Garfield County, Montana 1921

Garfield County, situated in the east central part of Montana, with the Missouri River for its northern boundary and the Musselshell River for its western, was created April I, 1919. Though one of the infant counties of the state, it has already given evidence of lusty growth and the promise of a well-rounded maturity. The surface of the county is generally rolling, with breaks along the Missouri River and some rougher country in the northern part in the neighborhood of Piney Buttes. The most fertile spots are found on the bottom lands, but there are also good agricultural possibilities on the benches, where the soil is for the most part a chocolate loam.

Natural and Acquired Features of Garfield County

The central part of the county is elevated, and there many small streams take their source, flowing to all points of the compass and emptying into the Musselshell and Missouri rivers and into Dry Creek. In most places good well water may be obtained at depths varying from ten to fifty feet. In some districts artesian wells have been bored to depths of 150 to 175 feet, tapping a supply of clear pure water. There is little commercial timber in the county, such as there is consisting of the small pine along the Missouri and Musselshell rivers. The small creeks are generally fringed with cottonwood.

Garfield County being yet in the pioneer stage, stock raising has hitherto been the chief industry, though other spheres of industrial activity are being actively developed with good promise for the future. Scenes characteristic of the Old West with its picturesque cowboys and extensive cattle ranges, may still be seen here. Agriculture is undergoing a slow development, owing to the lack of transportation facilities, there being as yet no railroad in the county. This handicap is certain to be removed at no distant date, as the Great Northern has surveyed a new main line that will cross the county east and west, and which has been completed in the adjoining counties of Richland and Ferguson. A gap of 150 miles remains to be filled up, and the work will doubtless be undertaken as soon as financial conditions permit. Still another transcontinental line has been surveyed through the county, but its construction as yet is uncertain. Should it materialize it would place the county in an especially favorable condition as to rail communication. The motorist traveling east or west through the county can avail himself of the Green Trail, and a good highway is also maintained from Miles City, Custer County, to Jordan.

The present lack of rail facilities, while a handicap to those already on the ground, is an advantage to new settlers, as it gives them the opportunity of buying land at lower prices than could be easily secured nearer a railroad line. Irrigated lands sell from $40 to $100 an acre, non-irrigated farm lands from $10 to $20, and grazing lands from $5 to $10 an acre. Alfalfa, wheat, oats, corn and rye are the principal crops, which, owing to the inaccessibility of markets, are raised in quantities merely sufficient to satisfy local needs.

Though not pre-eminently a mining county, Garfield is not devoid of mineral wealth. Coal has been found in all parts, but is chiefly of the lignite variety. Chalk has also been found in commercial quantities, and potash deposits have been reported. The operations of oil prospectors have recently opened up a new and dazzling field of opportunity, having resulted in some producing wells, with good prospects for a wider development of this industry, and, with each new well brought in, scenes of excitement have been witnessed like those characteristic of the oil fields of Pennsylvania and Texas.

The tourist seeking the beauties of nature can find them in abundance in Garfield County. The romantic scenery of Hell Creek Canyon has become widely known, and is fully matched by the Snow Creek Game Preserve along the Missouri in the northern part of the county. This preserve was created through the efforts of W. T. Hornaday of the New York Zoological Society, and in addition to its wild natural scenery, it is well stocked with wild game, including some species now nearly extinct.

In 1920 Garfield County had a population of 5,368. The county seat is Jordan, which has an estimated altitude of 2,800 feet and a population (1920) of 813. It is the largest community in the county and the principal trading center. From here an auto stage runs to and from Miles City carrying daily mail, and telephone and wireless communication with the same point are also maintained. Among local institutions are a high school accredited for the four years course. Altogether the county has ninety-five schools, well organized and superintended in a state of satisfactory efficiency. Among the other towns of the county, Mosby in the western part is enjoying a rapid growth, chiefly owing to the oil developments in that vicinity. Edwards and Sand Springs are good trading points in the same end of the county. The chief trading center south of Jordan is Cohagen. With the coming of the railroad, and the further development of agriculture, mining and the oil industry, Garfield County is due to enjoy a long period of prosperity and substantial growth.

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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