Dawson County, owing to Indian wars and other causes, remained unorganized down to a late period, and although having an area of 32,000 square miles, and good stock ranges, contained in 1880 only about 200 inhabitants. It occupied the northwestern portion of Montana, and was divided by the Missouri River, and crossed by the Yellowstone, Musselshell, and Milk Rivers.
Its assessable property in 1884 was about $2,500,000. Glendive, the principal town, was founded in 1881, and named by Lewis Merrill after Glendive creek, which received its name from Sir George Gore, who wintered in Montana in 1856. It was the first point where the Northern Pacific railroad touched the Yellowstone, and the terminus of the Missouri division. It occupied a sloping plain facing the river on the south bank, and was sheltered from the winds by an abrupt range of clay buttes, resembling these of the Bad Lands, 300 feet in height, and half a mile distant.
The soil about Glendive, the altitude of which is 2,070 feet above sea level, was a rich sandy loam, and produced plentifully of grains and vegetables. The railroad company made extensive and substantial improvements, and the town soon had 1,500 inhabitants, a bank, schools, churches, hotels, and a weekly newspaper.
The settlements early made in Dawson county were Allard, Cantonment, Fort Galpin, Fort Kipp, Fort Peck, Gray’s Wood-yard, Hodges, Iron Bluff, McClellan, Milton, Newlon, Old Fort Charles, Old Fort Union, Stockade, Trading Post, and Wolf Point.