Historical Note - Week of April 19th

Choteau Montanan, April 23, 1920

In Cooke City, just off the northeast corner of the Yellowstone national park primitive conditions have existed always, and probably will continue to exist until the camp gets connected by rail with civilization. This seemingly is a long way off, as the only way to get into the section with a railroad is by using part of the national park for a route. This the federal government does not care to allow.

Among the other primitive conditions may be mentioned the water supply. Every house has a covered well in front of the place. Natural seepage supplies the water for the well, and it is of first class quality, for cooking, washing or even drinking.

Judge Potter was another of Cooke City’s primitive conditions not so many years ago. He was the only justice of the peace for several hundred miles around, and enjoyed a monopoly of what little business there was in his line.

Like everyone else in Cooke City, the judge had a well in front of his office, which also served as his residence. He had very little use for the well except for washing and cooking purposes. It was before the days of prohibition, and there were other things that appealed to him as beverages more than did the water from his well.

One day a party of mining engineers and local prospectors, returning from a long, tiresome surveying trip, proceeded to quench a thirst in a saloon next to the judge’s office. As they were about to enter they saw the judge hurry out of his door, with a bucket in hand, and hastily raise the cover over his well.

“Come join us, judge,” cried one of the party.

The judge set his bucket down and joined them.

There were several rounds of drinks, everyone, the judge included, “set ‘em up.”

Then the bartender, as the custom of the country was, set up the drinks “on the house,” and started the endless chain again.

When the judge’s turn came around he put his change in his pocket and started out.

“You’ll have to excuse me, boys,” he said. “My house was on fire when you called me. Guess I’d better go look after it.”

The boys helped him put out the fire on what was left of his house, after which the suspended business was resumed.

Cooke City Scene 5 edited.jpg


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