Beaverhead County, Montana 1921

If for no other reason, there would be much of interest attaching to Beaverhead County, because it was here that much of the early history of the State of Montana was enacted. Within its borders, on Grasshopper "Creek, in 1862, there occurred the first important discovery of gold which resulted in the settlement of the rich Treasure State and the unfolding of its vast resources, agricultural as well as mineral. Likewise Bannack, the first mining camp in Montana, was the first territorial capital of the state, although today, shorn of its former glory and romance, it bears little resemblance to the prosperous and vivid little community of the days of its prosperity. Today, while mining still is an industry, as well as farming and lumbering, Beaverhead occupies a leading position among the counties of the state principally because of its stock growing interests, in this connection being one of the most important centers in Montana.

Natural Features and Industries of Beaverhead

Beaverhead County, which derives its name from the river of the same title, was created February 2, 1865, and les in the southwestern part of the state. Since 1890, it has shown a slow but steady increase in population at the rate of about 1,000 every decade, as follows: 1890, 4,655; 1900, 5,615; 1910, 6,446; 1920, 7,369.

With a land area of 5,632 square miles, Beaverhead County is bounded on the south and west by the Idaho-Montana state line, and the Continental Divide of the Rocky Mountains marks the northwestern boundary, while on the southwest it is flanked by the Beaverheads. In the interior of the county smaller ranges are found, and between these are extensive valleys and basins, including the Big Hole Basin, Horse Prairie, and the Centennial and the Alaska basins, which are devoted to stock growing and farming. For the greater part, the soil of the tillable areas is of a clay-loam type, and there are approximately 30,000 acres of first-class irrigated land in the county, 130,000 acres of second-class irrigated land and 175,000 acres of non-irrigated farming land, the balance being grazing, mineral and timber country. While in recent years much grain, chiefly wheat and oats of high quality, has been produced on the benches, the favorite crop with the agriculturists is hay, and the Big Hole Basin, which is twelve miles in width and about thirty miles in length, presents the appearance of one great hay meadow. The product of this basin is so high in nutritive value that for years cattle have been fattened in the winter on hay alone and shipped to markets throughout the county, where they have commanded the highest prices. The altitude of Beaverhead County, 5,098 feet, is comparatively high, and experience has taught the agriculturists that the hardier crops are the ones which produce the best results. In this county irrigated land sells for from $50 to $125 per acre, non-irrigated land from $15 to $50 an acre, and grazing land from $6 to $15 an acre.

In addition to the Beaverhead River, the county has the Wise and Big Hole rivers, which, with the numerous tributaries that rise in the high mountains to the south and west, make Beaverhead one of the best watered counties in the state. Because of its excellent irrigation industry has taken the leading place, with farming, mining and lumbering in the order named. As to its mineral resources, the county is believed to have large deposits of copper, lead, graphite, manganese, silver and gold, but the proper exploitation of these metals has been undertaken on a comprehensive scale only during recent years. Large stands of commercial timber are found in the Beaverhead and Madison national forests, and of these 1,325,000 acres of the former and oo.fxx) of the latter are in Beaverhead County.

Transportation and Points of Interest Traversing the county from the north to the south is a branch of the Oregon Short Line Railroad from Pocatello to Butte, while the Gilmore & Pittsburgh Railroad, in the southern part of the county, furnishes and large and bountiful forage, cattle raising and cattle feeding as an transportation from Armstead to Salmon, Idaho. A narrow gauge line runs west and then south from Divide to Elkhorn, and a good highway, running parallel to the Oregon Short Line, runs through the county, making possible a connection with Salt Lake and points west and with Montana points to the north. For the visitors to this region there are to be found excellent hunting and fishing in the mountainous districts. The points of interest are not lacking, as there are numerous evidences of the early days of Montana when the desperadoes of the mining camps fought it out with the vigilantes, and the gulches awarded the hardy and adventurous miners with streams of golden treasure. In the Big Hole Basin, also, there are brought back scenes of earlier days, when the cowboys were in their glory, on some of the big ranches which have not totally laid aside old-time customs.

