Powder River County, Montana 1921

Prosperity and development of the West have always followed the railroad. Wherever the iron horse has made his way he has been trailed by the forces which make for advancement and settlement, but until his tracks have wended across a stretch of country that locality will never realize its fullest possibilities. Lying in Southeastern Montana, its southern boundary marking the northern boundary of Wyoming, Powder River County, so-called from the stream of that name, is remote from any railroad, and stock raising is the chief industry, although practically all the best homestead lands have been entered upon.

 Surveys have been made for a railroad from Belle Fourche, South Dakota, to Miles City, Montana, and whenever the line is built there will be a rapid development of the agricultural industry in the county, and the communities, all small at this time, will offer many opportunities in various business ways. Powder River County has a land area of 3,337 square miles, and the northern and eastern portions of the county consist of rolling prairies with pine and cedar brakes. The western and southern portions are rough and broken in places, with hills of considerable size, and this locality will in all probability always be used for grazing purposes. The soil in the districts adapted for agriculture is chiefly a deep, fertile loam, and alfalfa and corn are the leading crops. Some small grain is raised, there are a few old orchards in the county and those that have been properly cared for have done well, and small fruits, vegetables and melons are successful.

Cattle raising is now the chief industry and there are many old-time big cattle outfits operating in this region. Practically all the irrigated land in the county belongs to these ranches, having been developed to furnish winter forage. The Powder River flows northeasterly through the county, and into it flows the Little Powder, which drains the southern portion of the county. Otter Creek, Pumpkin Creek and Mizpah River are other streams which flow more or less during the year, and a number of artesian wells, developing a good flow, have been brought in.

There is considerable lignite coal in the county, but no prospecting has been done to ascertain what other mineral resources, if any, the county possesses. There are some commercial stands of timber, cottonwood, wild plum, box elder and ash growing along the streams, while pine and cedar are found in the hills. There are 395,000 acres of the county included in the Custer National Forest.

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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