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Montana History

Satisfactory Essays
Montana History

Assuredly, mining played a significant role in Montana's history. With the

discovery of gold in several different gulches came boom towns across the state. As

population started to increase people thought it should become its own territory and it did

in 1864. Twenty five years later it became a state. Alder Gulch, Confederate Gulch, and

Last Chance Gulch are clearly the gold strikes that contributed to Montana becoming a

territory and eventually a state.

Alder Gulch was founded in 1863 by Bill Fairweather and Henry Edgar. The

party from Idaho also included Barney Hughes, Tim Cover, Henry Rodgers, and Bill

Sweeney. They were going to the Yellowstone Valley to find gold until they came across

some unfriendly Crow Indians so returned to Bannack. That night while waiting for

dinner Bill Fairweather went down to the creek to pan for gold. His first panning brought

out "$5.10 worth of gold." (Fogarty 130.) News of the find spread quickly to Bannack.

The slogan that was heard around town was "five dollars to the pan and shallow

diggings." (Fogarty 131.) It was undoubtedly the richest gold strike in Montana yielding

over 40 million dollars. Alder Gulch is located between Virginia City, which was once

the capital, and Nevada City. By the 1870's most of the gold had been extracted. A

company led by Gordon McKay and other Boston investors came into the gulch and dug

out the low-grade gold. Consequently, the gulch was basically dead.

Confederate Gulch was founded in the summer of 1864. The town that was built

around the gulch was called Diamond City, which is located 30 miles east of Helena in

the Big Belt Mountains. The placer fields here were much richer then Alder Gulch but

not as many in number. It was a hard gulch to work because the bedrock was deep, in

addition water was limited and boulders were immense. Thus the miners turned their

attention to other areas.

Last Chance Gulch was founded in July 14, 1864 in present day Helena. Over 19

million dollars was taken out of the gulch. There were many different parties that

searched for gold in the gulch and certainly the most important of all was the one led by

John Cowan. His party had an unsuccessful year. Starting in Kottenais country they had
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