The picturesque mountain ranges and long, narrow valley of Mineral county were familiar to traders and trappers working out of Hudson's Bay company posts as early as 1830. During the early 50's Major John Owen made annual trips through the section on his way to The Dalles, in Oregon, to replenish his stock of goods and supplies at Fort Owen, some distance southeast.
In 1858 Lieutenant John Mullan organized an expedition, at The Dalles for the purpose of constructing a military road from Walla Walla to Fort Benton, but was forced to disband it on account of Indian hostilities. The following spring, however, he again organized and constructed the road over Coeur d'Alene mountains, going into winter quarters in present Mineral county.
Travlers over Mullan's road and prospectors brought in by discovery of gold on Cedar creek in 1869 opened the way for settlement of the region, and when the Northern Pacific railroad, a few years after completion of its transcontinental line, constructed a branch along Mullan's old route to the Coeur d'Alene mining district in Idaho, actual settlement and development of Mineral County began. Lumbering and mining were principal industries.
Early settlers included J.L. Dent, J. Slowey, W. Cameron, E.W. Park, C.A. Clark and A.P. Johnson, who were residents of the Superior community in the 80's. This community grew rapidly after construction of the railroad, 72 votes being cast in the precinct at the election of 1889.
The county was created from part of Missoula by petitiona nd election, and was organized August 7, 1914, with the seat of government at Superior. Lumbering nad mining continues to lead industrially, but dairying is developing and contributes substantially to the annual wealth output. The largest forest nursery in the world, capacity 3,000,000 seedlings annually, is near Haugan.
The assessment roll for 1930 lists 100,943 acres of farm and grazing land with improvements valued at $266,268. Timber land aggregating 49,574 acres is on the roll at $430,680 and property of public utility corporations at $8,021,000. Livestock includes 455 horses, 761 head of cattle and 365 sheep. The total value of all property is $9,703,474 and the taxable value is $3,648,572 under the classified property tax law.
The tax rate for county pruposes in 1930 was 26.26 mills on taxable values, and the average school rate was 19.82 mills. Taxes for all general pruposes averaged eight cents an acre on farm and grazing land, 50 cents on horses, 72 cents a head on cattle and 15 cents on sheep.
The net debt of the county was reduced from $136,121.88 to $66,646.99 during the seven years ended jUne 30, 1930 and the debt of school districts dropped from $95,243.00 to $17,603.21 The per capita net debt for county and school purposes is $51.81. Per capita wealth is approximately $1,500.
Census returns for 1930 credit the county with a population of 1,6526, ranking it 56th among counties of the state. Its area of 1,221 square miles ranks it 51st in size.
Mineral supports three high schools and 12 elementary schools employing 30 teachers. The combined enrollment is about 400.
["Montana Butte Standard", 5 Jul 1931, pg 28 - Transcribed by K.T.]
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