The City of Great Falls, Mon.
When Horace GREELY ‘said, “Go West, young man, go West,” the West was almost an unbroken wilderness, and little did he dream of the vastness of the country to which he was advising the young men to go. Although Montana has been a State but three years, she is rapidly coming to the front as one of the richest States in the Union. Her output of gold, silver and copper already exceeds that of any other State in the Union and still mining is only in its infancy. There are hundreds of thousands of acres of rich mineral-bearing land, that has scarcely had the prospector’s pick struck into it, and there are thousands of acres more that have been thoroughly prospected and proven to contain very rich veins of precious minerals, none of which are being worked because there are as yet no railroads near enough to ship away the products of the mines, nor ship in supplies to miners.
T he rapid development of Montana in the past few years and the large influx of people from all parts of the country, has been the means of building up cities where but a few years ago the Indian and the buffalo were the sole inhabitants. Among the cities that have sprung up in the past few years and made a rapid, permanent growth, none are more prominent than the city of Great Falls, in Cascade county.
In the early part of the season of 1882, Paris Gibson, with a single companion, left Fort Benton (the head of the navigation on the Missouri river) and started out to thoroughly examine the country farther up the Missouri ; he traveled up past the various falls, and camped on the present site of the city of Great Falls. 11 is attention had been called to the croppings of coal that had been found a few miles away. After thoroughly examining these, and finding large bodies of fine coal and great ledges of the finest building stone, and seeing the immense water power that only waited to be controlled by the hand of man, lie was not slow to see the natural advantages that were offered for the building of a large city. With him, to think was to act ; he immediately returned to Fori Benton, and from there started for the East. While there, he met J. J. Hill, and described to him the excellent site he had found for the building of a large city. Mr. Hill became interested in »he description of the country and formed a paitnership with Mr. Gibson for the purpose of making further investigations in regard to the coal and mineral resources of the surrounding country ; and he was so well pleased with Mr. Gibson’s report, that in the spring of 1884 he went out to make a personal examination, and during the summer he put a large crew of men and a steam drill at work prospecting the coal fields. This prospecting continued during the next season, and the result was that a vein of the finest kind of soft coal, over thirty miles long and several miles wide and containing over 60,000 acres, was discovered. During the years of 1884 and 1885 most of the land in and near the now city of Great Falls was taken up, and in 1885 the Great Falls Water Power and Town Site Co. was incorporated, with J. J. Hill as president and Paris Gibson as vice-president and general manager, and they started to do business in a shack ; they bought up the present site of the city and platted it into city lots.
Mr. Hill, in the spring of i8S6, put a large corps of engineers in the field, and located a line of railroad from Minot, Dak., to Great Falls, a distance of nearly 600 miles ; work was started on this road in the spring of 1887, and before the last of October, the same year, trains were running into Great Falls ; this was the fastest piece of railroad building known to the world, being at the rate of nearly five miles of completed track per day, and that, too, through a country that was almost uninhabited. Upon the completion of the railroad, Great Falls started to grow ; buildings sprung upon all sides, a steel wagon bridge, costing $50,000, was built across the Missouri river; the Park hotel, costing $45,000, was built, and a hook and.ladder company was organized, laying the foundation of the Great Falls Fire Department.
During the summer of 1888, the Union Smelter was built at a cost of $1,000,000, the railroad was extended to the coal mines ten miles away, and a complete outfit of mining machinery put in the mines, and the mining of coal was started on a large scale. Several brick blocks and a large number of residences were built. During this season there were over 50,000 acres of land taken up by settlers near the city.
In February, 1889, the city was incorporated ; and the question of a domestic water supply and fire protection was agitated very strongly, the result of which was, a local company secured a franchise from the city to put in a water-works plant. The Great Falls Water Co. was incorporated in April, the same year, and on August 1, seven miles of mains had been laid, a pumping station and machinery, w ith a daily capacity of 3,000,000 gallons,had been erected and the works completed and started. The works were promptly tested by the city and accepted, as the test far exceeded that called for by the franchise. The test consisted in throwing eight simultaneous fire streams (two 1)4 inches, three i-inch and three iuch) through ico feet o*f 2^-inch fire hose for a period of two hours, with a pressure of seventy-five pounds per square inch at the pumps. The streams were all run during the two hours and a pressure of ninety-seven pounds maintained at the pumps. The city purchased 2000 feet of fire hose and two hose carts, and two volunteer hose companies were organized^with twenty-five members in each, and a brick hose house was built ; there was also an electric light plant put in during the season.
During the season of 1890, three miles of water mains were laid, a large dam costing $250,000 was built across the Missouri river at Black Eagle Falls, developing 30.000 horsepower ; a narrow-gauge railroad was built by the Great Falls and Canada Railway Co. from Great Falls to Lethbridge, Can., a distance of 200 miles; the Montana Central Railway Co. was built to the mining camps of Neihart and Barker, a distance of sixty miles ; a thirty-inch main sewer was laid up Third street from the river, costing $26,000. and about $20,000 worth of lateral sewers were built ; several three and four-story blocks, and a large number of smaller ones and residences were built; fair grounds were purchased, and the North Montana Fair Association was incorporated.
