The discovery of silver in 1879 in Galena Creek southwest of here created a real transportation challenge for the miners of the early 1880's - how to bring in mining supplies and how to haul their precious ore out to distant railroads and markets.
Transportation in the Little Belts
At first, the "truck drivers" of the 1880's, known as freighters or "bull whackers" used large teams of oxen, mules or horses to haul supplies from nearby Ft. Benton, the uppermost reach of steamboats on the Missouri River. This was slow and the roads of sticky gumbo clay were terrible when wet.
In 1890 the Montana Central Railroad was extended from Great Falls to Monarch, and a year later to Neihart to transport ore. A new silver smelter in Great Falls began receiving ore shipments from these mountains in 1897.
During its 55 years of existence the train and track carried not just supplies and ordinary passengers, but also campers, fishermen, fish, and partygoers.