Place:Great Falls, Cascade, Montana, United States


NameGreat Falls
Coordinates47.504°N 111.286°W
Located inCascade, Montana, United States     (1883 - )
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Great Falls is a city in and the county seat of Cascade County, Montana, United States. The 2017 census estimate put the population at 58,638. The population was 58,505 at the 2010 census. It is the principal city of the Great Falls, Montana Metropolitan Statistical Area, which encompasses all of Cascade County and has a population of 82,278. Great Falls was the largest city in Montana from 1950 to 1970, when Billings surpassed it. Great Falls remained the second largest city in Montana until 2000, when it was passed by Missoula. Since then Great Falls has been the third largest city in the state.

Great Falls takes its name from the series of five waterfalls in close proximity along the upper Missouri River basin that the Lewis and Clark Expedition had to portage around over a ten-mile stretch; the effort required 31 days of arduous labor during the westward leg of their 1805–06 exploration of the Louisiana Purchase and to the Pacific Northwest Coast of the Oregon Country. Each falls sports a hydroelectric dam today, hence Great Falls is nicknamed "the Electric City". Currently there are two undeveloped parts of their portage route; these are included within the Great Falls Portage, a National Historic Landmark.

The city is home to the C. M. Russell Museum Complex, the University of Providence, Great Falls College Montana State University, Giant Springs, the Roe River (claimed to be the world's shortest river), the Montana School for the Deaf and the Blind, the Great Falls Voyagers minor league baseball team, and is adjacent to Malmstrom Air Force Base. The local newspaper is the Great Falls Tribune.



the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

The first human beings to live in the Great Falls area were Paleo-Indians who migrated into the region between 9,500 BCE and 8,270 BCE.[1] The earliest inhabitants of North America entered Montana east of the Continental Divide between the mountains and the Laurentide ice sheet. The area remained only sparsely inhabited, however. Salish Indians would often hunt bison in the region on a seasonal basis, but no permanent settlements existed at or near Great Falls for much of prehistory.[2] Around 1600, Piegan Blackfeet Indians, migrating west, entered the area, pushing the Salish back into the Rocky Mountains and claiming the site now known as Great Falls as their own.[2] The Great Falls location remained the tribal territory of the Blackfeet until long after the United States claimed the region in 1803.

Meriwether Lewis was the first white person to visit the area, which he did on June 13, 1805, as part of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. York, an African American slave owned by William Clark and who had participated in the Expedition, was the first black American to visit the site of the future city.

Following the return passage of Lewis and Clark in 1806, there is no record of any white person visiting the site of the city of Great Falls until explorer and trapper Jim Bridger reached the area in 1822.[3] Bridger and Major Andrew Henry led a fur-trading expedition to the future city location in April 1823 (and were attacked by Blackfeet Indians while camping at the site). British explorer Alexander Ross trapped around Great Falls in 1824. In 1838, a mapping expedition sent by the U.S. federal government and guided by Bridger spent four years in the area.[3] Margaret Harkness Woodman became the first white woman to visit the Great Falls area in 1862.

The Great Falls of the Missouri River marked the limit of the navigable section of the Missouri River for non-portagable watercraft, and the non-navigability of the falls was noted by the U.S. Supreme Court in its 2012 ruling against the State of Montana on the question of streambed ownership beneath several dams situated at the site of the falls. The first steamboat arrived at future site of the city in 1859.

Politically, the future site of Great Falls passed through numerous hands in the 19th century. It was part of the unincorporated frontier until May 30, 1854, when Congress established the Nebraska Territory. Indian attacks on white explorers and settlers dropped significantly after Isaac Stevens negotiated the Treaty of Hellgate in 1855, and white settlement in the area began to occur.[3] On March 2, 1861, the site became part of the Dakota Territory. The Great Falls area was incorporated into the Idaho Territory on March 4, 1863, and then into the Montana Territory on May 28, 1864.[2] It became part of the state of Montana upon that territory's admission to statehood on November 8, 1889.[2]

Founding and industrial significance

Great Falls was founded in 1883. Businessman Paris Gibson visited the Great Falls of the Missouri River in 1880, and was deeply impressed by the possibilities for building a major industrial city near the falls with power provided by hydroelectricity.[4] He returned in 1883 with friend Robert Vaughn and some surveyors and platted a permanent settlement the south side of the river.[3][5][6] The city's first citizen, Silas Beachley, arrived later that year.[3] With investments from railroad owner James J. Hill and Helena businessman Charles Arthur Broadwater, houses, a store, and a flour mill were established in 1884.[3][5][6][7] The Great Falls post office was established on July 10, 1884, and Paris Gibson was named the first postmaster. A planing mill, lumber yard, bank, school, and newspaper were established in 1885.[5][7] By 1887 the town had 1,200 citizens, and in October of that year the Great Northern Railway arrived in the city.[5][4][7] Great Falls was incorporated on November 28, 1888.

