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Because of the deep ravines, dense forests and the steep mountains that characterize this area, the southern loop of the Kootenai was known as the Montana Wilds. Its ruggedness along with the fear of Indians kept it unsettled until gold was discovered in the mid 1860s. But not until the Great Northern railroad established a freight division on the current townsite, did it really begin to flourish.

As construction crews filled the area, the town gained a reputation for rowdiness. One settler recalled, fifteen saloons gaily lit were filled to the doors with wild men and wild women yelling, singing, dancing, cursing with glasses lifted high. In fact, the reputation for lawlessness in the settlement was so profound, trains locked their doors as they rolled through town to avoid holdups.

In 1910, the great forest fires that raged through the area almost claimed the town. Railroad hoses soaked the downtown buildings while a locomotive was kept steamed up ready to evacuate the remaining residents and crews should the fire overtake them. A little luck and a shift in the wind saved the town.

The town sits within walking distance of the Idaho border and the line which divides the Mountain Standard Time Zone from the Pacific Standard Time Zone. It has the distinction of being the town with the lowest elevation in Montana at only 1,889 feet above sea level.

There is some disagreement over how Troy got its name. Some say it took its name for a civil engineer working for the Great Northern. Others think the town was named for the Troy weight system, which was used to weigh silver and gold. Still others say that E.L. Preston named the town for Troy Morrow, the son of a family that was providing him with room and board while he surveyed the area for track and laid out the townsite. It is this latter theory that is most accepted..

Excerpted from "The Ultimate Montana Atlas and Travel Encyclopedia".

Kootenai River
From a historical marker near Troy

The river is named for the Kootenai tribe that lived and hunted in this part of Montana and adjoining territory in Idaho and Canada. They were settled south of Flathead Lake in 1855 with the Salish on the Flathead Reservation.

They were friendly with neighboring mountain tribes but suffered frequently from the incursions of their bitter enemies, the Blackfeet, who came across the Continental Divide from the plains on horsestealing and scalp-raising expeditions.

First white men in here were trappers and traders for British fur companies as early as 1809. Placer discoveries were made and mining operations commenced about sixty years later.

Excerpted from "The Ultimate Montana Atlas and Travel Encyclopedia".

On This Date in Montana: October 31, 1987

Near the Bozeman Pass, three Burlington Northern locomotives derail after they were cut loose from a train in Livingston. The engines careened driverless through the mountains reaching speeds in excess of 80 miles per hour before leaving the track. A transient riding in one of the cars is injured. Mysteriously, the incident happens immediately after a judge orders the end of a strike by railroad workers. On that same day, Missoula billionaire Dennis Washington purchases a portion of the Burlington Northern and names it Montana Rail Link.

Excerpted from "The Ultimate Montana Atlas and Travel Encyclopedia".

Copyright © 2003 Michael Dougherty. Use of this material for radio and television programs, printed media, webcasting, and any other source of mass dissemination is prohibited without permission of the publisher.

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