Hill County, Montana 1921

Hill County, pre-eminently noted for its stock raising interests and extensive ranches, is a section of Montana abounding in beautiful scenery and replete with historical associations. It occupies a north central position, with Canada just across the northern border, and in shape is almost square, its length and width being equally sixty miles, though the regularity of the square is broken in the southeast corner where it extends into the Bearpaw Mountains. It is in this southeast portion that the Rocky Bay Indian Agency is located.

Hill County was created February 28, 191 2, by the division of Chouteau County, and the recent census showed a population of 13,958. With the exception of the mountain region above noted, the county is a rolling prairie, interspersed with bench lands and with coulees in those parts adjacent to streams. A rich and fertile sandy loam is the characteristic soil, producing various crops, the most extensive acreage being devoted to wheat and flax. Aside from these, oats, barley, rye and speltz are grown successfully, and potatoes do particularly well both as to yield and quality. The growing of corn and sunflowers for silage is receiving more attention than formerly.

From northwest to southeast the county is traversed by the Milk River, one of the largest streams in Montana, which receives a number of small tributaries. Sage, Box Elder and Beaver creeks are also streams of importance, furnishing water for irrigation. The amount of land thus artificially watered for the year ending July 12, 1920, was 3,025 acres, ranging in value from $30 to $100 an acre. At the same time the county assessor's report showed a total of 1,016,189 acres of non-irrigated farm land and 16,705 acres of state land, most of the latter under sale contract. The dry land is worth from $8 to $50 an acre. Dry land farming has been carried on since the early settlement of the county, but still affords ample opportunity for expansion, especially with the aid of modern methods. Irrigation is being introduced more widely where per mitted by the nature of the surface and contiguity to a water supply, two large projects having recently been planned. Stock raising is followed with profitable results, and dairying and market gardening are making good progress, but are capable of much further development. At Fort Assiniboine, near the county seat, is located the Northern Montana Agricultural Experiment Station, which is maintained by the state. The growing season is from 101 to 126 days.

The deposits of coal in Hill County are large enough to encourage its commercial exploitation, especially in view of its good quality, and mining is carried on profitably, some of the mines operating all the year round, and others being worked only in the winter when the labor from the farms can be utilized. In drilling for oil, natural gas has been found and oil prospecting is still proceeding vigorously with unknown possibilities for the future.

The tourist visiting Hill County can find many objects of interest, both natural and historical. Among the most peculiar and picturesque are the "Bad Lands" along the Milk River, which occupy a large region in the vicinity of Havre. Though not so well known as the corresponding formations in Dakota and Eastern Montana, they are fully as interesting and as well worthy of inspection. The beautiful scenery in the Bearpaw Mountains is one of attractions possessing historical associations, for it was there that General Howard's troops finally captured Sitting Bull after a long and hazardous campaign.

Old Fort Assiniboine

The agricultural station at Fort Assiniboine has many features of interest to dry land farmers, and the old fort itself, many buildings of which are still in repair, recalls memories of frontier days in the Northwest, of Indian raids and military expeditions, when life was a romance tinged with danger and only the strong and brave were likely to survive. The United States troops stationed here, and those at Forts Missoula and Helena, co-operated with the Canadian mounted police to render the Montana and Canadian border safe for the pioneers and early settlers of the state, some of whom, still surviving, retain vivid memories of those eventful days. Now Hill County is traversed east and west by the main line of the Great Northern Railway, the Great Falls-Butte branch running southwest from Havre to Glacier Park.


Havre, the county seat, is an incorporated city with three wards and a population, according to the last census, of 5,429. It was until recently a railway division point on the Great Northern, having the largest roundhouse and railway machine shop in the state, but a re-arrangement of divisions on that road has diminished its importance as a railroad center. It is, however, a busy commercial town with modern improvements, including ten miles of boulevard illuminated with clustered tungsten lights. Havre has three banks, three graded schools, one for each ward and high school, giving employment altogether to more than sixty teachers.

Another important educational establishment is the large parochial school connected with St. Jude Thaddeus Church. Prominent among local institutions is a tasteful and well-constructed Carnegie Library containing 3,500 volumes. Three newspapers are published in Havre, there are twelve societies represented, and the Masons have erected a commodious temple. The United States land office also has quarters here. Four miles northwest of the city is the county hospital, near which are found cement deposits of commercial value.

Of the five churches in Havre, three, the Catholic, Methodist Episcopal and Presbyterian-are of early origin, having been established between 1891 and 1893. Local interests are watched over and assiduously promoted by a well-organized commercial club, with T. E. McCroskey as secretary. The Roosevelt Highway runs through Havre on its way to Glacier Park.

The report of the county superintendent shows that there are 104 public schools in Hill County, and at Rocky Bay Indian Agency there is a school with 120 pupils.

Along the Theodore Roosevelt International Highway in Hill County there are a number of prosperous towns, including Hingham, Kremlin, Gildford, Rudyard and Fresno. Laredo and Box Elder are towns on the Great Falls branch of the Great Northern. Other towns and villages are springing up in various parts of the county, some of which may be destined to future importance.

Montana Counties 1921

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


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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