The town of Virginia City, Montana, was a major center of gold mining during the late 19th century. At its peak in the 1870s, the town had a population of over 10,000 and was the territorial capital of Montana. Today, Virginia City is a popular tourist destination and has been preserved as a living ghost town.
Stillwater County, located in Montana, has a rich and diverse history that spans centuries. The area which is now Stillwater County was originally inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Crow and Sioux. These tribes used the land for hunting and gathering, and their presence can still be felt through archaeological sites and artifacts discovered in the area.

In the 1800s, European settlers began to arrive in the region. The discovery of gold in nearby Cooke City in the 1860s led to a rush of prospectors heading to the area. While gold mining was initially the dominant industry, it gradually declined, and settlers shifted their focus to farming and ranching. The area's fertile soil and abundance of water made it ideal for agriculture, and many families established homesteads and began cultivating the land.

The establishment of the Northern Pacific Railway in the late 1800s brought further growth and development to Stillwater County. The railroad allowed for easier transportation of goods and people, leading to increased trade and commerce in the region. Towns such as Columbus, Absarokee, and Park City flourished as trade centers, offering supplies and services to the surrounding agricultural communities.

Throughout the 20th century, Stillwater County continued to thrive as an agricultural and mining region. While gold mining declined, other minerals such as coal and limestone were discovered, leading to the establishment of mines in the area. The county also became known for its production of wheat, barley, and other crops, as well as for its ranching industry.

Today, Stillwater County remains a vibrant and rural community with a diverse economy. Its rich history is celebrated and preserved through various museums and historical sites, offering visitors a glimpse into the area's past. From its Native American roots to its mining and agricultural heritage, the history of Stillwater County is woven into the fabric of its present-day identity.

This timeline provides a concise overview of the key events in the history of Stillwater County, Montana.

  • 1871 - Stillwater County was created on March 1, 1871.
  • Early 1880s - Homesteaders began settling in the area, attracted by the fertile land and abundance of water.
  • 1883 - The first post office opened in Stillwater County, named Absarokee.
  • 1888 - The Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad reached Stillwater County, bringing increased transportation and economic opportunities.
  • Early 1900s - Coal mining became a significant industry in the county, attracting workers and stimulating economic growth.
  • 1914 - The county seat was moved from Columbus to Columbus.
  • 1920s - Stillwater County experienced a boom in agricultural production, particularly wheat farming.
  • Mid-20th century - The construction of the Yellowtail Dam on the Bighorn River brought irrigation and hydroelectric power to the region.
  • 1980s - The growth of tourism and outdoor recreation became a prominent feature of the county's economy.
  • Present - Stillwater County continues to thrive as a combination of agricultural, industrial, and recreational activities contribute to its economy.