Montana Historical Society

Big Sky ~ Big History

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Montana: Stories of the Land

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Chapter 12 - Logging in the "High Lonesome," 1862-1949

Learning From Historical Documents

"Pioneer Lumbering in Montana," by Anton Holter. Holter Family papers, 1861-1968. Manuscript Collection 80. [box 1 folder 8]. Montana Historical Society Research Center. Archives. Excerpted in Not In Precious Metals Alone: A Manuscript History of Montana (Helena, 1976): 122-23.

Context for Anton Holter's Reminiscence:

Not all Montana's pioneers came to make their fortune in mining. In 1863 Anton M. Holter and Alexander Evenson established a primitive, water-powered sawmill near Virginia City. Demands for lumber by Alder Gulch miners soon pressed the capacity of their business to its limits. A little "Yankee ingenuity," luck, and hard work were ingredients for success as Holter, later to become a leading Helena businessman, detailed in this reminiscence.

About Primary Sources:

Letters, diary entries, census records, newspapers, and photographs are all examples of "primary sources," material created at a particular moment in the past that has survived into the present. Primary sources can provide clues to the past. They are our windows into an earlier time. The Montana Historical Society contains thousands of primary sources. In the 1970s, archivists collected just a few snippets into a book, which they called Not in Precious Metals Alone: A Manuscript History of Montana. That book is now on the web in its entirety. The above sample from that book relates directly to this chapter.

Elk in front of a fire
Elk in Bitterroot River, photo by John McColgan
Steamboat Helena
Steamboat Helena, photo by W. E. Hook, Montana Historical Society Photo Archives