennie M. Conner, and the present incumbent of the position, Miss Louise M. Fernald. The library at this time has 26,325 volumes, and the total circulation for the year past was 159,030 volumes.

Great Falls Newspapers

Great Falls' newspapers are the Tribune and the Leader. The latter is the older of the two, having been established June 16, 1888, when the city was still in its infancy, and has always been recognized as the leading republican newspaper of Northern Montana. It has an extensive circulation, takes the full daily report of the Associated Press, and employs a large force of news-gatherers in supplying the matter for two editions, daily and weekly.

Education Outside of Great Falls

Excellent educational advantages are found in Cascade County outside of the county seat, for every effort has been made to provide for the best possible education for the children, and there are 125 rural schools in the county under the supervision of a county superintendent. These compare favorably with the rural schools anywhere and offer a thorough course of instruction. Some of the smaller towns also offer high school training, which is exceptional, considering the size of the communities in which they are located, and the rural school inspector of the state department of education gives suggestions and aids in the supervision of these schools.

Cascade County, in conjunction with the federal government, employs an agent whose duties include advising with the farmers and studying the best systems of farming, stock raising and farm management in this district, giving the farmers the result of his investigations and the benefit of his experience. Recently, the State Legislature provided for a free circulating library that is rapidly being popularized among the rural communities, books being distributed free of charge. This is a county institution and the county agent aids in handling the distribution of the reading matter.

Towns of Cascade County

Among the thriving and flourishing towns of Cascade County, aside from Great Falls, may be mentioned: Cascade, a progressive farming and shipping center; Stockett, a large coal mining town; Belt, which is surrounded by an excellent farming community; Geyser, an important grain shipping point; Neihart, where are located important silver interests; and Monarch, Armington, Raynesford, Spion Kop and others.

Montana Counties 1921

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Source: Montana its Story and Biography, by Tom Strout, Volume 1, The American Historical Society, 1921

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