Blaine County, Montana 1921

Among the counties of Montana and one which is distinctively divided into two different sections, plains and mountainous, is Blaine County. The former, which comprises about two-thirds of the land area of 4,219 square miles, lies in the northern part of the county, from the northern boundary, formed by the Canadian line, down to about township 30. This region is almost wholly devoted to grain growing and farming, and the crops include wheat, flax, rye, oats, corn and blue-joint hay. Root crops and vegetables do well, and alfalfa seed raised in Blaine County has always commanded a premium on the market. The Milk-River Valley which crosses the county east and west, is included in the Milk River project of the reclamation service and when developed will probably be one of the best agricultural districts in the state. This will offer an excellent opportunity to farmers of some means.

The agricultural district referred to is a matter of modern development for the greater part. The soil, varying from a sandy loam to a gumbo in the valleys, and a chocolate loam on the benches, has responded spendidly to the treatment of the up-to-date agriculturists. On the other hand, the southern part of the county, extending down to the Missouri River, with its outlying ridges of the Little Rocky Mountains in the southeastern corner, at the lower end of the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, and the Bear Paw Mountains in the southwestern part, are best adapted to the older industry of the region, that of stock raising. This part of the county also offers the chief attractions to tourists, for there is much excellent scenery, good hunting and fishing and the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, as a reminder of the old West, remains to attract and hold the interest of the visitors.

Blaine County, named in honor of James Blaine, the American statesman and political historian, was created February 29, 1912. Its chief source of water supply is the Milk River, which crosses the county east and west, although several large tributaries flow into this stream from the north and from the Bear Paw Mountains on the south. It is not noted as a mining county, although this industry has been engaged in to some extent. Nor has its timber been of a sufficient quantity or quality to make lumbering a leading occupation, although some timber is found in the mountainous districts, and, as is the case with many Montana counties, quite a large amount of cottonwood grows along the streams. Its chief means of transportation is found in the main line of the Great Northern Railway, which runs through the heart of the county, and this is paralleled by the Roosevelt Memorial Highway. Graded schools have been established in all communities, the rural schools are of a superior order, and there are two high schools, accredited for the four-year course, located at Chinook and Harlem.

The Town of Chinook

Chinook, the county seat of Blaine County, is also the largest town in size and the one of chief importance. A town of 1,200 population, it lies on the main line of the Great Northern, which runs from Minneapolis to Seattle, and is the center of a productive irrigated district, being situated on a slight elevation overlooking the Milk River. Also, it is the trading point for the Bear Paw Mountain stock raising district, of about fifty miles in length, and maintains a large live stock yards, a thriving wool market and facilities for the handling of such coal as in mined in the locality. Many of the farmers of the outlying districts bring their families to Chinook during the winter months in order that their children may enjoy the educational advantages offered by its schools. The Blaine County Fair, an event of some importance in Northern Montana, is held at Chinook each year. This was incorporated in 1901 and has been increasingly successful each year. Chinook has two national banks, two newspapers, four churches, a creamery and two grain elevators. It derives its name from the warm, dry wind which descends from the mountains and in winter removes the snow with remarkable rapidity.

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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