Wheatland County, Montana 1921

Wheatland County is situated in the central part of Montana and is almost square in shape, measuring thirty-six miles north and south by forty miles east and west. Its land area is 1,411 square miles. It was created April I, 1917, from parts of Meagher and Sweet Grass counties, and in 1920 its population was 5,619. Its northern boundary follows for some distance the crest of the Little Belt range of mountains and the Big Snowy Mountains jut over on the remainder of the boundary. The land surface of that part of the county, therefore, is rough and broken, a condition which is also present in the western part. These mountainous districts are devoted chiefly to cattle and sheep raising. The soil in the farming districts is for the most part a chocolate loam.

Wheatland County is one of the best in the state for non-irrigated farming, the lands for that purpose selling from $20 to $70 an acre when improved. Wheat, both winter and spring, is the chief crop raised, though barley, oats and flax are also produced in considerable quantities. The irrigated districts are located chiefly in the valley of the Musselshell River, which flows through the county from west to east and is fed by numerous tributaries from the mountains. These districts produce considerable hay, both native and alfalfa. The irrigated lands fetch from $75 to $125 an acre. There are 6,809 acres of the Absarokee National Forest included within Wheatland County and 57,040 of the Jefferson National Forest. As to mineral resources, lignite has been found and prospecting for oil is now under way.

The main line of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway passes through Wheatland County east and west, and has a branch running northward from Harlowton to Lewistown and Great Falls. The main line is paralleled by the Electric Highway. The northeastern part of the county is traversed by the Great Northern line from Billings to Great Falls that is used by the Burlington to the coast.

Harlowton, above referred to, is both the county seat and the principal town. It is a division point on the Milwaukee road and the terminus on the east of the electrified portion of the road. Large flour mills are located here which gives the town rank among the three largest milling centers in the state. It is well provided with modern conveniences, including electric lights, sewage and water systems. Its high school, accredited for the four-year course, also provides a course in agriculture under the provisions of the Smith-Hughes Act. It has also good graded schools.

Other towns on the main line of the Milwaukee are Two Dot, Valencia, Winnecook, Shawmut and Pontiac; on the Milwaukee branch northward, Oka and Wright, and on the Great Northern, Judith Gap, Oxford, Nihill and Hedgesville. The last mentioned place has a high school accredited for the two-year course. Good rural schools are found throughout the county.

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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