Granite County, Montana 1921

Like most of the counties of Montana first opened up through the mining industry Granite County has had a longer political existence than the majority of those devoted chiefly to agriculture. It was created March 2, 1893, and has an area of 1,728 square miles; yet it is not thickly settled, its population, according to the recent census, being 4,167.

Granite County is situated in the middle western part of the state, with the Continental Divide crossing its southeastern border, its western boundary line being marked by a spur of the Rocky Mountains. The high mountains in the southern end of the county give rise to two considerable streams, Rock Creek and Flint Creek, which, fed by numerous small tributaries, empty into the Hell Gate River, a stream running westerly through the northern end of the county. The valleys of these three principal streams are protected by high mountains and favored with a rich and deep alluvial soil, which places them among the most fertile parts of the state. The abundant supply of water affords admirable opportunities for irrigation, which is widely practiced throughout the farming districts of the county. Improved irrigated land brings from $50 to $100 an acre, unimproved irrigated land from $20 to $40, and unimproved non-irrigated land from $10 to $20 an acre. Wheat, oats, barley, flax, vegetables, alfalfa, timothy and clover are the principal crops.

Though agriculture, stock raising and dairying have made considerable progress within recent years, mining was the industry to which the county owes its start, and which is still in full and successful operation, the most important mineral products being silver and manganese. Gold, lead and zinc have been produced in lesser quantities. The Granite Bi-metallic Mine at Philipsburg is credited with a production of over fifty million dollars to date, chiefly of silver. A large amount of manganese was mined during the war. Lignite coal has been found in Granite County and large phosphate beds have also been discovered, but the commercial value of the latter product has not yet been ascertained. The West Park district is specially noted for a large deposit of sapphires, larger, it is claimed, than even the famous source of supply of that gem in Burmah. Another source of wealth in Granite County is its large area of commercial timber. Some of this is under private ownership, but 677,236 acres are contained in the Missoula National Forest and 54,760 acres in the Deer Lodge National Forest. Hunting and fishing are tourist attractions which may be found to perfection in many parts of the county.

Granite county is crossed in its northern part by two great railways, the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul and the Northern Pacific, the latter of which has a branch line running southerly from Drummond on the main line to Philipsburg. A highway has also been projected which will cross the county westerly from Anaconda to Hamilton in the Bitter Root Valley.


Philipsburg, the county seat and principal town, is, as already intimated, the terminus of a branch line of the Northern Pacific. It enjoys a commanding position on a terrace of Flint Creek Valley and has a population of about fifteen hundred. Its altitude is 5,175 feet. Among its advantages are a good system of public utilities, including drainage, waterworks and electric lights. Its court house, business blocks and residences are well constructed and attractive, and its two banks can boast aggregate deposits of over one million dollars. Here also is the county high school, with an accredited four years course and additional courses in agriculture and teachers' training. Drummond, at the other end of the branch line, where it connects with the main tracks of the Northern Pacific, is the trading center for the northern part of the county. Among its local institutions are a newspaper, and a high school accredited for the two years course. It has a number of good stores representing the most important branches of mercantile enterprise, and has recently advanced to the dignity of a manufacturing town by the erection of a large saw mill with up to date equipment.

The town of Hall is located in the Flint Creek Valley, in the center of a populous farming section, and but a short distance from lignite coal mines. It enjoys a growing trade from the surrounding district.

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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