Gallatin County, Montana 1921

Gallatin is one of the oldest of Montana's counties, having been created February 2, 1865. Located just west of the Bridger range of mountains, in south central Montana, its southern boundary extends to the Yellowstone National Park and the State of Idaho, and its 2,507 square miles are included in an area about 100 miles in length and approximately twenty five miles in width. Included in the county is the Gallatin Valley, a garden spot of the state, located among the headwaters of the Missouri River at the northwestern corner of the Yellowstone National Park. More than half a million acres, the larger portion under cultivation, lie in this fertile region, which on every side is walled in by snow-capped mountains. Down the sides of the Rockies, the Gallatin, the Bridger and the Madison, course many streams which irrigate the soil and serve to develop the agriculture of the county.

Like other Montana counties, Gallatin depended largely for its early settlement upon the ranchmen, but these were soon succeeded by the farmers, who found the rich and fertile soil productive of large and unfailing crops. Thus it is that the Gallatin Valley has come to be termed the "Egypt of America." About half the total area of the farming land is under irrigation, while the remainder is dry farmed, a method that has been in vogue for thirty years, having originated in this region.

The Gallatin Valley, in spite of being primarily an agricultural country, boasts of a number of thriving and growing cities, principal among which are Bozeman, Three Forks, Belgrade, Manhattan, Willow Creek and Salesville. Three Forks, with two railroads, has a population of 2,000 and is a little city with its own water plant and electric lighting system. Manhattan is a milling and shipping point, its malting works being its leading industry. Belgrade has flour mills and elevators. Willow Creek is in the heart of a prosperous agricultural district. At Trident is a large cement factory. Beautiful mountain scenery, many streams and lakes, good hunting and fishing, and proximity to the Yellowstone Park, have made Gallatin County headquarters for summer tourists for many years; a not inconsiderable source of revenue for residents.

Much timber of commercial value is to be found on the Gallatin and Bridger ranges of mountains, but lumbering has never been conducted on a large scale, although there are several small mills in the timbered region. Agriculture, stock growing and the manufacture of flour and cereal products are the chief industries. Large herds of cattle and bands of sheep range the southern part of the county, flour mills are operated in practically all of the towns and the raising of peas for seed and canning purposes is an important industry, as is also the manufacture of dairy products; but Gallatin County is most widely noted for its production of grains and grasses. Spring and winter wheat, oats, barley, peas, clover and alfalfa, are the principal crops raised. In 1919 (census of 1920) the 76,071 acres in the county which raised cereals produced 968,644 bushels, of which 640,466 were wheat and 259,204, oats. Under the head "hay and forage," 70,124 tons were raised from 51,046 acres.

Gallatin County, as a whole, has a splendid school system. In addition to high schools in the smaller towns, the county high school is located at Bozeman, the county seat, and that city is likewise the seat of the State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts and the United States Experiment Station. In fact, the matter of good schools has always been a question of prime consideration by the people of this county. Modern school buildings, well furnished with the necessary equipment for school work, well lighted, heated and with good water, have been provided rapidly and with a lavish hand. The requirements for teachers are high. The state course of study which provides for work along all academic lines and in addition thereto, courses in agriculture and suggestive work in morals and manners, nature study, etc., forms the basis for the work in the rural schools.

As to population, Gallatin County has 15,864 inhabitants, 14,079 in 1910. Bozeman, its largest town, has a population of 6,183. Good irrigated land in Gallatin County may be purchased for from $100 to $300 per acre, while non-irrigated land sells for from $50 to $100 per acre, the wide difference in price being due to location and improvements. Gallatin County places great value upon its drainage and water supply. The valley lands are irrigated from the waters of the West Gallatin River and its tributaries. The Missouri River finds its source in the Gallatin Valley, at the confluence of the Jefferson, Madison and Gallatin rivers near Three Forks. As to transportation facilities, the main line of the Northern Pacific traverses the entire length of the Gallatin Valley. The main line of the Chicago, Milwaukee & Pugent Sound crosses the northern end of the county and is fed by a branch line originating at Bozeman. Other lines are the Gallatin Valley Railway, Yellowstone Park Railway, Oregon Short Line and Camp Creek Railway, and an electric railway is operated between Bozeman and Salesville.

The Yellowstone Trail traverses the Gallatin Valley, and Gallatin County was one of the first to build hard-surfaced roads. A scenic highway is being constructed from Bozeman to Yellowstone, up the West Gallatin Canyon to the western entrance of the Yellowstone National Park. This is known as the Gallatin way and is considered one of the most attractive scenic drives of the West. Gallatin County has a roadbuilding program involving an expenditure of $1,000,000.

Probably few farming districts have more natural attractions on their borders. The Bridger Mountains, the highest peaks of which reach an elevation of 10,000 feet, lie along the eastern side of the valley, and at the foot of these mountains and within three or four miles of the summits are cultivated fields. To the southwest a few miles are the Spanish Needles, more lofty and more rugged, and everywhere on the lower slopes of these mountains are large areas of timber. A drive along the foot of the mountains in any direction will bring the tourist to dozens of beautiful, shady canyons, each with its overhanging crags and cliffs, sparkling springs and streams of clear, pure water. Most of these streams are stocked with mountain, rainbow and eastern brook trout.

