Montana: (circa 1912). Twenty-nine silver gelatin photographs, twenty-seven on postcard mounts and two on plain photo paper, all approximately 5 ¼” x 3 ¼”. Seventeen photographs with manuscript captions on the verso. Some faint adhesive residue to some versos; overall very good.
An informative collection of images of a survey party for the Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie Railroad (or Soo Line) in various locations across northern Montana in the early 20th century. According to the manuscript captions, the traveling party shown here seems to have been most active in the northeastern part of the state in the counties of Dawson and Garfield. There are frequent mentions of the towns of Poplar and Jordan and a remote site along the Big Dry Creek. The compiler is never explicitly identified himself, but he does record several names which help to identify the purpose of the journey. One of the names is “Mr. Huss”; the September 12, 1912 issue of The Butte Miner mentions that “the Soo Line is actively engaged in locating three different lines into Montana for prospective extensions was made positively known today upon the visit to the city of George M. Huss, assistant chief engineer of the system. Mr. Huss is in direct charge of the work in this state and he said there were seven large locating parties at work in Montana and an eighth would probably be added […] One party, in charge of J.J. Hankinson, was recently put in the field at Cutbank and is now working north toward the Canadian boundary upon a line which is expected to cut through Teton County to this city.” Mr. Hankinson is also identified in the captions to the present photographs.
The photographs contain undoubtedly rare views of early Montana towns including a pair identified as “Old Geyser”, presumably the original site of the town of Geyser, which abandoned its original location to move closer to the railroad not long before the present images were produced. One of these photos is captioned “The town of Old Geyser Mont. It is deserted now. Barnes another of the locators is with me.” Other locations identified or mentioned in the captions include Vida, Sumatra, Whitetail, Williston, Alexandria, Glasgow, and Jordan, plus Woody Creek. The images are also notable for the inclusion of two very early touring cars – one identified as a Packard and the other a Buick.
Taken together, these evocative views of deeply rural Montana provide a unique glimpse into the work of an early 20th century railroad surveying crew active in the nascent years of white settlement and development in truly remote regions of the Treasure State. Item #74699