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Cooke City, Montana

July of 1870 marks the first record of the discovery of gold by a rugged group of prospectors that included Horne Miller, Ed Hibbard, J.H. Moore, A.B. Henderson and James Gurley. Development was hindered because the area was part of the Crow Indian Reservation. In April of 1882 the reservation boundaries were released and the mountains were opened up to the awaiting prospectors. This mineral rich area was now known as the New World Mining District. The high elevation and lack of roads in this rugged terrain hampered the already short mining season.

Prior to 1882 Cooke City was simply known as the Miners Camp, Clarks Fork City, and Galena City. Many of the miners had wanted the name Edelweiss. Jay Cooke Jr. was a Pacific Railroad contractor and the son of an investor in the Northern Pacific Railroad. He was promoting the promise of development and the much needed railroad to this mountain hamlet. As history records, the railroad never came. On Feb.1, 1882 the town was officially deemed Cooke City, Montana Territory in his honor.

Like most western mining towns, the population changed with the flow of mining development and failures. The town site was platted by 1883. The population consisted of 227 voters who gave lively support to the two smelters, two sawmills, three general stores, two hotels, two livery stables and the local meat market.

Present day Cooke City, Montana boasts of approximately 100 hardy citizens who play host to the winter wonderland sports of snowmobiling, tour skiing and winter photography. The summer season welcomes the three hundred or so summer residents. Cooke City is bordered by Custer, Shoshone and Gallatin National Forests. The many streams and high country lakes are enjoyed by fisherman, campers and hikers. Bear, moose, elk and deer make their home in this pristine landscape.

When traveling to Cooke City from the northeast, one can enjoy the stunning Bearthooth Mountain Range with alpine elevations of 12,000 ft. To the east is the beautiful Chief Joseph Scenic Highway. Four miles west is the northeast entrance to Yellowstone National Park. The ancient Bannock Indian Trail is in close proximity. Old miner's cabins and the remains of hopeful mining claims sit silent on the northern mountain range. Information provided by the Cooke City Chamber.

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