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Richland County, Montana 1921

Richland County is situated in the northeastern part of Montana and has the shape of an irregular right triangle, with the Missouri River, flowing eastward, as its northern boundary, and North Dakota as it's eastern. It was created May 2.7, 1914. Its land area is about 1,900 square miles. The greater part of the surface, indeed nearly all of it, is underlaid by lignite coal, which is to be had for the digging and is sold commercially for local use.

The principal streams are the Yellowstone toward the east, flowing in a northeasterly direction to join the Missouri near the state line; the Missouri on the north, and Redwater Creek on the west. They have numerous tributaries, many of considerable size. The average depth of wells is 40 feet. A range of hills runs northeasterly through the county, marking the divide between the Missouri River and Yellowstone River watersheds. Along the course of these streams, long before gold was discovered in Montana, fur traders had built posts and lived adventurous and almost solitary lives, their exploits and experiences adding many a fascinating page to the history of the West.

The timber in Richland County consists mostly of cottonwood, which is found along the streams, with some pine and cedar in the rough portions, but there are no commercial stands of timber in the county. Seventy-five per cent of the surface is suitable for cultivation. General farming and stock raising are the chief industries, the latter carried on chiefly in the northern part of the county. Dairying is also followed successfully and to a considerable extent in the irrigated districts. The land in the Yellowstone Valley through the county is irrigated from the Lower Yellowstone Project, constructed by the United States Reclamation service in 1908. Along the tributaries of the Yellowstone more land is irrigated from private ditches. The valley land is practically level and is characterized by a rich soil, with no stones, gumbo or sagebrush, except in spots. The Yellowstone Valley is from two to six miles in width and smaller valleys are found along the tributary streams. The bench lands for the most part are rolling and somewhat rough along the creeks and rivers, but quite level in places. The soil here is a chocolate loam, practically free from stones, and underlaid with a clay sub-soil. On these lands wheat, corn, oats and flax are grown successfully. The irrigated districts are devoted chiefly to alfalfa, sugar beets, potatoes and other vegetables and some grain. The average value of improved irrigated land is $150 an acre, improved non-irrigated farming land $40 an acre, non-improved bench lands $25, and grazing land $10 an acre. Transportation facilities are furnished by two railway systems, the Great Northern and the Northern Pacific, and other lines are in projection. The Great Northern has a branch running south from Mondak to Sidney, while another branch of the same system enters the county from Dakota at East Fairview and connects with the Mondak line. This is part of a proposed new transcontinental cut-off which has been built west in Richland County as far as Richey, Dawson County, but the construction of which was interrupted by the war. A line westward through Sidney has been projected by the Soo road, and the Northern Pacific has projected a line from Sidney to Killdeer, North Dakota. The county roads, which include several state highways, are kept in good shape.

The county seat of Richland County is Sidney, which in 1920 had a population of 1,400. It is a general milling and market town and is the only railroad center in the county. Among its industries are a creamery and a flour mill. It has a modern system of public utilities, including water works, sewerage and electric lights. Its altitude is 1,978 feet above sea level. The other principal towns of the county are Fairview, Lambert, Savage and Enid.

Education has been well provided for in Richland County and there are seventy-four school districts under efficient superintendence. Sidney had a good high school, with a department for the training of rural teachers. The population of the county in 1920 was 8,989.

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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