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 establishes 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 hold-ups.
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 from 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.