The Prickly Pear Diggings Historical Marker

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Jefferson City ,Helena Area

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Historical Markers/Interpretive SignHistoric Sites
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Location: N. of Jefferson City on I-15

The Fisk or Northern Overland Expedition camped on the future site of Montana City just east of the highway in September 1862. The outfit consisting of 125 emigrants had left St. Paul June 16, 1862, under the leadership of Capt. James L. Fisk for the purpose of opening a wagon route to connect at Ft. Benton with the eastern terminal of the Mullan Road from Walla Walla.

They found “Gold Tom,” one of Montana’s first prospectors, holed up in a tepee near here scratching gravel along Prickly Pear Creek in a search for the rainbow’s end. The few colors he was panning out wouldn’t have made much of a dent in the national debt, but about half of the Fisk outfit got the gold fever and decided to winter here.

Montana City swaggered into existence in September 1864 as a roaring mining town that is only a memory now. Today it is a suburb of metropolitan Helena.

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