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The 1900 - 1909

By the turn of the century Great Falls had just about accomplished the major "firsts" and was well on its way into the 1900s. One of the newest things to hit the scene was the automobile. To be sure, there were still plenty of horses, horse drawn buggies and even the fire-fighting equipment and ambulances were being drawn by real horse-power! Nevertheless, the automobile was a major up-and-comer in this decade.

"Wild West" pursues state into the 20th Century
by Paula Wilmot
Writer for the
Great Falls Tribune

"World's Tallest Stack in Great Falls"
by Paula Wilmot

fording the river - horse-powered ferry
Despite the introduction of the automobile, the horse was a long way from extinction in Great Falls!
Click on the photo to enlarge it.

Photo: Great Falls Tribune

On Central Avenue, right smack dab down the middle, an electrically powered trolley-car made its rounds. Unlike today, a guy never had to circle the block a few times looking for a piece of curb at which he could tie up his automobile!

Central Avenue, looking east
This is a view of Central Avenue, looking east, from a circle where now stands the Civic Center.
Photo: G. F. Public Library, Junior League Collection

State of the art hydroelectric power is being generated at the Black Eagle Dam. Four more dams would soon be constructed on the Missouri River near Great Falls.
Telephones and electric lights were finding their way all over Great Falls.

Brewers were earning $3.50 a day; smeltermen were taking home between $3.00 to $4.50 a day and a cook got $1.25 and all (s)he could eat.

"Great Falls was still a new city in 1900, but it had passed its era of antiquarian firsts for the most part. The 19th century must indeed have seemed long in the past. Modern times were on the way."
(William Furdell, Great Falls historian)

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1900 Census:
State Population: 243,329
Great Falls' Pop: 14,930

Robert B. Smith (1897-1901)
Joseph K. Toole (1901-1908)
Edwin L. Norris (1908-1913)

U.S. Senators:
Thomas H. Carter
William A. Clark

U.S. Representative:
Andrew J. Campbell

1900 - First high school football team; Central High.
1900s - C.M.Harris opened plumbing shop at 411 Central Avenue.
1900s - The B and M Smelter Machinists was a baseball team in Black Eagle.
1901-to-1905 - Paris Gibson is U.S. Senator from Montana.
1902 - Construction of the Cascade County courthouse was completed.
1902 - "The Carnegie," Great Falls' 2nd public library opened.
1903 - The Great Copper Wars brought about a shutdown of mines and smelters across Montana.
Great Falls took a heavy hit but recovered when the shutdown was reversed.
1903 - The new copper-domed Cascade County Courthouse was dedicated.
1903 - First Presbyterian Church moved to a new location, 1315 Central Ave.
1903 - "Cascade Park" was renamed Gibson Park
1903 - The new Valeria Library (public library named after Gibson's wife) opened.
1906 - Rev. Mathias Lenihan, Great Falls' first bishop, built Saint Ann's Cathedral
1906 - Chicago, Milwaukee, St.Paul and Pacific Railroad entered Montana.
1906 - Great Falls men won the Montana football championship.
1907 - St. Ann's Cathedral was dedicated.
1907 - Marguerite and Charlie Burrell founded the Electric City Conservatory. It consisted of a greenhouse and a one-story store.
1908 - Great Northern Railway line built from Great Falls to Billings.
1908 - Construction began on B and M's big stack by a contractor from New York, Custodis Construction Company.

  • First brick was tapped into place April 7th.
    1908 - Great Falls damaged by flood when the Sun River and the Mighty Mo overflowed their banks. A plaque marking the flood's crest was placed on the underpass at the north end of Gibson Park.
    1909 - The B and M stack was completed; 506 feet high.
  • First smoke June 12, 1909
    1909 - The Great Falls Gas Company (now Energy West) began business.

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  • Credits:
    Great Falls - A Pictorial History
    by William J. Furdell
    and Elizabeth Lane Furdell

    Great Falls Tribune
    Staff Writer - Paula Wilmot

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