Silver Bow County, cut off from Deer Lodge in 1881, had a small area, but a population of 14,000, and is richer, in proportion to its size, than any county in Montana, its assessed valuation in 1884 being $7,240,000.
It was first settled in June 1804 by placer miners. Ten years of digging and washing exhausted the deposits, or so nearly that only 300 inhabitants remained. Quart-mining was begun in 1875. The county contained in 1885 19 mills, concentrato’s, and furnaces, which give employment to 3,000 miners.
Butte, the county seat, was the second town in Montana. It had an altitude of 5,800 feet, and is the center of one of the richest silver and copper districts in the world.
Population in 1885 10,000, with 3 banks, the eldest being; that of Clarke & Larabie, the others Hege, Brownlee & Co., and the First National, their deposits aggregating $3,000,000. It had school property valued at $40,000, supporting a corps of 21 teachers; besides 7 churches, 4 hospitals, 2 fire companies, 2 newspapers, a courthouse which cost $150,000, an opera-house costing $50,000, water, gas, and electric light companies, and the usual number of secret societies. The receipts on freights, incoming and outgoing, were over $6,000,000 per annum, consisting chiefly of outgoing ore.
Buxton, Divide, Feely, French gulch, Grace, Gunderson, Lavell, Melrose, Mount Horeb, Norwood, Red Mountain, Walkerville, and Silver Bow are the other settlements in the county.