This town was founded in 1885 and named for an early Indian Reservation Superintendent, Major Peter Ronan. Ronan served for 16 years as an honest and compassionate administrator until his death in 1892.
At the time of his death, he was the oldest commissioned Indian Agent in service. He was also known for his book on the history of the Flathead Indians. The area boomed when the area, which was once part of the Flathead Reservation, was opened to settlement in 1910, and thousands of small farms and ranches were established on the irrigated land.
In 1912, a fire broke out in an automobile garage. A windstorm caused the fire to spread rapidly to the other businesses in the downtown area. By the time the firemen rolled into action, half the town was in flames. By the time it was over, most of the business district and the flour mill lay in ruins.