Roosevelt County, Montana 1921

The county which possesses the distinction of being named in honor of the great American president, statesman, soldier and naturalist, Col. Theodore Roosevelt, is one of the youngest of Montana's counties, having been created February 18, 1919. Its early history is that of Sheridan County, of which it was formerly a part, and of North Dakota, which state forms its eastern boundary line. Situated as it is in the northeastern part of the state, during the early days it was the scene of many conflicts between the Indians and the white settlers, but this matter is covered in another chapter of this work, dealing with the settlement of the pioneers who pushed over the line of the territory from North Dakota and points to the east and south.

Farming and Stock Raising

Roosevelt County has a land area of 2,355 square miles, and is eighty miles long and thirty miles wide. Its altitude, 1,922 feet, is the lowest in the state. It is exclusively an agricultural and stock raising county, and while non-irrigated farming predominates over the irrigated method, when the Fort Peck Indian Reservation Reclamation Project in the western part of the county is completed by the United States Government, 152,000 acres will be irrigated in one body. All of the county is practically a rolling prairie country, with a soil varying from a deep heavy chocolate loam to a light sandy loam, well adapted for large scale operations, a fact which was recognized by the Montana Farming Corporation (a Morgan concern) which has leased several thousand acres on the Fort Peck Reservation and is raising wheat and flax on a big scale. In addition to these, corn and hay are the chief crops, although before the coming of the agriculturally inclined settlers this region was noted among stockmen for its growth of heavy, luxurious and nutritious grasses.

Aside from agriculture, stock raising is the chief industry, and much progress has been made in establishing pure-bred cattle herds. A Tri-County Stock Show for Sheridan, Roosevelt and Richland counties is held annually at Culbertson and is considered to be one of the most complete in the state. The Shorthorn herd owned by Lowe & Powers, at this point, is accounted the best herd in Northeastern Montana and Western North Dakota.

Aside from the Missouri River, which marks the county's southern boundary, the principal stream in Roosevelt County is the Poplar River, flowing southerly through the county and emptying into the Missouri, hut there are also a number of smaller streams, notably Big Muddy Creek, all tributaries of the Missouri. Non-irrigated farms in this county sell from $25 to $50 an acre, irrigated farms considerably higher, and grazing land considerably less. Some of the lands under the ditches of the Fort Peck Indian Project are being sold by Indians who have received patent in fee to their allotments, at prices ranging from $30 to $50 an acre, the purchaser assuming the construction costs.

Mineral Resources

In the matter of timber, cottonwood and ash are to be found along the streams, but there are no commercial stands of marketable lumber.

The mineral resources are much more valuable, for fine beds of lignite coal of good quality are found throughout the county, and there has been considerable prospecting for oil and gas. The indications for the development of these industries are considered promising. In case that such industries develop, there will be no serious difficulties in the way of securing transportation facilities, as the main line of the Great Northern Railroad parallels the Missouri River throughout the county, and a branch line runs north from Bainville into Sheridan County, while another branch from Snowden runs south into Richland County. The Roosevelt Memorial Highway follows the main line of the Great Northern.

While still a county in its infancy, prior to its creation Roosevelt had the benefit of the work done in the way of development by Sheridan County, and this included the establishment of a public school system. In addition to rural and graded schools, there are four high schools in the county. Those at Poplar, Culbertson and Wolf Point are accredited for the four-year term, and the school at Bainville for two years. According to the United States Census of 1920, Roosevelt County has a population of 10,347, and its assessed valuation is $20,060,127.

Wolf Point School

Wolf Point and Other Towns

The largest town in the county and one which seems to have a bright future before it, not only on account of the railroad shops but also because of the large territory opening up around it in the Fort Peck Indian Reservation Reclamation Project, is Wolf Point, situated in the southwestern portion of the county. This is a railroad division point on the main line of the Great Northern Railroad, and according to the 1920 census report had a population of 2,098. In 19 16 this community was only an Indian agency town, with a population of 300 inhabitants. Today it has beautiful homes, fine churches, a good school system and progressive business establishments. Poplar, also located on the main line of the Great Northern Railroad, and on the Missouri River, is a town that is growing rapidly and by the 1920 census had a population of 1,152.

This community is one that attracts interest because of the unique Indian Fair held every year. It is situated on the river whose name it bears. The little town of Mondak, in the extreme southeastern corner of the county, was made the temporary county seat at the time of the county's creation.

One of the oldest towns in the eastern portion of the state is Culbertson, which, with a population of only 347, has taken the lead in encouraging the growing of pure-bred livestock, and holds an annual stock show at which exhibitors come from various parts of Roosevelt and the adjoining counties of Sheridan and Richland. Bainville, another town in the eastern part of the county, had a population of 396 at the last census report, but is growing rapidly because of its good railroad facilities. This town is also the site of a flour mill with a capacity of 550 barrels daily, the largest in Northeastern Montana or Northwestern North Dakota, which is supplied by grain due to its railroad facilities and is in constant operation. The town is also becoming quite a shipping point and presents an opening for wholesale branch houses. Other thriving little towns, owing their importance chiefly to the fact that they lie in the midst of rich agricultural districts, are Froid, McCabe and Brockton.

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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