The City of Bozeman

The metropolis of the Gallatin' Valley, the city of Bozeman, which is also the county seat, is located in the heart of the Rocky mountains and in the midst of one of the most picturesque spots in Montana. Known locally as the "city of homes," it is also becoming popular as a summer home for the tourist and sportsman. On the main line of the Northern Pacific and a branch of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul, it is the seat of the State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, which has an attendance of from 500 to 600 students. In addition to having several most attractive residence streets, the city possesses a well-equipped Young Men's Christian Association, an Elks' Home, a handsome Federal building, good schools and many churches. The municipal water works draw the city's supply from a mountain lake six miles distant. The Bozeman Chamber of Commerce is a useful and industrious body, with neat and really artistic headquarters, which serve as exhibit and rest rooms and a place for society and public meetings. The city has an unusual number of well paved and lighted streets for a place of its size.

In respect to educational advantages, Bozeman ranks high. Its public science and manual training, and pupils going from the Bozeman schools into other states find themselves well equipped for taking up the work in the institutions which they enter. Pupils who finish the eighth grade in the public schools are entitled to enter the Gallatin County High School where tuition is free. This is a first-class educational institution of secondary grade, its course of study being modern and full credit being granted to it by all of the higher institutions of learning in the state and by many of the leading colleges and universities of the country.

In addition to these advantages, Bozeman has the distinction of being the home of an institution of higher learning which maintains the largest faculty and has a greater number of students than any other educational institution of the state, the State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts. This offers to its students all of the advantages that may be secured in any similar institution in the United States. The State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, of which Alfred Atkinson is president, was established February 16, 1893, and consist of the Colleges of Agriculture. Engineering, Applied Science and Household and Industrial Arts; Courses for Vocational Teachers, the School of Music, the Summer Quarter, the Secondary Schools of Agriculture, Home Economics and Mechanic Arts, the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Agricultural Extension service. A more extended notice of the State College of Agriculture appears in the educational chapter.

Among the factors which have made for higher morals and better citizenship at Bozeman, the Young Men's Christian Association is worthy of mention. The Bozeman local was organized in November, 19 13, the first directors being W. E. Harmon, H. S. Buell, F. M. Brown, R. J. Cunningham, A. E. Westlake and P. C. Waite, and the first trustees E. B. Martin, George P. Dier, A. C. Roecher, A. J. Walrath and W. S. Davidson. The site was purchased in December of the same year, plans were ordered drawn, a campaign for funds was inaugurated and $65,000 raised for the erection of the structure. Later, an additional sum of $7,500 was raised for the furnishing of the building. Charles Puehler was state secretary and O. C. Colton building secretary. After the completion of the building, Mr. Colton was retained as the first local secretary, and he was succeeded in turn by Oliver Price, J. C. Snowden, P. A. Ten Haf and H. J. Williams, the last named being the present secretary. The present board of directors consists of G. L. Martin, E. J. Parkin, O. A. Lynn, C. S. Kenyon, R. E. Esgar, G. R. Powers, F. M. Brown, W. M. Cobleigh, J. R. Parker, William Hollingsworth, W. F. Day and R. J. Cunningham, while the present trustees are A. C. Roecher, E. B. Martin, Nelson Story, Jr., W. S. Davidson, F. O. Wilton and Walter Aitken. The present membership consists of 353 men, 174 boys, eighty-four women and thirty-eight girls, a total of 649, in addition to which there are ninety-three subscribers who make donations toward the support of the Association, making a total list of 742 subscribers.

Bozeman is a well-to-do city which maintains four banks with deposits of over $4,000,000. As a business center it is a distributing point for the entire Gallatin Valley. Large cereal and flouring mill interests are centered at the county seat, in addition to which there is a pea canning factory, many elevators and warehouses and several wholesale and jobbing houses. The city holds out numerous attractions to the tourist. Only four miles from the city, in Bridger Canyon, is to be seen a most interesting institution, the United States Government Fish Hatchery. There are many mountain canyons within a short distance of the city, with good roads leading to almost all of them. Splendid trout fishing may be had in each of these canyons, and there are also numerous mountain streams and mountain lakes within a short distance of the city. The city maintains camping grounds for auto tourists, and supplies free wood, water, light and other conveniences for those who would tarry there. The grounds are located two blocks south of Main Street and are entered from Church Avenue.

One of the city's amusement features each year is the event known as the Bozeman Roundup, the largest and most spectacular entertainment of its kind staged. It is a reproduction of the frontier days of Montana schools offer special courses in writing, drawing, music, domestic and spectators come, year after year, from all parts of the country; while contestants, not only from the state but from other sections of the West, enter the lists to test their skill, daring, strength and endurance in such contests as "broncho-busting," "steer-roping" and "bull-dogging."

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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