Two Montana Cities Part I Helena

  
Posted July 16, 2009 in Mining Camps & Cities
Helena, Looking South
Helena, Looking South

From Harpers New Monthly Magazine, 1888
By Edwards Roberts

The territory of Montana is in itself an empire. It was given Territorial rights in 1864, and since then has increases rapidly both in wealth and population. Fabulously rich in mines, already having an annual output of nearly $26,000,000, it is famous for it's vast areas of grazing land and becoming widely known as an agricultural country. With a total area of 93,000,000 acres of land, of which 16,000,000 are agricultural, 38,000,000 grazing, 12,000,000 timber, 5,000,000 mineral and 22,000,000 mountainous, it is the source of the Columbia and Missouri, and has an almost innumerable number of smaller streams, whose presence in the mountain canons and in the valleys give the Territory a charming picturesqueness. Within a distance of from twenty to forty miles of Helena are thousands of mining claims yet to be developed, anyone of which may prove as rich as the richest of those that are now productive. If the several agricultural valleys were places in a continuous line, they would form a belt 4000 miles long, and averaging from miles in width. Every year the number of farms increases. In the Gallatin, Prickly-Pear, Yellowstone, Bitter Root, Sun River and other valleys, one no longer sees neglected fields.

But if one were to write in detail of Montana and it's resources, he would find the task an arduous one. There are so many valleys, each with it's own claims and characteristics, so many mines and towns and districts, that a volume might be devoted to each. There is great and general buoyancy among the people, and local prejudice runs high.

Regarding Helena and Butte, however, there is almost a unanimity of feeling. The two places are looked upon as perfect illustrations of what has been accomplished in the Territory since the age of development began.

To the younger generation Helena is a Parisian-like center which he hopes in time to see. Capitalists may make their money at Butte or elsewhere, but are moderately sure to spend it at Helena; and the miner or ranchman is never so happy as when he finds himself in what, without question, is the metropolis of the Territory. I know of no city in the extreme middle west that could so well satisfy one who had learned to appreciate Western life as Helena. It's climate, its surroundings, even its society, largely composed of Eastern and college bred mean and young wives fresh from older centres, are delightfully prominent features. The city has a population of nearly 15,000 and considering its great wealth, it is not surprising that it should have electric lights, a horse-car line, and excellent schools.


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A mine is a hole in the ground, owned by a liar.
-Mark Twain

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