During the season of 1891 there were seven miles more water mains laid; about $10,oco worth of lateral sewers put in; nine miles of electrical street car line were built and put in operation; the Boston and Montana Consolidated Copper and Silver Smelting Company erected a copper smelting plant costing $2,000,000 and contracted for io.ooo horse-power to be taken from the dam ; the Street Car Company and Electric Light Company also contracted for 2000 horse-power and built a large power house at the dam. A steel suspension foot bridge was also built across the Missouri river at the dam, one fivestory block was erected and one seven-story block started and the first three stories were finished, and a number of smaller blocks and residences were built.
During the present season there has already been four miles of water mains laid, another steel wagon bridge built across the Missouri River, a four-foot brick sewer, running up Sixth street from the river, that will cost $30,000, is now under consi ruction, and a copper refinery is also under construction, that will cost $600,000.
The city of Great Falls now has a population of 10,000 people and is growing very rapidly. It is located on the Missouri river, just below the mouth of Sun river, and is a little north of the centre of the State, and 1074 miles west of St. Paul. The water-works system consists now of two compound duplex pumping engines, with a capacity of 1,500,000 gallons per day each; two seventy-five horse-power steel tubular boilers, 21 miles of cast-iron water mains, sizes 6 to 12 inches; 208 Ludlow, double nozzle, fire hydrants, andioS gate valves. The water supply is taken from the middle of the Missouri river through a 14-inch wrought-iron pipe. A large number of extensions are contemplated for the near future, among them is a stand-pipe. The average daily consumption is now 650,000 gallons. Undoubtedly a 5,ooo,ooo-gallon highduty pump will be put in next season; also another boiler.
The sewerage system consists of thirty-inch cement conduits on Third street, 4800 feet long; about 7000 feet of 8 and 9inch lateral sew’ers of vitrified pipe; these are located in the alleys; 1200 feet of 24-inch vitrified pipe storm sewer, and a four-foot circular brick sewer on Sixth street, 2800 feet long, now being built. There are now about three miles of streets graded, but so far there has been no paving done. The question of paving Central avenue is now before the city council. The street railways consist of nine miles of street car line, equipped with two eighty horse-power generators run by waterpower, ten motor cars and three trail cars. Cars run every twenty minutes over the entire line, and the service is firstclass. The electric light plant consists of five fifty light arc dynamos and three 1300 light and two 650 light incandescent dynamos, all built by the Thomson-Houston Company. The streets are lighted by thirty 2000 candle power arc lights. The street car and light plants are run entirely by water-power.
The water power of the Missouri river at this place consists of a series of five falls in a distance of eight miles. The total fall in the eight miles is 514 feet, and the average flow of water over the Black Eagle Falls dam, during the ordinary stage of water, is 5625 cubic feet per second, and during high water it reaches 20,000 cubic feet per second.
The fire department (in which the citizens take the greatest pride) consists of five volunteer hose companies of ten members each, each company having a small hose house and a hand truck with 600 feet of hose, located in different parts of the city; also one large hose wagon with team and five paid men, and a volunteer hook and ladder company of ten members, located at the central station. There are eight fire alarm boxes; the Gamewell system is the one used, and it is connected direct with a large tower bell, so as to ring when the alarm is turned in. The efficiency of the fire department can be judged by the fact that there has not been a building burned down within reach of the water mains since they were laid.
The fuel question with this city is one that is settled for all time. The vast coal fields south and east of this city will last for ages. The Sand Coulee Coal Company is taking out 1500 tons of coal a day from their Sand Coulee mine, ten miles from the city, and there are a large number of mines being worked that are taking out smaller quantities. The Great Falls coal is used all over the State of Montana, and a great deal in the Dakotas. It is an excellent steam coal, and some of the veins are a superior coking coal.
The question of building material is also settled for all time. There are large quarries of red, brown, gray, white and mottled sand stone within five miles of the city, fine limestone for burning lime within fifteen miles of the city, and good sand all along the river. There are seven brick yards within ten miles of the city, making a first-class article of building brick, and there is a fire brick plant now being built that will have a capacity of ^0,000 fire brick per day. They will also manufacture tile, sewer pipe and several other article that can be made of clay. There are large forests of pine and fir in the mountains south of the city. The logs arc cut and run down the river and are made into lumber in the city. There is one saw mill in the city that is cutting 140,000 feet of lumber daily. They are also running a sash, door and blind factory.
Paris Gibson, the founder of Great Kails, is its present Mayor. He was born in Maine and was graduated from Bow. doin College. Shortly after leaving college he went to Minneapolis. In 1879 he went to Montana. He has been identified with every progressive interest in the State. The superintendent of the water-works is E. W. King, a capable engineer, who was born in Neillsville, Wis., in 1861. He reached Great Falls in 1887 and put in the water supply for the smelting company. In the following year he laid out the water system for the city and put it in. He has had charge of the works since.
J. T. Fanning of Minneapolis, Minn., was the consulting engineer on the dam and M. S Parker of Great Falls was the engineer in charge. Charles O. Parsons of Boston was the consulting and also the engineer in charge of the building of the smelter and the electric light powei station. John A, Cole of Chicago, Ill., was the consulting engineer on the water-works plant. C. B. Worley of St. Paul, Minn., and now city engineer, was the engineer of the sewerage system.