Great Falls quickly became a thriving industrial and supply center. In 1894, naturalist Vernon Bailey passed through and described Great Falls as "a very good town, appears prosperous and booming & I should judge contains 15000 inhabitants." By the early 1900s, Great Falls was en route to becoming one of Montana's largest cities. The rustic studio of famed Western artist Charles Marion Russell was a popular attraction, as were the famed "Great Falls of the Missouri", after which the city was named.

Railroad and hydro power expansion

James Jerome Hill, primary stockholder and president of the Great Northern Railway (U.S.) had established a subsidiary, the Montana Central Railway, on January 25, 1886. The mines in Butte were eager to get its metals to market, gold and silver had been discovered near Helena, and coal companies in Canada were eager to get their fuel to Montana's smelters. Hill's close friend and business associate, Paris Gibson, was promoting Great Falls as a site for the development of cheap hydroelectricity and heavy industry. Hill was building the Great Northern across the northern tier of Montana, and it made sense to build a north-south railroad through central Montana to connect Great Falls with Helena and Butte. Surveyors and engineers had begun grading a route between Helena and Great Falls in the winter of 1885–1886, and by the end of 1886 had surveyed a route from Helena to Butte. Construction on the Great Northern's line westward began in late 1886, and on October 16, 1887, the link between Devils Lake, North Dakota; Fort Assinniboine (near the present-day city of Havre); and Great Falls was complete. Service to Helena began in November 1887, and Butte followed on November 10, 1888.

Hill organized the Great Falls Water Power & Townsite Company in 1887, with the goal of developing the town of Great Falls; providing it with power, sewage, and water; and attracting commerce and industry to the city. To attract industry to the new city, he offered low rates on the Montana Central Railway. On September 12, 1889, the Boston and Montana ("B & M") signed an agreement with Great Falls Water Power & Townsite Company in which the power company agreed to build a dam that would supply the mining firm with at least 1,000 horsepower (or 0.75 MW) of power by September 1, 1890, and 5,000 horsepower (or 3.73 MW) of power by January 1, 1891. In exchange, B & M agreed to build a $300,000 copper smelter near the dam. Black Eagle Dam began generating electricity in December 1890. Water was permitted to flow over the crest of the dam on January 6, 1891, and the dam was considered complete on March 15, 1891. By 1912 Rainbow Dam and Volta Dam (now Ryan Dam) were all operating.[3][5][7] Morony Dam was built in 1930 and Cochrane Dam in 1957-58.

Smelting Operations

On April 7, 1908, construction began on a masonry/brick chimney measuring tall on the B & M's – now the city's largest employer – smelting site at Black Eagle, Montana, by the Alphonse Custodis Construction Co. of New York, for dispersal of fumes from B & M's copper smelting process. The B & M would soon merge with the Amalgamated Copper Company and become the Anaconda Copper Mining Company or "ACM". The B & M smelter stack was completed in on October 23, 1908. The chimney had an interior measurement of in diameter at the base and in diameter at the top. At the time of its completion it was the tallest chimney in the world (see List of tallest chimneys). With the moniker "The Big Stack", it immediately became a landmark for the community, but after over 70 years of operation the smelter closed in 1980.

The Big Stack's 'sister' stack in Anaconda, also of masonry/brick construction, completed in 1919, and slightly taller at , was beginning to suffer from cracking and the ACM decided to remove the support bands from the upper half of the Big Stack in 1976 and send them to Anaconda. This action proved to be the Big Stack's ultimate demise since the cracks it was also suffering from rapidly worsened such that the ACM, citing concern for public safety (due to the stack's continual deterioration of its structural integrity), slated the Big Stack's demolition for September 18, 1982. In an interesting twist of fate the demolition crew failed to accomplish the task on the first try; the two worst cracks in the stack ran from just above ground level to nearly 300 feet up. The demolition team's intent was to create a wedge in the base so the stack's rubble would fall almost vertically into a large trench, but as the 600 lbs of explosives were set off the cracks 'completed themselves' all the way to the ground—effectively severing the stack into two-thirds and one-third pieces. Much to the delight of the spectating community, the smaller of the two pieces remained standing, but the failed demolition only solidified the safety issue whereas the community cited the event as the stack's defiance. The demolition team who had planted the charges was recalled and later the same afternoon they returned and finished the demolition, after packing another 400 lbs of explosives into the smaller wedge.

During World War II the Northwest Staging Route passed through the city on which planes were delivered to the USSR according to the Lend-Lease program. Great Falls prospered further with the opening of a nearby military base in the 1940s, but as rail transportation and freight slowed in the later part of the century, outlying farming areas lost population, and with the closure of the smelter and cutbacks at Malmstrom Air Force Base in the 1980s, its population growth slowed.

The economy of Great Falls has suffered from the decline of heartland industry in recent years much like other cities in the Great Plains and Midwest.

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