In 1882, W.F. McLeod drove a herd of 125 cattle and 200 horses into the Boulder Valley from Oregon. He was recognized as the first permanent homesteader in the valley, with the little town named after him. The Boulder Valley residents conducted their first election in 1884. On June 11, 1886, the McLeod Post Office was established with the mail coming in on horseback from Big Timber. In the spring of 1887, the first school started with five children.
Settlers moved into the valley, including Thomas Hawley, who assisted in the discovery of the valuable mineral deposits farther up the river valley. Prospecting had started in 1869, so by the spring of 1887, the mining operations had attracted considerable attention. A pack trail was cut through the timber and the Independence Mining Company took the first stamp mill up the mountain in 1888. Independence Mine was running full blast in ‘92 and ‘93, boasting a population of 500 or more persons. One long street with a few cabins, four saloons, and two general stores made up the town. All that remains of Independence and the other mining camps today are a few tumbled down log structures and the glory of this magnificent mountain valley. Hiking trails lead to hidden valleys and lakes where wildlife such as moose, bear, elk and the many small animals make their home.
The little town of McLeod has a school, post office, cabins, camping, and the infamous Road Kill Cafe. Take a drive south to one of the most beautiful mountain valleys in Montana. Enjoy the peaceful surroundings of the valley, fish in the pristine waters of the Boulder River, and picnic at the Natural Bridge and Falls.
Reprinted from Sweetgrass Chamber information sheet.