Historical Notes - Week of November 16th

The Helena Independent, November 17th, 1889 (abridged)

The New Wonderland-Cook City and its Neighborhood a Land of Promise, of Gold and Silver-The Advent of the Iron Horse Necessary for their Development-Suggestions for Congressmen to Consider Where the Park Boundary Should be Located

It has been shown in these articles that there are at Cooke City and in its immediate neighborhood numerous mines which have yielded and will continue to yield vast quantities of the ores of gold, silver, lead, copper and iron, suitable for smelting….But there is one difficulty in the way of the profitable working of these mines---the great cost of transportation… the cost of transportation takes too large a per cent of its value for profitable results…..The discoverers and owners of the Cook City mines belong to the true pioneer class of Americans, who have civilized the Mississippi valley and developed its vast agricultural resources, and who have opened the mines of the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific slope in the face of the most daring hostile tribes, thousands of miles away from the nearest supplies of food and clothing and mining implements and the protection they might need from their government…These pioneer miners and their helpers, full of enterprise and manhood, and quick to learn, are now masters of the situation at Cooke City…They believe in their mines and are determined to hold them and wait for the railroads, which alone can give them cheap transportation and make their smelting ores profitable…When Cooke City has a railroad which will furnish cheap freights she will furnish the bullion to keep trains in constant motion on to eastern markets for the next hundred years. These idle mines and cold furnaces will be aglow with vital energy. A thousand miners will take the ore from a hundred mines, and the furnaces will pour out glowing streams of golden bullion.

But how shall the railroad come? Men are ready and have been ready for years to build, but their chosen route has been blocked by congress.

The way up the Yellowstone and Soda Butte creek is the natural route. But some congressmen have been inspired with sentimental notions that such a road will destroy the symmetry and the wonders of the park…Artists tell us there is very little beauty in rectilinear boundaries. But if the named streams above Gardiner be made the boundary, the artistic taste of all tourists will be cultivated and gratified by endless curves and lanes of beauty…The tourists would then be able to see the greatest wonder in this Wonderland, and men who has made the great west.

Four routes have been proposed. One by Gardiner and the Yellowstone and Soda Butte creek, one by the Stillwater, one by Rocky Fork, and one by Clark’s Fork. Let it come by either route, thousands of miners will be made happy and prospectively rich by the snort of the iron horse with his lungs full of steam.

As it is expected that every one who passes through the park even to Cooke City will say something about the “wonders” he saw on the route and what will be lost to this “wonderland” by the proposed railroad to Cooke City, I will follow suit and tell of what I saw, which will be lost by the railroad up the Yellowstone…But all of these wonders will remain even should the railroad pass up Soda Butte Creek…How then can a congressman refrain from so changing the boundaries of the National Park as to let the railroad pass up the Yellowstone and Soda Butte to the great mining camp of Cooke City.

G.C. Swallow


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Cooke City Montana Museum

206 W. Main Street

P.O. Box 1134

Cooke City, MT 59020

Museum Director: Kelly Hartman

Telephone : 406-838-2203 

Email : cookecitymontanamuseum@gmail.com