Dillon, the County Seat Dillon, the county seat of Beaverhead County, was founded in 1880 by the late Gov. B. F. White, who, with Howard Sebree, purchased the ranch of William Deacon, comprising 400 acres, and platted the town. There are a few of the old-time buildings still standing, one of the oldest being the former Opera House, which recently has been remodeled and made into a rooming-house. The cabin of William Deacon stood until 1920 when it was torn down and the logs used in the building of a barn, and practically all of the old landmarks of this thriving city have disappeared, no effort having been made to preserve them. At Dillon is located the State Normal College, a part of the University of Montana; the Beaverhead County High School, and two large public schools. These latter are conducted under the auspices of the normal college and are known as training schools. The condition is considered unique, it being as far as is known the only case in the United States where an entire public school system is conducted in connection with a normal college.

The State Normal College

The act of Congress under which the State of Montana was admitted to the Union set aside 100,000 acres of the public domain tor the establishment and support of a State Normal School. In pursuance of the same plan the Legislative Assembly of Montana established the State Normal College in 1893. The committee having in charge the election of a building began work in that year. The Legislature of 1897 created an executive board which selected a president and faculty, the first session of the school opening September 7, 1897. By an act of the eighth Legislative Assembly, which became a law February 25, 1903, the name of the institution was changed to the Montana State.

Normal College

The State Normal College prepares teachers for the public schools of Montana. It accomplishes its work through professional courses, directed observation of expert teaching, and actual teaching under expert supervision in a public school. The two years curricula permit specialization in kindergarten, primary, intermediate, grammar grade or rural work. The Normal College diploma authorizes its holder to teach in any public school in the state for six years without examination. After twenty-seven months of successful experience in Montana, graduates are granted life certificates by the State Board of Education. A student who completes a third year of Normal College work has opportunity for greater specialization and is better prepared for junior high school teaching.

Graduates of the two years curriculum are granted junior standing in the State University. Students who earn credit after receiving the diploma are granted hour for hour credit up to a maximum of one year in subjects of college or university character. Graduates of either the two or three years curricula who transfer to the State University must satisfy restricted elective and major department requirements; they are exempt from the required work in English composition and physical education.

The Normal College offers no certificate at the close of the first year, but students who find it necessary to teach before earning a diploma are able to secure a second grade certificate valid in the state for two years by completing courses in the required subjects. According to law, Normal College (University of Montana) grades in such subjects are accepted upon certificates in lieu of grades earned by examination. Certificates acquired in this way represent no loss of time since all work done is credited toward a diploma.

The Normal College buildings are well constructed and arranged. The main building with its class rooms, library, laboratories, gymnasium and auditorium, is situated less than 100 yards from the Residence Halls in which nearly all out-of-town students live. These halls, three in number, provide comfortable home "life for women students and excellent accommodations at cost. The campus, upon a slight elevation at the edge of Dillon, is of ample size and well supplied with shade trees. Dillon is well supplied with churches, maintaining congregations of the Catholic, Episcopal, Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, Latter-day Saints and Christian Science denominations, and there being a movement on foot in 1921 to organize a Danish Lutheran Church.

There are four banks at Dillon, the First National, State Bank of Dillon, Security State Bank and the Beaverhead State Bank. The first named is the richest institution in the United States in comparison with the population of the town, its deposits being over $4,000,000. There are two weekly newspapers, the Examiner and the Tribune, and four hotels. Every line of business industry made necessary by the needs of a growing city is represented, and Dillon's stores are conducted in a modern way. As the county seat of Beaverhead County, Dillon is the site of the court house, and also has a large city hall and a Carnegie library. It is an incorporated city, with a mayor and eight aldermen. The main streets of the city are paved and lighted, a municipal gravity water system is in operation and a private electric system is used.

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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