Montague, Montana

The Carter family started this town, when Fred and his family arrived in 1910 from Richmond , Kansas .  That summer the family drove a wagon to the Highwood Mountains to look over the homestead land that was available.  Fred proclaimed to his family that someday a town and railroad would be located at the site they had chosen for their home.  Four years later that became true.  Many of the Carter’s family and friends from Kansas came to make homes on this new land.  Montague was supposedly named after the town in Massachusetts . It is located sixteen miles southeast of Fort Benton, on Hwy 80, and then south on  Montague Rd. a couple of miles.

In 1914 the Milwaukee railroad arrived, a school was built, and a store opened in Montague.  The town became quite prosperous for a few years with many buildings going up, including a bank, hotel, post office, stores, and shops. 

In 1922 there were 125 children in school and 25 in high school.  Most of the families in the area were homestead farmers with their 320 acres of farmland.    Wheat, peas, hay, other grains, cattle, and sheep have been produced over the years. 

In about 1923 people started leaving Montague.  The bank went broke in 1926.  In the 1930’s many of the abandoned buildings were moved to local ranches for other uses.  In 1929 the Montague Women’s Club purchased the tax deed for the old school and dance hall.  The Women’s Club dissolved in 1942 and the building was sold.  The town remained a water stop for the railroad’s steam engines for many years and the grain elevator continued in operation up to 1972.

Today the railroad is gone with very little evidence of its existence.  Gone, too, are the elevators.  Just a few of the old homes are present along with the old Montague School that is in a dilapidated condition.  The town land is now under the operation of the 9,000 acre Lost Lake Ranch which raises Angus cattle and grain crops, including wheat, peas, and hay.  I talked with one of the workers on the ranch.  The day that Doris and I were there, it was cloudy and rainy.  The soil seems to be fertile but the last few years have seen little rain and the crops have been poor.

The area has rural mail service from Fort Benton that has a zip code of 59942.  All goods and services must come from Fort Benton or Geraldine, about ten miles to the southeast.  While visiting the area I managed to find an old tie plate and a couple spikes from the long gone railroad.

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Saturday, May 30, 2015 08:27:38 PM
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Larry E. Montague
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