Chinook was named after the Indian word for the winds that often whisk through this area during January and February causing temperatures to rise as much as 70 degrees in only a few hours.
Charles Russell captured the impact of these winds on cattlemen on the range in his painting of a starving cow entitled? Waiting for a Chinook.? Many cattle have been spared by the merciful chinook winds that melt snow and expose grass for grazing.
The county seat of Blaine County is a small, rural, community located on the Milk River in north-central Montana. Originally, it was founded on the south side of the river but relocated on the north side of the Milk bringing it closer to the Great Northern Railroad.
The Chinook area offers one of the most historic regions of the state. Seventeen miles south is the site of the last Indian battle in the United States. The Bear’s Paw Battlefield, the very spot where a major encounter between the U.S. Cavalry and the American Indian began in September of 1877 and ended on October 5, 1877. Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce surrendered to Colonel Miles with the infamous words: “From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever”.
The topography of Chinook and the surrounding Blaine County is as diverse as its agriculture, gas, and oil industries. From the Milk River Valley, which divides Blaine County from east to west, rolling plains of grain fields and cattle pasture stretch north to the Canadian border. To the south dryland grain farming reaches to meet the Bear Paw Mountains where cattle and sheep are raised, and on to the rugged breaks of the Missouri River, Blaine County’s southern border. Irrigated farms fill the narrow Milk River Valley. The oil and gas industry is evidenced by the presence of Northern Natural Gas Co. as well as Ronco and other oil companies.
Recreational opportunities in Chinook are limited to the extent of one’s imagination. Antelope, deer, waterfowl, and upland game bird hunting are unmatched anywhere. Bighorn sheep and elk roam the Missouri Breaks area. Also, for the fishing enthusiast, nearby reservoirs are filled with everything from trout to the crafty walleye.
Source: Chinook Chamber of Commerce brochure