Rosebud County, Montana 1921

Correctly speaking, the Old West is of the past. There are some still remaining who recall the days of Indian fighting, miles of cattle ranges, daily privations and primitive conditions, but for the most part the ever increasing influx of settlers from the more eastern communities, has put the stamp of an advanced civilization upon even the most remotely situated sections and day by day the old customs are passing further into the background of memory. However, in several isolated cases there are to be found localities which have clung tenaciously to the long past, who have refused to accept in full the refinements of the twentieth century and who therefore retain some of the glamour of the Old West. One of these localities lies in Rosebud County, where, in the southern part, is situated the Tongue River Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation. Owing to the fact that this reservation is located far from any railroad, the Government's wards on this reservation have not had the opportunity of becoming spoiled by coming into contact with the pleasures and vices of their white brothers of the cities, and are more like the Indians of forty or more years ago than almost any other reservation Indians. Also, in the southern end of the county are to be found a number of typical old-time western cattle ranches, whose owners have fought stubbornly to continue their operations along the old lines and who have been successful in their determined stand because of their remoteness from railroad connections.

Natural and Acquired Features

Rosebud County, which is situated in the southeastern part of Montana, was created February 1 1, 1901, being formed from the western part of Custer County, and derives its name from Rosebud Creek, an important tributary of the Yellowstone River. The land area of the county is 4,993 square miles, making it the sixth largest county in the state, and it also ranks well as to wealth, its assessed valuation in 1920 being $35,475,463, although its population, according to the 1920 census was only 8,002. Sixty miles of the fertile Yellowstone Valley extends through its central part from east to west, and the county is irregular in shape, with a maximum length from east to west of 114 miles and a maximum breadth of eighty-four miles north and south.

Agricultural and Other Natural Wealth

Rosebud County is well watered by good-sized streams. In addition to the Yellowstone River, there are the Tongue and Big Horn rivers and Rosebud, Sunday, Sand, Horse, Little Porcupine, Froze to Death, Alkali, Tullocks, Sarpy, Armells and Sweeney creeks. The geographical nomenclature will suggest much to the modernist who is endeavoring to visualize the country as it was when the first settlers took up their abode in this region. There are three important irrigation projects in the county. On the south side of the Yellowstone River and just west of Forsyth, is the Yellowstone Irrigation Project of 5,000 acres. East of Forsyth on the north side of the Yellowstone is the Carterville Project of 10,000 acres, and on the same side of the river west of Forsyth is the Hammond Project of 5,000 acres. Many minor projects are found on smaller streams, but the entire matter of irrigation is covered elsewhere in this work and it is not necessary to go into it fully here. It may be stated, however, that there are about 30,000 acres of irrigated land in the county and 60,000 acres that are irrigable, nearly 2,000,000 acres of tillable land and 1,200,-000 acres of grazing land. Naturally, in a county in which conditions are so favorable, agriculture and stock raising are the principal industries. Wheat, rye, oats, barley, corn, alfalfa, alfalfa seed and sugar beets are the chief crops. While the soil varies, the prevailing type is chocolate loam with a clay sub-soil. In some of the northern parts of the county, a heavy clay predominates but with proper cultivation gives good yields. Rosebud is considered a big corn county, has yielded banner crops of Turkey Red wheat, particularly in recent years, and also is a good county for various vegetables.

Improved irrigated lands in Rosebud County will average $125 an acre in value, improved non-irrigable lands $30 an acre, unimproved tillable lands $15, and grazing lands $7 an acre.

For the most part, the stock raising industry in Rosebud County centers about the Tongue and Big Horn rivers and on Rosebud Creek, although this vocation is followed to some extent in almost all portions of the county. Some timber of commercial value is found in the county there being 104,000 acres of the county included within the Custer National Forest. Until recently, Rosebud County had not been considered as possessing minerals of any great value, but it is reported that the Northern Pacific Railway has completed a survey into the southern end of the county to tap a field that is estimated to contain 2,000,000 tons of bituminous coal. Lignite is also plentiful. One of the largest potential oil domes in the state is in the northern part of Rosebud County and development work is now being conducted on it. Two transcontinental railways traverse the county from east to west, the Northern Pacific and the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul, and a fifty-mile stretch of the Yellowstone Highway is in Rosebud County.

Educational Matters

The educational advantages provided for the children of Rosebud County include 100 schoolhouses, in which, in 1920, there were 1,938 pupils undergoing instruction. There are likewise five high schools, two of them accredited for a four-year term, with 122 pupils enrolled.

Forsyth, Rosebud and Other Towns

The county seat of Rosebud County is Forsyth, a community accredited with a population of 1,838, by the 1920 census report. Located forty-five miles west of Miles City, Forsyth is on the Northern Pacific and Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railways, and, as a Northern Pacific freight division point, is a trade center for the Yellowstone, Porcupine and Rosebud Valleys. It is a distributing point for an area 150 miles north and south and forty miles east and west, and gains importance through handling the product of a large wool country. Forsyth is a modern little city with three banks, two large, up-to-date hotels, two newspapers, three churches and thirty-two retail stores. Six miles to the east of Forsyth is the local sub-station of the Montana Agricultural Station, where recent experiments have proven that Turkey red wheat can be produced in bountiful quantities in this county.

Rosebud, the second largest town in the county, is the commercial center for the eastern part. Vananda, Sumatra and Ingomar are live towns in the northwestern part, the last-named being the headquarters of the sheep industry of Rosebud County and the site of a shearing plant which has a capacity of 6,000 head daily.

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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