Golden Valley County, Montana 1921

Golden Valley County is one of the most happily named counties in Montana, by reason both of its natural and artificial advantages. It was created October 4, 1920, from the western part of Musselshell County and the northern part of Sweet Grass County, and is comparatively small in area, containing 1,1 11 square miles. On the north stretch the Snowy Mountains, two townships of which are included within the limits of the county. East and west it is traversed by the Musselshell River, which is fed by a number of small streams coming both from north and south. Among the largest of them are Careless Creek and Currant Creek from the north, and Fish Creek and Big Coulee Creek from the south. These streams furnish abundant water for irrigating throughout the season, and, with a growing season of 100 to 130 days, both irrigated and non-irrigated farming have been carried on successfully for the past ten years. About eighty-five per cent of the land is suited to agricultural purposes, and a large part of this area is already under the plow. The soil is mostly a rich clay loam, that on the benches being already mixed with sand, while along the creeks and in the valleys it partakes of the nature of gumbo, a name given by geologists to the stratified portion of the till of the Mississippi Valley.

Coal of excellent quality, both for domestic and steam use, has been found in various parts of the county, and there are now five small coal mines operated for commercial purposes. A considerable start has also been made in oil development, the local exploitation of this industry dating back to the first discovery of oil in the state, which was made at what is known as Woman's Pocket in September, 1919. Drilling operations are proceeding in five distinct structures within the county's borders, known respectively as the Pole Field Creek, the Woman's Pocket Anticline, the Dead Man's Basin Dome, the Fish Creek Structure and the Big Coulee Dome.

The activities above mentioned form but a part of the county's general commercial interests. Within its limits may be found fourteen grain elevators and a flour mill, while the town of Ryegate has a very successful creamery, which last year turned out $75,000.00 worth of butter. The county assessor's report for 1920 shows land values ranging from $20 to $200 per acre, though grazing land can be purchased for $6 to $10 per acre.

Golden Valley County is also fortunate in its road and rail communication. From east to west it is crossed by the main line of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway, while the Great Northern road crosses it from north to south. It also enjoys the tourist travel of two important highways. The Buffalo Trail Highway from Cody, Wyoming, to Billings, Great Falls and the Glacier National Park, is a park-to-park highway, crossing the Shoshone Irrigation Project, the Yellowstone Valley, the Musselshell Valley, the oil fields, the Great Judith Basin, the Great Falls of the Missouri and the High Line, thus affording the tourist many notable attractions indicative of the wealth and importance of the state. The Electric Highway, which crosses the county east and west, affords a short cut from Forsyth to Helena and Missoula. Abundant possibilities exist for the further development of agriculture, dairying, mining and the oil industry. The tourist traffic is gradually expanding and already calls for additional hotels.

The population of Golden Valley County was estimated in 1920 at 5,000. Ryegate, with a population of 405, is the county seat. Other important community centers are Lavina, Belmont and Barber. Each of these towns can boast of a fine new high school, and educational necessities are promptly recognized and provided for by the citizens.

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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