Gallatin County, containing 10,000 square miles, was divided between the two valleys of the Gallatin and Yellowstone Rivers, and the Belt and Snowy ranges of mountains. The three forks of the Missouri met within its boundaries, making a remarkable and beautiful combination of river and meadow scenery with bench land and mountains. The basin formed by the Gallatin Valley, from the earliest settlement of eastern Montana, has been a favorite resort for home seekers with agricultural tastes.
From its lesser altitude it is more generally productive than the country to the west, and became more thickly settled, having a population of 3,500 at the census of 1880. It produced 1,000,000 bushels of grain in a season, with other vegetable products in proportion. Farm machinery of the best models was employed. Six flouring-mill converted wheat into flour. The first flour made for market in eastern Montana was in 1866, at the Gallatin Mills of Cover & McAdow of Bozeman. Virginia and Helena Post, Oct. 23, 1866.
Like every part of Montana, it was also a good grazing country, and supported large herd, upon its native grasses. In 1878 there were 45,000 cattle, 8,000 horses, and 10,000 sheep on the ranges. There were marketed 5,000 cattle, 100,000 pounds of butter and cheese, besides a large amount of wool.
The taxable property of the county was valued at $1,386,340 in 1878. The stock alone of Gallatin County in 1882 was valued by the assessor at $1,225,800. In 1884, the assessed valuation of the county was $6,255,910.
Bozeman, the county seat, was founded in July 1864 by J. M. Bozeman, the pioneer of the Bozeman route to the North Platte. It had a line situation at the foot of the Belt range on the west, and a population in 1884 of 2,500, whose substantial residences attested the prosperity of the inhabitants, and whose water works were an evidence of their enterprise.
Its public school building was the finest in Montana, costing $18,000, and its churches, library association, courthouse, Masonic Temple, hotels, and other public buildings were all witnesses of the progressive character of the people. The Gallatin Valley Female Seminary, under the charge of L. B. Crittenden of the Presbyterian Church, is deserving of mention. Previous to the opening of the Northern Pacific railroad a line of coaches connected it with the capital, and another line with the Utah Northern, via Virginia City. Its nearness to the national park, as well as many other points of scenic interest, renders Bozeman a well-known and popular resort of tourists. The weekly Avant-Courier was the early local journal.
The noted Emigrant Hot Springs, yielding 10,000 barrels of hot water daily, are situated 4 miles from Findlay station. The Apollinaris springs are situated 10 miles from Riverside station, on the branch rail to the national park.
The other early settlements of Gallatin County were Allny’s Ranch, Benson’s Landing, Benson’s Store, Big Timber, Bottler’s Ranch, Bridger Creek, Cattish Hotel, Central Park, Cooke, Cowans, Daw’s Store, Doruix, Eagle Nest. East Gallatin, Elliston, Elton, Emigrant, Emigrant gulch, Fort Ellis, Gallatin City, Gardiner, Hamilton, Havana, Hayden, Hillsdale, Keiser’s Creek, Livingston, Madison, Mammoth Hot Springs, Meadow Ranch, Melville, Middletown, Mission, Penwells, Reedpoint, Richland, Riverside, Salesville, Shields, Shields’ River, Springdale, Spring Hill, Sweet Grass. Three Forks, Trout Rapids, Tucker’s Post, White Beaver, White Beaver Creek, Willow Creek, Windville, and Yellowstone City.