Prominent landowner and state senator Edward Donlan won a political victory in the 1906 legislature with the designation of Thompson Falls as county seat for Sanders County over the rival town of Plains. By compromise, most county posts were filled…

A single female boarding house (an early twentieth-century euphemism for brothel) shared the block with the original jail in 1912. Set back from the street, the small ten-by-ten-foot wood-framed jail had only enough room for a single cell—which may…

The Granite County Jail was constructed in 1896, three years after Granite County was carved from two adjacent counties and Philipsburg made the county seat. The town served as hub to extensive area mining and, later, ranching. The jail was the…

The completion of the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul, and Pacific Railroad line through this area in 1908 brought an influx of homesteaders, increasing the demand for county services. Simultaneously, the Progressive Movement in Montana sparked a…

Ismay’s bustling business, wicked ways, and itinerant population of cowboys and railroad men earned it the nickname “Little Chicago.” This town, born with the construction of the Milwaukee Road across Montana, began in 1908 with the name of Burt.…

The Milwaukee Land Company laid out the neat, tree-lined streets of Square Butte in 1913. Strategically located along the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific’s route between Lewistown and Great Falls, Square Butte was for a time an important…

Lewis and Clark named nearby Belt Butte for its girdle of rocks and, in 1877, John Castner named his town Belt. Coal brought Castner here, and Fort Benton was the first market for his Castner Coal Company. Then, in 1889, the Boston and Montana…